Until Then

Over the past year I have shared stories about my parents, my children and my brothers, as well as stories about Old Man and his family.

The stories have run the gamut between humorous to heart wrenching, with a couple of stories evoking anger. Yet with all the stories there has been one person I was unable to write about, my younger sister Katye.

Katye and I were 14 months apart in age. As a child I thought having a younger sister was a pain. It wasn’t until we became young adults with children of our own, that our relationship grew and became one of best friends. She understood and knew me better than anyone, and yet still loved me unconditionally. She had one of the deepest loving souls I think I have ever met in my life.

In 1999 Katye, who was 36 at the time, lost her fight with cancer. She left a void in the hearts of those around her that still can be felt even to this day. She was a mom who loved and cherished her children, and if she were still alive she would have been an awesome grandmother. She was way too young to die, for her life had just begun.

As I was sitting on the front porch yesterday and watching the wind blow the oak tree leaves I thought about Katye and remembered one of our last meaningful conversations.

Why did the conversation come up, you might ask? About 10 days ago Mariah and I were told of a close family friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. This week she will know how far her cancer has progressed and what treatment options are available.

My heart was heavy when I heard the news about our friend. Almost as heavy as it was when Katye’s cancer became untreatable and she called to tell me.

I remember the day. It was early morning when my house phone rang. As I picked up the phone all I heard was crying followed with,

        “Sis, I am done with chemo. Nothing can be done. My time on earth is almost over.”

I was speechless. After a few minutes I asked her when she heard the news. She told me the day before. She said she knew nothing could be done. She knew she was terminal. Her body “told her.” We spoke for several minutes before she asked me this question.

        “I woke up hearing a song in my head this morning. I am not sure what all the words are, but I think you might know. All I can remember is part of the chorus. It goes something like this: ‘…but until then my heart will go on singing.” Do you know the song?”

I did remember the song. I choked back my tears as I sang the first verse and chorus to her.

        Until Then 1)

My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

She asked me to sing the song again, and I did. We spoke on the phone for about an hour. Later, the following week, I wrote a poem for her, for her celebration of life service. Before she died I had the opportunity to read the poem to her. After reading the poem she asked me to sing “her” song again. I sang it.

The chorus was sung at her celebration of life service. To this day when I hear this song I weep. Though the weeping has changed over the years. I no longer weep because I miss her, but rather I weep out of joy. Joy because I had the opportunity to know her and share in her life and her death.

We all emotionally touch those around us. I have thought many times over the last 10 days what kind of emotional touch I am leaving behind. I think I want to be more like Katye than anything else. I want to love like she loved, deeply and unconditionally.

As I think about our friend and the battle she is facing it is my sincere prayer that her battle can be fought victoriously. It is my prayer that she can keep a song in her heart as she walks through her darkest days.

I have two questions, and they are questions I have asked myself.

How will I be judged by the love I leave behind, will it be enough, or too little?

Secondly, what is the theme song to my life?

Do you have a theme song for your life, if so, what would it be?

Life here on earth is short. Time cannot be wasted on trivial things. Find your song and sing it.


1) Written by Paul O’Rear ã 2002
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