Thursday, January 15, 2015

GOOD-BYE, JIMMY...and A New Prayer Request

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away."
Revelation 21:4

I sit here in disbelief, eyes filled with tears.
This is a post I never wanted to write.
These are words I never wanted to say.
Not that we didn't know it was coming.
We've been expecting it for days...weeks...even months.
Still, when it comes, it is so hard to say good-bye.
And, to the bitter end, I kept hoping...with all my might....for a miracle.
I know God could have done it.
We wanted Him to.
His thoughts are much higher than ours, and He had other plans.

After a long, hard, courageously-fought battle with cancer, 
Jimmy Neff quietly passed away this morning,
surrounded by the ones he loved most.

I suppose only those who have walked the path he trod could ever comprehend
the intense suffering he endured.
As I prayed earlier, I almost mentioned his name.
It is such a natural thing for me to do.
He has held a spot in my daily prayers for such a long time.
It will be so hard to stop doing that.

I feel so helpless.
So inadequate.
So unequal to the task of being able to help my brother and sister-in-law.
Their hearts are so broken.
Their anguish so intense.
Their grief beyond human utterance.

Words feel so empty and sound so hollow.

After all, what can one say at a time like this?

Dorothy never planned to bury her son.
David never planned for his step-son to precede him in death.
This is not the natural order, so it seems even harder for them to cope.

Jimmy goes way back to some of my earliest childhood memories.  
Remember the post Christmas From The Dumpster?
Jimmy was the little boy in that post who was about a year older than me.
I spent a lot of time with him and his brother, David,
since our parents were such close friends.

Several years after our "Christmas From The Dumpster" adventure,
and after several life changes and the divorce of Jimmy's parents,
my brother, David, married Jimmy's and David's mother, Dorothy.
So, at that point, my two childhood friends, Jimmy and David, also became my family.

We've shared a lot of happy times and made some precious memories,
the latest being in September and November of last year,
a few months after Jimmy was diagnosed with brain, lung, and adrenal cancer.
The moments we shared seemed ever more precious then,
knowing that, short of a Divine-intervention miracle, Jimmy's days were coming to an end.

During our September visit, he was still able to enjoy eating, and we shared a pizza from
my absolute all-time-favorite pizza place, Cassano's.
We reminisced and laughed....a lot.
We reminded each other of funny things that happened back in our younger days,
and we talked about all the years we spent going to Sunday School 
and young people's meetings together.
We also cried...many tears.
We knelt together, before we left, and poured out our hearts,
side-by-side, next to the living room couch.
We begged God to send a miracle....
to take away his pain....
to remove the cancer.
When we all stood to leave, his spot on the couch was soaked with tears,
he turned to me, hugged me tight, 
and through his tears, he said, "I love you SO much!"

I thought my heart would break.

A few weeks after we returned home, Kevin, Zachary, and I were out driving one day,
when, out of the blue, Kevin turned to look at me.
"You know, I wish we could go see Jimmy...just one, more time."

"I can't believe you said that," I replied.
The same, exact thought had just crossed my mind.

We decided then and there that we would figure out a way to get back to OH
to see him again before it was too late.
I called my sister-in-law, told her we were coming, and on the phone, 
we made plans to get Cassano's again.
Jimmy put in his order asking for a sub this time, instead of pizza.
I wrote it down, so I could make sure we ordered him exactly what he wanted.
I kept that piece of paper until just the other day.
I guess I just kept hoping we would be granted the gift of buying him that sub.

"Tell her I'm paying for it," I heard him say in the background.

"No, Dorothy, tell him, this will be our treat," I replied.

"You tell her I can still wrestle her like we did when we were little," 
I heard him tease from across the room.

We laughed, and Dorothy and I hung up the phone.

Little did we know that the Cassano's we enjoyed together in September would end up being our last.

A few days before we got back to Ohio, Jimmy took a turn for the worse,
could no longer enjoy eating,
and had to be hospitalized.
Our visit with him there was precious, but not nearly as happy as the one a couple of months before.
He was so weak...sitting there in the chair beside his hospital bed.
I couldn't believe how much he had gone down hill in such a short time.
We still laughed, but not so much. as we realized it would more than likely be our last visit together on this side of eternity.
After the room was emptied of all other visitors except Kevin, Zach, and me,
we gathered around his chair, and the four of us bowed our heads in prayer.
After all those years of praying together in church, Sunday School, and youth meeting,
this would be the last prayer I would ever pray with Jimmy.

