I have a wonderful Christian friend who God introduced to me quite by accident years ago. She is dying, but every moment of her life is a witness to God, and an example of astounding faith. Her name is Irene Gomez. When I met her it was a business meeting along with about 300 people. She overheard me telling a friend how wonderful my insurance company was, wanted to know who my agent was, and from there our conversation just moved on, and we discovered we had a lot in common, most especially Christ. Irene was a cancer survivor back then. She'd had two major struggles with breast cancer, completed treatment and been totally cancer free long enough for them to tell her she'd beaten it. About a year after that she contacted me, telling me that she had bad news. The cancer was back. They did some tests, then told her it looked terrible, and said if she had chemo and radiation she might be able to stretch her life out for about three more months, but she would have to stay away from her grandchildren. Her husband of many years announced he couldn't go through that again, and walked out. Her children were struggling financially. She told me she didn't want to do chemo because it didn't seem worth all the pain and expense for a few more months "away from Jesus." That has been at least two years ago. Somewhere in there, she heard of a specialist that was supposedly working miracles with a new treatment, but it was going to require an unbelievable amount of money. With prayer, raffles, and good friends - she raised the money and had the treatments. Now that she is home again, she won't tell us what the doctors said. If we ask, she just reminds us how much she loves us. So I guess our answer isn't very good. Every single day though - I get an email from Irene praising God. Today - I got this from her. I'm sure that when God calls her home, I'm going to find a fork in her hands at the service. The Fork A young woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things "in order," she > > contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. "There's one more thing," she said excitedly. "What's that?" came the Pastor's reply. "This is very important," the young woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked. "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the Pastor. The young woman explained. "My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement." "In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say..." 'Keep your fork.' "It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie." 'Something wonderful, and with substance!' So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder "What's with the fork?" Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork... the best is yet to come." The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming. At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care. Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time to, "Keep your fork." Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share...being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility....tell your friends what they mean to you today.. and keep your fork.