Several years ago I read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. I just wept through the book as the friendship between a young man and an old man grew more intimate. As Morrie’s ALS worsened and death drew near Mitch drew out lessons of life than changed the fabric of his identity and purpose in life.
Well, I had no idea all those years ago that I would have front row seats to our own version of this story… Mondays with Frank.
The story goes like this… Our family moved to Chillicothe, Ohio to be part of a church plant, a start-up church. One of our first community ministries was in a local nursing home. One of the aides directed my husband to a man that she saw something special in. Frank was alone, blind, and suffering the consequences of multiple suicide attempts.
As they sat discussing the word of God, Daniel shared the gospel of Jesus with this broken man. If you die with Christ you can live (Romans 6). “Do you want to die with Christ today, Frank?” With tears streaming down his weathered face he said, “If you can make it happen I’d love to.” That moment they found water and immersed Frank into Christ.
As time went on Frank grew in the Lord. He gave up his old ways. And his mantra became “I’d never go back.” Eventually Frank was able to move out of the nursing home and into an independent living facility. Months later he was told his cancer was back. This time in his lungs. Daniel sat with Frank through doctors appointments discussing treatment options. Frank said, “No more. I am done. Let the cancer take its course.” Daniel and Frank then decided together that if he was going out he was going out right.
Frank took every opportunity to meet with the church, go to concerts, and especially go out to eat. Daniel and Frank had a lunch date cemented in for Monday afternoons. They talked about it all. Sometimes I would call during their time and hear them laughing at some obnoxious joke or a story of Frank’s mischief. They discussed life. They discussed death.
One year later, Frank suddenly declined and is now waiting. He is in pain. His body is tired. Yet his spirit longs to meet the man who saved him. He longs to meet Jesus.
Last night our church gathered around his hospital bed. We sang. We prayed. We cried, not for him, but for ourselves. We rejoice, not because of his pain, but because his death will lead to life. Frank will have eyes that see, not just the world around him, but the glory of the Almighty.
And last night, as I watched my husband comfort him and wipe bloody mucus from his mouth, I couldn’t help thinking, “How beautiful.” How beautiful to see my husband serve this man as a son would serve his father. How beautiful to see the humble compassion that my husband has for his friend. How beautiful to hear him call out Daniel’s name knowing that he’s there for him. How beautiful that they talk about Frank’s homecoming with anticipation. Frank said, “I am not afraid.”
I have cried uncontrollable tears for the past two weeks. I am simply overwhelmed standing at the foot of eternity and watching Frank cross over knowing that he is not afraid. Thank you. Thank you Jesus.
Tomorrow… I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from Frank in the past 6 years.
Follow-up: Life Lessons From Frank