Jill Evans is a dear friend of CRA and a personal friend of mine as well. Jill, her husband Tony, and their daughter Elisabeth are quick to serve our school in a great number of ways. One of the most prominent is through Jill’s leadership of our “Moms in Prayer” group, which meets each week to pray specifically for the people and activities under the roof of CRA.
Jill also helps us as a substitute teacher, and it was in that role that she visited campus recently. When I get an email from a sub teacher, I always halfway expect bad news about a particular class’s behavior. Jill’s message was quite the opposite, so I asked for and received her permission to share it with you.
Last Monday, I subbed for Amy (Austin) in her 8th grade science class. They had just arrived when I glanced at my phone and saw a friend had called me. This friend, Brenda, was a friend for 30 years, lived in the Dallas area, and was dying of cancer. I had been keeping our mutual friends updated on her situation this year, and had been checking in with her every couple days, but knew she was very near the end of her life. When I saw I had missed the call, I knew I needed to call back. We always made “appointments” for our calls because of her health and my schedule, so a random call scared me a bit.
So, I explained to the class the situation. They can be a noisy bunch, as you all know, but at the phrase “dying of cancer,” they went quiet and wide-eyed. I asked them if they would be quiet and cooperative for just a few minutes while I went in the hall and returned her call. They agreed, so I stepped out, and talked to my friend.
It was our last conversation. She passed away early last Friday morning. She went to be with the Lord peacefully in her sleep.
So, when I knew I was subbing in that same class exactly one week later (yesterday), I just couldn’t stop thinking about how those kids had given me a great gift. I knew I had to tell them, so I started the class by telling them that my friend had passed away. I conveyed to them how much it meant to me to have that last phone call with her, and that they had made it possible. I gave each of them a very small gift, but told them it was nothing compared to what they had given to me and my friend. I encouraged them to realize that their actions to cooperate last week had some lasting and good consequences, and I thanked them.
I admit my bias for this class because Elisabeth is one of them, but when I looked at them yesterday and told them how much their actions meant to me, I think they all matured a little bit. It felt to me like a holy moment where God was impressing a lesson on their hearts and minds–one they will hopefully remember the rest of their lives. I know I will.