Earlier today, Cindy posted a moving story recounting a very emotional time for us all. It was a small glimpse into what she experienced and felt during Cassie’s final days this side of Heaven, and reflections from throughout the five years since. Like pedestrians on opposite corners of an intersection viewing a traffic accident from different vantage points, my account of those days is a little different because Cindy is Cassie’s Mom, and I am her Dad. She’s a woman, and I am a man. We view things a little differently, and we feel a little differently about things that matter. I hope that those differences add to the memory Cindy shared rather than distract from it.
My memory of the days leading up to Cassie’s promotion to Heaven is somewhat blurry. Nonetheless, I am going to try to give you some highlights and – in the process – share what matters. Here are some similarities between 2015 and now: Something I realized just this morning is that August 31st, 2015 was a Monday – as is today. I had taken that day off work so that I could be with Cassie. I am off work today so that I can be with Cindy. And here’s one more similarity: The emotional pain of losing a daughter is still exactly the same. Now here are some differences: Then, Cassie was in severe pain from cancer, now she is pain-free. Then, her mind was confused, her thoughts in disarray, now she is thinking with more clarity than we can ever hope for here on Earth. Then, she could only imagine what it would be like to see The Lord, now she can see Him face-to-face.
In the days leading up to Cassie going to be with Jesus, her Sister, Cari arrived from Columbus to be with us all. We were together in Cassie’s room that day and had a chance to sing praise and worship songs, read scripture, and just talk about memories. They say that even though someone is in a comatose state, they can still hear – or sense – what’s going on in their room. I have faith that, when our pastor’s wife, Becky, said to Cassie, “Tell Jesus to come back soon to take us home” she heard her. As the evening wore on I sent Cari and Cindy home in hopes that they could get some sleep, but Cindy sensed that it would be the last time she saw Cassie this side of eternity. I wanted to stay in the room with Cassie and – although it took a little while to fall asleep on the padded bench that was provided – I did drift off. I heard the nurse come in and check Cassie’s vitals sometime between 11:00 and 11:30 PM. Then, about 11:45 PM I sprung up – wide awake – and I KNEW “something” in the room had changed. I had the immediate realization that what had changed was that Cassie had “shuffled off this mortal coil” and was now in the presence of her Lord and Savior. I called Cindy and told her to come back to Hospice, and I told the attendant at the desk just outside Cassie’s room that she is gone. The contrasting feelings of intense sadness and rapturous joy flooded me then, as they are doing today. I am so sad that Cassie is gone from our presence, but I am filled with joy that she is with her Lord and all the saints who have gone before, in Heaven. As time has passed, the longing to be where she is has grown and intensified. “How can this world offer us anything, when Heaven awaits?” is a recurring theme in my thoughts these days.
Cassie’s life here on Earth – as Cindy so eloquently said – was fraught with suffering and troubles of all kinds. That much is sure. But those who knew her always anticipated seeing her smiling face, her genuine and heartfelt hugs, and childlike faith that – when she shared it – always made you think. Our last year together with Cassie, as we cared for her during her struggle with cancer, was life-changing. It left an imprint on my heart and mind that I will never get over – nor would I ever want to. I still miss her – in many ways more today than five years ago – because I process it differently now. Then I was just sad because she was gone from our presence, now I am happy because I am one year closer to seeing her again in Heaven with our Lord and Savior.