Anne died on Christmas Eve. She had been ill for two years but had the sort of spirit that made you think that she couldn’t die, that she wouldn’t die.
As the illness took hold, everything that could go wrong went wrong for Anne but through it all she was able to find something to laugh about. I’m no Shakespeare or even Dylan Thomas, and I can’t capture in words the essence of Anne. She was special. At her funeral, the crowds in the church were matched only by the crowds outside, unable to get in. It was a privilege to know her.
So where was God in this? We’re supposed to be able to trust God to do the right things. Was it right to let a young mother die when he could have healed her? Nearly every part of me screams ‘No’, but somewhere deep inside is the knowledge, borne out by my own experience , that God can be trusted. More than that, he is the God who chose to let his own dearly loved son be tortured and killed for us, for me, for Anne, because he knew what the end result would be. I can’t begin to understand why tragedies like Anne’s are allowed to happen. I can only hang on to the thin thread if faith that God really does know what he’s doing. Without that, there’s really not much point in anything.
Anne would have been forty this year. Last summer while on holiday, camping under electricity pylons as only Anne could, she bought a rather expensive candle in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0, justifying it by saying, ‘If I make it to forty it will be worth celebrating.’ She didn’t and I miss her.
(Written in the spring of 1995)