Today is not only the supposed end of the world, it is the commemoration of the death of my little sister Nina, who would have turned 40 today. I remember her vividly. She was born in Rarotonga this day, 40 years ago. She grew up in the Cooks and we returned home when she was around 5. I was 10 years older, the proud big brother. I remember looking after her, changing her nappies, baby sitting, reading books endlessly to her. She taught me to love in many ways. She went to Pigeon Mountain Primary, Bucklands Beach Intermediate, and McLeans College. She was not sporty, but she was bright. She was also beautiful. She went off to University and did zoology. She had a tough time, lost her way, and her life went downhill. She had an ectopic pregnancy after and was damaged permanently. This caused her to spiral downhill. She got into drinking. Ultimately, she died some 17 years ago from an alcohol binge sadly – aged 23. The 6 day period of her coma was horrendous, death is never good; it is horrid.
Thankfully in the year leading up to her death we reconnected as brother and sister. I was able to share Christ with her through a letter and in person. In hospital, before being put into a coma and life-support, she confessed faith Christ as Lord with me. I live in hope that she is with the Lord.
Today, I am sad, as you can imagine. Those of who have lost loved ones will know the emptiness, it fades, but is never filled. She was robbed of many years – sure, it was because of her own self-destructive behaviour, but she was a lovely woman who would have got through it and contributed greatly to the world. She reminds us that we need to take care of ourselves, watch that we don't allow us to spiral down with life's challenges, and turn to alcohol and drugs. There but for the grace of God go I if truth be known – on a number of occasions I did similar things in my youth.
It also tells us that, as in the parable of the workers in the vineyard, there is always hope. She is with the Lord and I look forward to our reunion – what a great and glorious day that will be.
For me I saw firsthand that day 17 years ago why the gospel is so important. Death is ours and God's final and most horrible enemy. Jesus came to deliver us from it. Thank God he has, for there is nothing that makes death lovely – I hate it. I will stand for life, will preach life, will believe for life – because Jesus has come and the resurrection of the death comes ever closer, made certain by the first-fruits Jesus, the first born from the dead. And life will win!
So, happy birthday Nina. I love you and miss you. I will never forget you. I can't pray to her, but God may you pass on my love – tell her she is never forgotten... until we meet again – stay gold!