It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that our beloved sister and friend, Bernita "Bea" Jackson, died quietly this afternoon at Swedish hospital. She had a number of health complications in recent months, including a malignant intestinal blockage that required emergency surgery. Unfortunately, she could not sufficiently recover and when I spoke with her on the phone yesterday in rehab, she was in great pain and anticipating an ambulance. During the night, she took a serious turn. Her brother, the Rev. George Wilson, and her brother-in-law Don Swisher were able to visit with her while she was lucid, and George went through the 1928 Litany for the Dying with her. She was able to do the responses. She fell into a deep sleep. Later, in the wee hours of this morning, the nurses played her videos and recordings from her phone, and she responded to the voices of her loved ones before lapsing into non-responsiveness. Today, I spent the morning talking to chaplains who managed to finagle me a Last Rites exception and get me to her floor. When I arrived, she was breathing slowly, but did squeeze my fingers very gently when I slid my hand in hers. We stayed there, alone, in the bright winter sunlight, holding hands while I said the prayers, and then we just sat. She breathed her last breath free of pain, calm and sure, while we rested in each other's presence, touching. A holy death for a holy life.
Every time I spoke with her over the past year, she confirmed her readiness to be with God and her absolute lack of fear of death. My heart is certain about where she is, but oh, how we will miss her.
Rest in peace and rise in glory, Bea. There will never be another like you.
Time to mourn together during COVID and future funeral arrangements are yet to be determined and will be communicated as soon as possible. Your clergy are on call to talk, process, and grieve with you.