For once, I found myself with things to write but no opportunity, instead of the other way around. I've been away from home a bit, and then fairly busy with work - once I've got into some programming it's sometimes difficult to stop, and I end up working all evening. But, having sent another beta release of a project off to a customer, what's left of this evening is mine.
On Friday I went to the funeral of Lois Pearse, who died nearly two weeks ago now, aged 2 years. I guess I have only been to a handful to funerals, but this one was quite remarkable, though part of me doesn't feel able to remark on it.
The first thing I wasn't really ready for was just how emotional and upsetting it would be. They had the graveside part of the funeral first, and well before the Pearse family or Lois's little coffin had even arrived, many were visibly quite distressed, and all very solemn. I personally never knew Lois, as I haven't seen much of the family over the past few years. I also have no children of my own, and I'm generally a fairly phlegmatic bloke. What it must have felt like for those in any way closer to the situation, let alone Jon and Rachel themselves, I can't begin to imagine.
The second astonishing thing was the way in which God was upholding the family. After the burial, there was a service in Moordown Baptist Church, where Jon is assistant pastor. To the amazement of us all, Jon stood up and spoke at length. First he gave a tribute to Lois, in the second person, full of things he loved about her, her likes and phrases and habits, the way "a ginger biscuit could make everything better", "the way you pray - theologically flawless and so profound: Dear God, Amen". I felt like I had got to know her just through that, and realised even more how much she must have been loved. Jon spoke so eloquently and powerfully, only once having to pause to collect himself.
He then went on to talk about the past few weeks, during which Lois had suddenly become ill and died. I think it was Wednesday the 8th when Jon and Rachel found her unable to lift her left arm and rushed her to hospital. They were given "the worst possible news". She had a huge brain tumour which was too big to operate on. The following Monday she was in surgery, to try to cut off the blood supply to the tumour. They drained some fluid from Lois's brain, and then had to again give Jon and Rachel "the worst possible news" - there was blood in the brain fluid, indicating a "catastrophic" event in the brain. Jon described how he and Rachel fell to pieces, shaking and trembling all over from this terrible news. But as they began to pray, the truth of Philippians 4:6,7 was proved, as God suddenly gave them a supernatural overwhelming peace - they were able to go out on the ward and be witnesses of the strength he gives. Lois died early on Wednesday morning.
The family were clearly being upheld by God in an amazing way. They also recounted how they had been contacted by people from literally all across the world who were praying for them. But I guess it is even more important to continue to remember them in our prayers.