I first met Jan at university. I was in my final year, and she was a fresher. I invited her and her friend Dee to a Christian houseparty, where they both came to faith. It gave us a special bond.
I spent a lot of time with them – probably too much, as I was working for my finals. There were many ups and downs. Jan was an only child of older parents from a village in Norfolk. Coming to London was a huge culture shock for her. She was a depressive and needed her friends very much, but graduated successfully, went back to her native Norfolk and had a long and fulfilling career as a teacher and deputy head. She was a born teacher and absolutely loved it.
She lived with her parents for many years, eventually buying a little house of her own not far away from them. She was devastated when they died, and never stopped missing them. She found the selling of their house a traumatic experience. She was acutely aware of having no family, and her friends were a strength and stay.
Jan developed a strong faith. She became a Methodist Lay Preacher and taught homiletics (the skills needed for preaching a good sermon) until recently. Her faith was rocked now and again but she always came through, with a deepened understanding of God and herself. It was always a connection between us. Occasionally we would have long phone calls – her voice was husky with the steroids she had to take for her asthma, and interrupted by long and painful coughing fits. Then a few months ago she was diagnosed unexpectedly with cancer in her kidney and her lung, and admitted to hospital for treatment. Some of the treatment worked, and some didn’t. Recently further tests showed that the cancer had spread to her brain and was inoperable.
She was very well cared-for at hospital in Norwich, with its state of the art equipment. She did not suffer for long. She was in and out of sleep for the past few weeks, visited constantly by local friends. She dropped into a coma yesterday, and died peacefully this morning.
What a perfect day to choose, my friend – the feast of All Saints. Rest in peace, and rise in glory.