Someone you know is dying. You gather around their bed wishing, hoping, praying things were different. They ask you to draw closer. They have something important to ask you. Tears drip from the corner of their eyes as they quietly ask you to promise to do something for them. You say, “yes!” before you even hear the request, honored to be asked. You steady yourself long enough to hear the details and realize the magnitude of what you just said yes to. What do I do? What would you do?
That was my dilemma when Alice knew time on this side of heaven was . . .
. . . running out due to her ALS diagnosis.
Alice kept many secrets throughout her life journey, some even from me, her best friend. Shame, embarrassment, and fear factored into why she held back certain details of her hellish childhood and the ongoing aftermath to put the broken pieces of her mind back together again.
“CJ,” she said, “after I’m gone, would you write my story?”
WOW! I wasn’t expecting that! I thought the deathbed request would be a final gift or note to be delivered to someone. Maybe it would be a promise of helping Penny, my daughter, watch over her precious dog, Oreo. Those requests would have been simple to fulfill. But, THIS? My mind spun round and round, wondering how to reply.
Alice saw my stunned look. “CJ, you are an amazing writer—the only one I trust to tell the truth of my story. I’ve thought about this every day, all day. Time is running out and I need to hear you promise me that you’ll do it. Write my story.”
I shot back, “What about your family? They don’t even know the whole truth. I wouldn’t want to hurt them in any way.”
She shook her head. “The truth is like a sword. It cuts deep, but then healing can begin. My family needs healing. Besides, it’s my truth, my story, and it’s overdue to be shared. I regret that I allowed fear to be in the driver’s seat, time and time again, and didn't tell it myself. I didn’t trust God enough. For that, I am sorry.” She closed her eyes and I knew a wave of pain seared through her.
In a few seconds, she opened them and smiled as though freshened with resolve. “If you can’t do it for me, will you do it for God? I desire more than anything that my testimony helps others who are broken and damaged . . . like me. Or by life’s circumstances. They need the hope and healing that can only come from faith in Jesus.”
Alice was wise to appeal to my God-pleasing nature. So, I promised and took on the challenging God-assignment.
I spent two weeks by Alice’s bedside interviewing her; aghast to hear more horrific details of her life experiences and abuse added to those I already knew. Pages and pages of notes, along with her journals, artwork, and collections of hand-written papers, grew as the foundational materials necessary to fulfill my deathbed promise. I invited the Holy Spirit to be my writing partner to help me navigate through the dark, murky waters of the occult.
I made that promise six years ago. The result of it, My Life in Pieces, Alice’s story complete and published in print, fulfills the promise. I pray her courageous truth becomes a lifeline of hope and healing for anyone who has been victimized.
Maybe it’s you.
Be careful of deathbed promises, to accept and fulfill them. Extraordinary things may result!
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book
will benefit victims of childhood abuse.