I don’t know if you’ve ever been at the side of someone who has drawn their last breath. I’ve had that privilege twice: once was at my mom’s bedside when she passed away in 1986. The other was in 2001 when I was at the bedside of Ruby Truslow, one of the matriarchs of Community Fellowship Church of the Nazarene. Each time, it truly was a privilege. I really can’t describe the sweetness of the final moments of those lives. In each case, though, there was a tremendous sense of peace, and I’ll say it again… a sweetness.
Last night, I was reminded of that sweetness as I had the privilege to fellowship with a few members of our men’s group at CFC. We hadn’t been together since I had left the church in August. The occasion, however, was bittersweet. We were visiting a man who’s been part of that group for the past two years, and togther, we’ve journeyed through his battle with stomach cancer. He’s experiemced quite a few ups and downs, and just received word that the cancer has spread to his bones. He has been an inspiration to us all with his steadfast faith and the delight he takes in being with his family and friends.You might know Bruce Catlett. If you met him, it wouldn’t take you long to get to know him. With his wry sense of humor and quick wit, he’s easy to get to know and love. His faith is indeed steadfast and although his time left is short, his sense of humor, even in the face of death, is as sharp as ever.
My ears perked up last night when Bruce said, “It seems like life is sweeter – now that I’m closer to the end.” I asked him what he meant by that and he said that being surrounded by such great friends and having his family so close made the past few weeks so rich and so sweet. He said that he heard a pastor recently say, “So many of us are so busy living our lives that we don’t realize that we have a life to live.” In his last days, Bruce Catlett has never taken any of them for granted.
It was one of the sweetest, most blessed evenings in a long time. We laughed together, we shared our recent trials, but best of all, we prayed together for one another. After we took a group photo together he said, “I’m gonna take this photo to heaven and tell them that if any of the guys in the picture show up, call me for a reference.”