Last Tuesday, those who could brave the blizzard conditions gathered to celebrate the life of a warm and wonderful hero of the faith, Shelly Marsh. At the visitation, Shelly’s family (her life and her joy) displayed her Bible, the books she loved, cherished photos and albums, a somewhat ironic snowman collection, and other memorabilia to help tell her beautiful story. One table held a basket where visitors were invited to leave a note for the family and pick up a note from Shelly. The quotes and sayings printed on this simple half-sheet of paper fit perfectly with the Shelly we knew and loved as part of the Wings of Mercy family. It seems appropriate to share a few here.
“God has given me a beautiful gift – a glimpse of eternity I would see no other way.”
That was Shelly’s response to living with Mesothelioma, the deadly lung cancer that took her last breath. Years ago, no one knew the asbestos her dad carried home on his work clothes was potentially lethal. In our culture of fear and blame, Shelly chose to trust the One who knew the number of her days.
“I can trust that He will lead me here, daily, until He is done with me – not a day sooner and not a day later.”
That was Shelly’s mindset when her local oncologist gave her 4 to 6 months to live back in 2014. He also gave her a glimmer of hope; the name of a specialist in Houston who was having notable success at slowing down the merciless killer invading her lungs. Bill and Shelly decided they were up for a few trips to Texas. Four years and 21 Wings of Mercy flights later, she had still not exceeded what she referred to as her “expiration date.”
“My two middle children got married this year and that was such a joy for me! I got to be with my husband, I got to be with my mother who is 80 years old, I got to be with my friends and do the volunteer work I love…”
That was Shelly’s response in a Wings of Mercy TV interview last summer when our host asked, “What have you done with the gift of four years?”
“When we don’t have the healing, we still have the healer.”
That is an example of Shelly’s unshakeable faith in the power her Savior Jesus has over death – a faith that is her legacy.
“How would it change me, my marriage, those around me – if I lived fully loved for the next month?”
That is Shelly’s challenge to all who want to be more passionate and intentional about the life they are living and the words they are saying. For Shelly, it is no longer a month to month aspiration. She has been given what she only caught a glimpse of here, an eternity of living fully loved.
To Bill and the entire Marsh family and faith community, may God sustain you with His loving mercy and give you His peace. You have indeed been fully loved.