When we finished, I found it hard to tear myself from his room, 
but he was tired, and I knew he was only sitting up to be polite.
We walked away, and I knew.
There are just some things you know with a deep-down heart knowledge.
Living over 600 miles apart, we would never have the chance to see him again.
Out in the hall of that hospital, I even considered going back...
just to spend a few more moments with him,
I was just that certain it was final.

Jimmy was one of the kindest, most giving, unselfish people you could ever hope to meet.
He was tender-hearted, abundantly generous, and caring.
He made a good living, but it seems he gave nearly all of it away.
If he knew you needed something, he wouldn't think twice about giving you what he had.
He was just that way.

People like Jimmy are few, far between, and hard to find.

Today, has been a sad, sad day.
Tonight, it still hasn't sunk completely in to my senses that he is gone.
He left this world a better place, just by being a part of it for the past 49 years.
God bless and reward him for all the kindness, love, and compassion he has shown.

And now I beg of you, dear friends, please do remember our family in your prayers.
I will no longer ask for prayers for Jimmy.
His need for prayer is over and past, as the angels have come and carried him away.

In Heaven, there is no cancer.
No pain.
No brokenness.
No heartache.
No good-byes.
No sadness or tears.
What a wonderful place that must be!

So, for now, good-bye, Jimmy, my dear, childhood, lifelong friend.
God be with you, until we meet again.

As I close the chapter on asking for prayers for Jimmy,
I open a new one requesting you pray for a little 8 week old baby boy named, Caleb.
He is in the hospital suffering from RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus),
and now has developed pneumonia.

His mother has health issues of her own, while trying to deal with little Caleb's illness alone, 
as his daddy is deployed overseas fighting for our country.
Please pray hard for this little guy and both of his parents and family.
God bless them, comfort them, send healing, and see them through this trying time.

*****UPDATE 1/18/2015*****
Little Caleb is off the ventilator, praise God, and is now on full oxygen.
His mother, Kim, is in much need of prayer, as she is facing what could be a very serious health issue of her own.
Please continue to pray for Caleb's healing, Kim's healing and positive prognosis,
and Caleb's daddy for peace of mind and protection while serving our country.
A big thank you to each one who is praying for this dear family!


  1. I'm so sad for your family right now. The only comfort we can get at a time like this, is knowing that not only will he never suffer again, but he doesn't have to deal with any of the daily things we do now. He'll never have to endure the scary changes of the world or feeling sad or confused...he's okay now. He's safer than all of us. And not in pain. :) And that is awesome.

    Every time I see a baby like this, it makes me so, so sad. I'll be adding him to my prayers.

    And I agree--I got used to praying for Jimmy, too. It'll be weird to omit that now. But he's okay. :) And your family will be, too.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and compassion!! They truly touched my heart. And thank you for praying for little Caleb. I am believing God to bring him through and help his dear family through this crisis. So thankful that our Jesus has BIG shoulders and can carry us AND our burdens, no matter how heavy they become. I know you faithfully carried a burden for Jimmy, and you will never know how much I appreciate it. Much love and gratitude to you.

  2. Oh, Cheryl,

    I am so sorry about Jimmy. It's easy to see how close you were. What a blessing to have such a great friend! They are rare.

    The words to this song came to mind.

    I will be praying for you all, and that God will give you strength and comfort. It will be so wonderful when we get to Heaven and we won't ever have to be apart anymore.

    Will also pray for little Caleb and his family.

    God bless you, sweet friend. (((much love and warm hugs)))♥

    1. Oh, my word, I am bawling. This song is SO beautiful!!! Praise His name! No more night!!! Can you imagine what it will mean to get there? THANK YOU for sharing this wonderful song with me. I do believe I had heard it years ago, but I don't remember for sure...I sure needed to hear it today. Thank you for your sweet words, your precious emails, and your dear friendship. I thank God for you! Love you, Melanie.

