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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bastille Day

Wake up, my soul, and trust in him...

Today is one of those sad anniversary days which begin to pepper our individual diaries as we walk through life. Twenty-nine years ago today, my dear sister Judy, aged only 37, slipped out of this world and into the next.

Slipped makes it sound a much easier transition than it was. It was a two-year battle with cancer which she fought valiantly. Towards the end, though, her pain-wracked body became a prison and when the end came, it was release from such confining agony into the broad vista of eternity, where I will one day see her again. 

So fitting that she should be released from a prison of pain on the same day that the French remember the fall of the infamous Bastille prison, where many who were suffering injustices escaped into the freedom of 18th century France, such as it was. Judy was a Francophile. She had lived three years in France, in Bordeaux, Metz and finally in Rouen where she met her husband Benoit. She taught French at university level and led tour groups from France round southern California, planning an exchange from her bed just weeks before she died. 

One of my favourite pictures is a small black and white snapshot of Judy, aged 2, with her arm around 3-month-old me as I lean into her. It sums up our relationship. We were more than sisters; we were best friends and she was always the big sister on whom I relied, the one who would tackle the bully for me or share her lunchtime milk with me when I arrived too early for afternoon kindergarten (those were days when 5 year olds could walk unaccompanied half a mile to school). She was always happy to take the lead and I was content to follow in her wake.

Yes, twenty-nine years and I miss her as much now as I did then. Maybe more. That easy laugh and non-stop chatter; her lightly freckled skin; the depth of our sharing of secrets. Never have I missed her more than in these last weeks, making life-changing decisions for our mother, all on my own. 

Sometimes life strips us of the supports on which we rely, and in those times the only real answer is to turn fully, honestly and openly to God and throw ourselves on him who died for us and who lives to inspire and carry us. 

Wake up, my soul, and trust in him ... In Him there is freedom.

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