“There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things ‘in order,’ she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
‘There’s one more thing,’ she said excitedly. ‘What’s that?’ came the Pastor’s reply.
‘This is very important,’ the young woman continued. ‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’
The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young woman asked. ‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Pastor.
The young woman explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming…like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!’
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come.’
The Pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did.. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share ….. being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility……
And keep your fork.”
Although the words above are not mine, they were sent to me by a friend…..I can’t help but think of Dianne who passed away today…also a young woman, still in the prime of her life who wasted away from the effects of a terminal illness. Now I don’t and did’nt know Dianne very well….she was the sister-in-law of my sister and I have not seen Dianne in over 30 years, so I have no idea what her thoughts and feelings were about religion and whether she would have wanted what the young woman above wanted. But, what does reasonate with me is what is said about friendship.
About the analogy of the fork….how the best is yet to come. What a lovely perspective this lass had. It relates directly to Dianne. Despite her illness and impending death, from what my sister told me, she remained positive, had a calm air and held no anger… She gave more than asked….she started a pay-it-forward system (reminding me of the movie ‘Pay It Forward’), giving us the opportunity to contribute, she gathered friends and family around her, re-uniting some with others, she imparted an air of love and gratitude, maintaining to the very end her dignity and grace.
And although there were many unresolved issues in her life, along with great tragedy, she did not lash out or ask ‘why me?’. She simply enjoyed the time she had and made the most of what she had. So this is for Dianne who despite the fact that her table would soon be empty…..kept the fork of friendship in her hand. I have no idea if she thought she would be going on to a better place, or how she felt about the afterlife or even if she thought there was one, but here on this earth, from what my sister told me… she made the most of the friendships she had…… and I am sure she has left behind some lovely memories in the minds of the people who shared her last days…. so as you continue with your life think on these words………….
Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share ….. being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility……
Rest in peace Dianne…..you gave those who knew you in your last days some very special memories.
And to Jonathan and Sue who gave so much to help Dianne live her last days surrounded with love……Friends like you are a very rare jewel, indeed!