Friend made final arrival in heaven

By Judy Brandon: CNJ columnist

Susie, my sister, and I held a common bond with Kendra Lennon. Our beloved fathers served on the staff together at Central Baptist Church when it was located at 800 Hinkle. Even though our lives guided us to different directions and cities, each of us cherished the priceless title of “Grandmother.” All three of us became teachers. We loved our mothers, and we missed our fathers tremendously. As we said, “Good-bye,” to Kendra on August 8, I was reminded of a young man and his journey.

Recently, a young solider told of his trip through a European airport on his way home to America, and a much anticipated visit with his wife and children. Since the soldier had several hours before his flight departed, he began walking up and down this major airport, looking at the sights in a foreign land. He happened upon a gate that was marked “Departure.” Even though there were several people there, the area was quiet and somber. Some were wiping their eyes. One older lady burst into tears and was being comforted by another. Others were holding hands. Their heads were held low. Some were trying to support loved ones. A few were even nervously pacing up and down. One mother was quietly drawing pictures with a young child as the other family members sadly looked on. The mood was somber.

When the boarding time was announced, people rose quietly and slowly to their feet. There were tears and weeping. There were long embraces before one boarded the plane. Children were clinging to the legs of adults. The young soldier could hardly watch! He hurriedly walked on in hopes of finding something more encouraging to focus on.

And he did, because on the other side of the departure gate was marked “Arrival.” The mood here was dramatically different. There was laughing and talking. Texting… eating and drinking…children running and playing…balloons and welcome signs. This gate was so vastly different from the departure gate that the soldier decided he wanted to see more.

As the passengers began to deplane and enter the arrival gate, their family members began running to them, hugging them, kissing them, and nearly knocking them off their feet! The kids ran to their parents and clung to them as if to say, “You will never go anywhere again! You are staying with me! Forever!” Cameras were flashing! Signs were waving! There was a atmosphere of celebration. How vastly different from the departure gate!

As we said “goodbye” to our dear friend Kendra Lennon this week, I thought of the departure gate. On our side, we were sad. We miss Kendra. We don’t understand. Her precious grandchildren lost their best friend. Her family is hurting. Yet, if we all only look to the arrival gate, we know Kendra is in heaven, only to be greeted by her beloved father, Kenneth Yeakey. She is in the presence of Jesus Christ! The celebration! The victory! The singing! How vastly different from the departure gate at the end of her mortal life.

As a Christian, we are promised that there is a life after death that is even better than what we anticipated when we face the departure gate of life. We will have a new body. There will be no tears. No sickness. No heartache. No separation. No death.

I think of the verse: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ( 2 Timothy 4:7 ) That was Kendra.