  3. Aw sweet Jimmy! I am so sorry to hear this Cheryl! You have just been surrounded by so much tragedy lately :(

    1. Dear, sweet Caroline! So have you! We will make it through these trials, and one day you will be with your precious Kai, and I will be with so many who have gone on before. But, most of all, we will see JESUS, and God Himself will wipe away all tears from our eyes! Knowing they are there just makes Heaven all the more precious!! Love and appreciate you!

  4. I could hardly read this for the tears in my eyes. I am so sorry to hear about Jimmy. I will be praying for you and all the family. I will also pray for Caleb and his family. Homecoming Day!!! O how sweet it's going to be! I can cry just thinking about it. I'll get to see my sweet little grandma again. She was the best grandma ever! I will get to see my grandpa who bounced me on his knee and called me a "Jizzy Wizzy" whatever that is. I can't wait to see my other grandpa. He was a character! I can hear Michael Combs' song, Suppertime. Have you ever heard that? Youtube has his video. Actually, I just opened a new window and I'm listening to it now. What a day that will be when we all get home!!
    I love you, and I'm praying for you.

    1. YES, dear friend, I do remember that song. In fact, I just clicked over and found it on youtube and listened to it again. It made me think of Mom and how much I miss her! There are so many waiting over there who will welcome us home! I cry just thinking about it, too. Jizzy Wizzy, huh? That is adorable! Yes, what a day it will be when we all get home!! What a HUGE family reunion!!! We don't want to miss it! God bless you for the sweet, precious friend you are to me. I love you so much. God bless you!!!!

  5. Cheryl, I am saddened by this news, as I grieve for all of you as you grieve for Jimmy. But, I join in the celebration that he is now free from his pain, and in the presence of the Lord. May you all be granted an extra dose of comfort and peace at this time. It sounds so cliche, but you know I mean it.

    Dear Caleb, adding him to my prayers. Such a precious boy. God, please heal these tiny lungs and strengthen this dear one's body. Be with his mommy. Healing, Lord, please bring healing.

    I'm at a loss for words right now, Cheryl. You know my heart.

    May God shine His favor upon us all. GOD BLESS.

    1. Dear Sharon! Thank you so much for ALL of your love, support, faithful prayers, and friendship. I just emailed you while ago. I am praying for you and love you dearly. Yes, I know your true and full of love. God bless you a million times over for everything you do and the consistent encouragement you are to me and to so many others.

  6. I'm sorry for your loss... I'm praying for you and your family... May our Father hold you and yours warmly in His sovereign hands...

    1. Thank you ever so much for your kind words and encouragement. I know you were faithful to pray for Jimmy, and I can't tell you how much we appreciate your prayers. God bless you abundantly.

  7. Always sad to say goodbye especially to someone we loves. But he is in a better place.
    Let us put everything in God's hands. Gonna pray for Caleb amd the family.

    1. Yes, you are so right, Joy. Good-byes are never easy. Thank you for your sweet words and for stopping by...and for your prayers for little Caleb. I appreciate you!

  8. Dear Cheryl, I know how hard tough times like this are. May Jesus wrap His comforting arms around you and all the families mentioned in this post. Hugs, Debby

    1. Thank you so much, Debby. It was so nice to see that you had stopped by...I have missed you and thought of you often. I trust you are feeling better. Much love and many blessings to you!

  9. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss, Cheryl. I pray God overwhelms you with His comfort and peace.

    1. I am so thankful for your words, Lisa! May God bless you for being so kind. :) Praying often for you, too!

  10. My heart goes out to you all on the loss of Jimmy, but my heart is glad that he is now with his Saviour where there is no suffering, what a wonderful place to be. May God bless you all with His perfect peace as you adjust to life without Jimmy. I am so glad that you got to see him again and that you could pray with him. Thank you for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

    1. Thank you so much, Terri. I was such a dear blessing that God allowed us the time to have those two prayers together. I look back on it now and I can see God's hand even more clearly in all of it. God is SO good to allow things to fall into place the way they are supposed to. He is always in control. So thankful for you and your dear words!

