Visiting Joy Negus - A True Christian Friend
|The four of us in the early 1970s||Visiting Joy, Friday 11 April 2008|
Joy Negus died on Saturday 26 April 2008 and her funeral was on Tuesday 6 May at Stapleford Baptist Church, Nottingham. The following is an e-mail that I sent to a number of people two weeks before she died.
Last Friday, 11 April, Wendy and I visited Joy, for the last time.
We first met David and Joy at Beeston Evangelical Free Church, Nottingham way back in 1973. We arrived one Sunday morning on our motorbike and we introduced ourselves in the cloakroom as we peeled off our helmets, scarves, gloves, leggings and so on. Joy, in smart suit and matching hat, later told us that she thought we were a little weird. David probably agreed. But though we have met rarely, we have been firm friends over these last 35 years – the bonds of Christ can be tenacious and enduring. Back then (see attached photo), we were all twenty-somethings, childless, naïve, but enthusiastic.
Now on Fraser Ward at the City Hospital, there she lay, propped up on her hydraulic bed, which moves her regularly to prevent bed sores, with drip tubes in her left arm, which pump nutrients, morphine and other drugs into her dwindling body (she has lost three stone in recent weeks), her wig on (the huge zap of radiation treatment to her upper spine has robbed her of most of her luxuriant hair), surrounded by boxes of tissues, vases of flowers, greetings cards and sick buckets.
There she lay, queen of all she surveys, with David at her side (see attached photo). She had just woken up when we arrived. Her eyes sparkled briefly and then that winsome smile lit up her thinning face. For the first half hour, she dozed but listened to all our conversations, chipping in every so often. She was in abdominal pain and getting increasingly restless. Then she threw up, long in time and vast in volume. After that she brightened up and we swapped news about families, friends, the Christian life, churches we knew, funeral hymns and other more mundane topics. There were unembarrassing silences too.
Is she really dying? Yes, she is, but we could be excused for sometimes thinking otherwise. Out came that giggle, that quick wit and that warm forthrightness. She still sweetly bickered with David, insisting, for example, that he add more lime cordial to her drink. She was almost as valiant as ever, but inevitably now more tired, yet still brave. And she still has her tender spots. We spoke of our grandchildren – ‘I’ll never see mine,’ she trembled, and her eyes welled up with tears. We talked of the life to come and the Christian’s hope and comfort – ‘Yes, but it’s hard to leave those you love so much,’ she insisted. Silence all round.
Her medical team have taken Joy to their hearts. They have allocated a particular bed for her – it’s hers until she dies. And they are now gauging that in weeks rather than months. Now, after more than a month in hospital, she hopes to go back home, perhaps two or three times a week, and return to the hospital each night to resume her treatment.
Four hours later, I suggested that we must think of leaving. ‘Oh, don’t go. Stay a little longer,’ she pleaded. We did. Then we all prayed, embraced and said our goodbyes. And wept in the corridor.
This Wednesday, 16 April, will be Joy’s last birthday. She will be 56. She is hoping to be at home during the day and her family and friends are planning a little celebration. Bold, sweet Joy, Happy Birthday!
With Christian greetings,