“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
– C.S. Lewis
Joe was one of my favorite patients. I speak about Joe in the past tense because he has gone home to be with Jesus. During the six years that I had known him, he was always a perfect example of warmth, kindness, honesty, and hope despite the fact that he was painfully and slowly dying from cancer. Whenever Joe made an appointment to see me, he rarely talked about his pain or cancer. He was more interested about me and how my family was doing. I can honestly say that Joe gave me more than I ever gave him during those appointments. Even when he was at the hospital getting his chemotherapy, his eyes revealed his compassion for others who seemed to “have it worse” than him. And towards his final days when his health was rapidly deteriorating, he was more concerned about Dorothy, his wife, than about his own suffering. That’s the way Joe was—he cared more about others than himself. The only time he put himself first was when a Cincinnati Bengals football game was playing. Nobody dared to interrupt him then!
After Joe’s funeral, Dorothy shared with me this story. Whenever something especially amazing or spectacular happened in Joe’s life, he often said, “Oh wow!” That was one of his trademark phrases. When somebody received particularly good new, whenever he witnessed a spectacular fireworks show, or when the Cincinnati Bengals made an eighty yard touchdown run, everybody around Joe expected him to say his hallmark “Oh, wow!” He didn’t say it everyday, but when he did, everyone agreed that the sight or news was impressive.
During the last few hours of Joe’s life, his family surrounded him in love. His wife lay in the bed with him stroking his forehead and letting him know that it was “ok” to go home to Jesus. His breathing became more labored and difficult. But before he died, a peaceful expression came over his face, and he said one last, “Oh wow!” Then, he was in paradise.
Could it be that Joe’s last gift to his family was a tiny glimpse into what heaven might be like? I don’t know. But I do know this: from how the Bible describes heaven, “Oh wow!” sounds pretty accurate to me!