Nancy at Relay for Life
A year ago this February I lost my best friend, Nancy Jean Clum, to breast cancer. She was an amazing woman whose light for Christ brightened our little corner of the world. She left behind a husband, children, grandchild, and friends from every walk of life, all of whom cherish her memory.
Two years ago, the Christian school I had worked at for nineteen years unexpectedly closed. (A sad time, but God used it in my life.) I was left without a job for a while and spent lots of time with Nancy. So I was also with her for almost every day of the last six months of her life (summer 2009 to February 2010).
I had the privilege of driving her to doctor’s appointments, keeping her company at home, and sitting by her side in waiting rooms for many hours. Those precious days made a big impact on me. Yes, I watched Nancy’s body waste away, but I also clearly saw her spirit grow stronger. She lived out the truth of II Corinthians 4:16 & 18,
Nancy and grandson Ethan
“Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day . . . while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Nancy definitely kept her eyes on things eternal. Not that she didn’t suffer grief, doubts, pain, and tears. But as it became clear that God did not plan to bring healing on earth–even though she could barely speak at times–she would draw a Bible on a piece of paper, tap it with her pen, and whisper, “This is still true!“
I’ve written about Nancy before but felt compelled to lift up her memory again during this memorial month. I know my posts tend to be long, but I hope some of you will take the time to read this and be inspired.
I miss Nancy. And I guess I’ll want to share stories about her and speak of her for as long as . . . well, until I see her again!
The story below is part of what I wrote about Nancy right after her death. I prefaced it with this quote: “A friend accepts us as we are, yet helps us to be what we should be.”
Nancy enjoying her family
On a sunny afternoon in September, I sat beside my best friend Nancy at a school board committee meeting. She gestured with characteristic enthusiasm, blue eyes alight, as she sounded forth on fundraising. Then the high school principal signaled that it was my turn to speak.
Nancy cut me off with a wave of her hand and said to him, “Let’s just save time here. Renee and I think the exact same thing.”
Even then, I knew it wasn’t true.
I had first met Nancy at the local Bible study she hosted for our women’s group. Initially, she did the talking, and I did the listening. But after she broke through my natural reticence, we discussed everything—our fears and problems and hopes and goals. I lent her my books. She actually appreciated that I underlined things and wrote in the margins. She read all my comments. She encouraged me in each undertaking of my life.
Nancy, Dave, daughter Jessica, son-in-law Jesse, and grandson Ethan
And she modeled Christian love in action as she reached out in tangible ways to every person God sent her way.
One dark January day, Nancy learned she had breast cancer. Her cancer journey began with a mastectomy. Several of us visited her a few hours after the momentous surgery. She lay in bed, weak, pale, obviously in pain, and encouraged us to minister to the other patients in the hospital.
“Don’t worry about me,” she whispered. “You should see the woman in the next bed. She really needs you.” Continue Reading…