The cancer, eating away his lungs, was acute, stage four. Doctors in Tulungagung thought it was Tuberculosis. For over a year Uncle had not received the right treatment for his sickness. No one thought he would have the big C, his countenance was fresh and red. He just had this cough that seemed immune to all kind of medicines. It was until August 28th, 2012, that this bitter truth surfaced. My mom brought him to a hospital in Surabaya and in a day he was diagnosed. The doctor said that it was just a matter of time. He went back to Tulungagung and died on December 15th, 2012, 8.45 PM.
I do not know much about Uncle Xiong. When I grew up he lived in Kalimantan and while he was in my hometown, Tulungagung, I was away studying. I only met him during holiday season. This is a story that my mom tells me. I am sharing it to you for it has touched my heart and I hope it does touch your heart too.
At his funeral many paid him a respect. Over 500 breads were consumed--a number that was strangely surprising to my mom--at those mourning days. Uncle Xiong was not a public figure nor someone who liked to draw attention to himself. His life was not even a happy jolly life, I would say. He owned the saddest story of this year (my version).
Nine years ago, the reason why he came back to Tulungagung, his hometown, was that he was divorced. His wife cast him away. She took his daughter and wanted nothing to do with him. He was a rich guy; not very wealthy but had more than enough. He had a plantation and lands. His ex-wife took all of them too. I am not sure how that could happen. But he was left with almost nothing. In Tulungagung, he had to live with his sisters in the East house for he had nowhere to go.
My mom said that that event brought him closer to God. He was never serious about God before his expulsion. In his last months of his life, he never complained, mom said. Whenever he felt better, he always joined the 4.30 morning prayer at church. He also served on Sunday services as an usher, counting how many people were in and distributed church flyers. He did not just lay in bed, doing nothing and felt sorry for himself.
The best thing was that he could still praise God in his lowest time. Everywhere. In some emergency rooms. In bed. At home. Outside. He told people that Jesus is enough. He told everyone he met that the best thing in life is to know Christ. To be loved by Christ. He even shared that he has his own experience with God. He met God and God is a big, strong, and handsome man. Then God said to him that if he ever needed anything he should come to God.
A few days before he was called home, my mom asked him, "Are you still angry? Angry about your wife, what she had done to you?" He replied, "No, I have forgiven her."
No wonder he had so much joy and peace even when he was in a deep black pit of sickness. His heart was not bitter. His heart was filled with God. God indeed replaced his sorrow with strength and contentment.
Anyway, I pray that his family would know Jesus like he does. For us, my prayer --and his prayer too-- is so that we can know Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly each day of our lives, to keep trusting Him with everything we have got, and to diligently study God's Word and keep vigil in prayers.
See you one day, Uncle Xiong!