Monday, I opened an e-mail and learned that a former coworker and friend, Robert, had lost his battle with cancer, and had passed away at home with his wife and daughter on Thanksgiving Day. He was 52 years old. DH and I immediately cleared our schedules to drive up to east Texas to attend the funeral on Tuesday.
Like many funerals, it was a time sadness. But for me, it was a beautiful example of old things passing away once a man knows and follows Christ as his Savior; he becomes a new creation and a different person.
Robert and I began working together in the summer of 1979 in a prosthetics lab in Dallas, Texas. I was just going into college and he was just getting out of college. We were both interested in a career in prosthetics (fabricating and fitting custom-made artificial limbs for people). We worked together for around eight or nine years and both became Certified Prosthetists before going our separate ways. Robert bought a lab in east Texas and struck out on his own, and I got married and moved to Tennessee with my DH. We've seen each other in person only a few times since then, but we kept in touch.
The Robert I worked with was the "old Robert." He was a little wild, did some foolish things, lived in the moment, but was basically good-hearted. I thought of him as the older brother I didn't have. He had three brothers and no sisters. We were friends and occasionally fought like a brother and sister. He had a girlfriend, Mary. She was very level-headed and was a woman of faith. And at that time, though Robert understood the concept, he had never believed in Christ as his Savior.
Well, Mary and Robert got married, and Mary came to work at the lab in the office. I got to know her and really liked her. Whoever came up with the saying, "Behind every good man is an even better woman," must have been talking about Mary.
Robert grew up; he matured (as we all hopefully do). He and Mary had a daughter, Melanie, whom he often called "Babycakes." And then one day, Robert believed in Christ as his Savior. He became my brother in Christ. He was a new creation; he changed. He began attending church and seeking after God. He became active in a men's Bible study. He met with other men to pray early on Saturday morning. He became active in his church community and sought ways to help folks in need. And when he was diagnosed with cancer, his church family rallied around him and his family.
The funeral was a celebration of Robert's home-going to heaven to be with his Lord. I rejoiced as I listened to friends and church members give testimony of the changes in Robert's life. I could almost hear the Lord saying to him, "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"
After the funeral, DH and I were talking over the passage of time and old friends. We figured that the last time I had seen Robert was in the early '90's at an Academy Meeting in New Orleans. (Academy Meetings are national yearly educational and scientific lectures for prosthetists and orthotists.) DH last saw him in March of this year, again at an Academy Meeting, where Robert told him of his battle with cancer. DH said that he and Robert really seemed to connect with one another during that visit. I said, "You were brothers in the Lord and knew it."
Anyway, I will be keeping Mary and Melanie in my prayers. And I will be praising the Lord who keeps His promises to those who believe in Him, and thanking Him for the life of my brother Robert, a new creature.