Jodi Holzhausen died yesterday, after an epic and courageous three-year battle with cancer. A few moments after I’d spoken with Stephan, I was in the farmhouse alone. The house is empty and a little desolate after last week’s fire, and the terrible smell of burnt wood and plastic still fills it. I was standing in the living room, reflecting for a moment on Jodi’s life with the phrase ‘Jodi died today’ spinning in my head. I looked up and saw on the mantlepiece a card that Caroline had sent from the UK for Bex’s birthday. Beautifully hand-drawn in gentle colours it carried the message of Proverbs 31:25 ‘She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
What a perfect description by which to remember our lovely friend Jodi.
In all her medical battles of recent years, she was clothed in the most remarkable strength. Her faith; her love for Stephan and the children and her unique zeal for life just couldn’t be extinguished by the harshness of the treatments she endured.
She never lost her dignity. Jodi could speak openly about the possibility of dying, even as they stuck needles in her and tried al they could to get her body back in order. In all of it she remained the very picture of dignity.
And she did laugh. Every day and with immeasurable joy. She had an immense confidence in the future. She knew that whatever came, her journey would continue to be a great adventure of love and faith.
I realised this morning that seeing jodi in her final weeks has redefined for me the meaning of ‘eternal life’. Sometimes when someone is dying we feel it is our job to reassure them. We try to give them courage: to help them know that death is not the end. This was never necessary with Jodie. She knew. She reassured those around her. It was not just her knowledge. It was her spirit. Even as her body took blow after blow, her spirit remained strong. It made me realise that no matter how the cells of our flesh decay, there is life in us that cancer just can’t kill. Eternal life is not just what we’re waiting for - it is not simply a description of the age to come. It is what we live now, when faith and the resurrection power of Christ are at work in us.
Cancer took Jodi’s body. We will miss her terribly, and we pray for Stephan, Lucy, Lucas, Tobi and Tomi in their loss. But cancer did not take her life. It couldn’t: it isn’t strong enough.
Thank you, Jodi, for showing us what eternal life looks like now.