  11. Hi Cherryl,
    Thanks so much for your kinds comment and for visiting me.
    I'm so very sorry for the loss of your friend and hope you find comfort in knowing he is peaceful and will always be with you in your heart.
    I'm so glad to hear baby Caleb is doing better.
    So glad to have you join me. :)

    1. Thank you so much! So thankful to have you visit me here and join me on my journey, also! God bless you. :)

  12. Hi Cheryl,
    Am so very sorry to hear about your sweet friend Jimmy, he sounds like a jewel.........and great will be his reward in Heaven.
    May the God of all comfort be with you and your family and Jimmy's family and friends as well. So hard to say goodbye to
    such a wonderful person. Cause we need more people like that down here, but the Lord's ways are not our ways and I am
    always comforted by Isaiah 57:1, that says the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.........
    It is just as you say and like scripture says there is no more pain, no more tears and Heaven is a wonderful place filled
    with glory and grace and we will see our Saviors face, cause Heaven is a wonderful place, as the song goes.
    Will be praying for all of you as well as baby Caleb, such a sad story for this family. God Bless them everyone.

    Blessings to you sweetie,

    1. Oh, Nellie! I am so sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for your visit and kind words. I LOVE the verse you shared about the righteous being taken away to be spared from evil. I had forgotten about that verse, and it is such a comfort to me now that you reminded me! I so appreciate your kindness and prayers. God bless you in a special way!!

  13. We try to keep our loved ones here a bit longer, even when we can see them in the process of leaving us. It is not Good bye, but fare well only for a short time, for we shall be with them again in that place where there is no death or suffering. Thank you for sharing your heart with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Yes, how true! One day there will be a wonderful reunion with those who have gone before us to be with Jesus! What a day that will be! Thank you so much for your kind words and comfort, Hazel. God bless you!

  14. So sorry for your loss. This man life, even though short had value and it's evident from the words of your post. Will be praying for this little one.

    1. Thank you so much, Betty. I am so grateful you stopped by and left such sweet encouragement behind. Thank you so much for your prayers. God bless you!

  15. May comfort you all and happy for Caleb.

  16. I am sorry for your loss, for the deep grieving you are experiencing and will feel in the days ahead. May God be your comfort, may your hope in Him remind you of the joy found in His presence and may the memories fill your heart with more happiness than sadness in the remembering.

    1. Thank you so much, Dawn. Your words are so comforting and encouraging! God bless you in a special way for stopping by and leaving kindness behind. :)

  17. So sorry for your loss! May God be near you during your time of grief!

    1. Thank you so much, Jo! You are such a blessing to me. God bless you, in return. :)

  18. Heaven will be a wonderful place where we will forever be with Jesus and our loved ones gone before.....may God give comfort and peace to you and your family. (Praying for the precious baby and his family as well.)

    1. Yes, what a day it will be when we see Jesus face-to-face..finally, and we are reunited with all of our loved ones who have gone before us to that wonderful place! Thank you for your kind words and prayers! God bless you. :)

  19. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Jimmy sounds like he was an amazing man.

    I will keep you and your family in my prayers and I will add Caleb to my prayers as well.

    Thank you for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.


    1. Oh, thank you so much, Jennifer! We so appreciate your prayers and love and concern. So happy to have found you and your link-up! God bless you!

  20. Prayers for your family and for your heart. Grief is hard. Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Talk - feel free to link back to a host and share our button if you would like,

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I emailed you privately to let you know that the button is on my link-up page. God bless you!

  21. Cheryl...My heart felt sympathies for your loss. I know you have been praying for him through all he endured. Now he suffers no more! And yes, one day you will meet again. The promise of heaven is a huge comfort for the soul that knows Jesus. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to pray for him. Thank you for sharing Jimmy at Monday's Musings. God be with you.

    1. I could never thank you enough for praying for Jimmy and carrying this burden. Even though God answered our prayers in a way we wouldn't have chosen, I know He always does what is best. Thank you so much, Naomi. God bless you!!

  22. Just read your article and wanted to share this.

    May your heart be lightened and may God give you what you need when you are around Jimmy's parents. (Hope the article I linked helps you in some small way).


    1. Thank you ever so much, Susan! I am so sorry that I am just now responding to this...somehow your comment was posted and never responded to. God bless you for reaching out to us!