“…and He will be called: Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

The phone on the wall rang on Wednesday, February 8, 1978; I was at home with our 3-year-old, Coy, and our 15-month-old, Cara. I answered to hear my father who was recovering from walking pneumonia. He told me my sister, Trish, while playing tennis with the base commander on North Island had collapsed on the court. She was unconscious and taken by ambulance to Balboa Naval Hospital. Her husband of 6 weeks was a naval commander on a short deployment. My mother was at a conference in Los Angeles accompanied by my brother. Dad asked if I could please go to the hospital as no one else could. A friend with children the same ages took my children as I left to go to the hospital.

Driving down, my thoughts were all over the place as I talked to the LORD. I was Trish’s matron of honor just a few weeks prior. She was beginning a new chapter in her journey. God, what are you doing? I walked into her room to see her connected to multiple machines and surrounded by people.I was stunned at how still she was in the midst of the noise of the machines and a feeling of dread came over me. Personnel turned to me and after finding out she was my sister, they took me to a small room to ask me questions about her. “No, she didn’t smoke or drink. She is in good shape, she is a tennis instructor, and runs five miles a day.” I also told them she had Athletic Heart Syndrome which is a family trait and this could be the cause of her apparent heart attack. I was in ‘doing’ mode, holding emotions at bay. That would soon change.

On Thursday evening, Trish remained unconscious and I held her hand. A pacemaker was inserted and she continued to be monitored. I was praying and talking to her when all of the machines started making noises and the nurses told me to leave. I stood in the small courtyard outside when a young doctor came to tell me as kindly as possible that things did not look good. Those words were like a knife to my heart.

I absolutely lost it and all the stuffed-down emotions erupted in fear, anger, questioning, tears, and despair. “God, you can’t do this to my family? What are you doing? This is too hard, where are you? I can’t lose my sister.” There was definitely no peace, not a shred of it. Then I heard in my head, ‘In everything give thanks.’ “God, you can’t be asking me that. No, I can’t do that. Not this.” A few moments of silence followed and again, ‘In everything give thanks.’ And so, reluctantly, but in obedience, I said, “Okay, thanks!”

Then peace came, overwhelming me like a warm flood, the Prince of Peace gave me peace that passes understanding. I wish I could describe the feeling. This peace did not mean Trish would be healed, it meant that He was present and I could trust Him. The peace was there on Friday when the doctors said she was brain-dead and we gave permission for them to turn off the machines. The following Tuesday, February 14, there was peace as we buried her. There was peace during the memorial service and there is peace in knowing where she is.

“… And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

Francie Overstreet

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