The battle won

And so it was that at 9:55 p.m. on March 6, 2017, Marissa Alice Bundy, brave warrior princess, put down her sword and crossed over into glory to meet her Savior face to face.

I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget the battle or the bravery or the ending. I want to remember every part of the story–from first to final breath.

Marissa’s pain had increased day by day, and her knees began to buckle when she walked. We were supposed to head to Duke for scans on Tuesday and a visit with the oncologist on Wednesday. But when I explained her new symptoms, her doctor admitted her directly to the hospital to determine the cause of her loss of mobility. By the time we got there, she could barely walk even with assistance.

They thought perhaps a tumor was pressing on her spine, so they did a few tests. One painful test, a lumbar puncture, was done to test the fluid in the spine. On Wednesday she had been scheduled to see her doctor and begin a new immunotherapy drug. But instead we waited in the hospital for test results. Her pain increased and she lost more of her mobility while we waited.

On Thursday morning, her oncologist came into her room with the results. She’s brilliant and she’s tough, but she cried when she told us that the cancer was in her spinal fluid, the most difficult cancer to treat. Since Marissa’s cancer was in so many other places, we were out of options.

Marissa asked the doctor how long she would have and the answer was weeks at best. I watched her face. I expected sadness and even despair, but what I saw was relief. She told me later her first emotion was peace, and I could see a determination to finish her fight well. She spoke with joy of heaven. We talked about the most important things she wanted to do before she took that journey.

She wanted to marry Daniel. She wanted to see her Grandma. She wanted to sort through all of her things and give them away to people she loved. She wanted to say good-bye.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get her pain managed for going home. They contacted hospice to meet us there, and we headed out. By the time we got home, she was sleeping almost all the time. She could respond to some questions, but not really talk.

She was surrounded by love. I will never forget the tenderness of her brothers helping her into her hospital bed or her sisters giving her sips of water. Or of Daniel, faithful and sweet, continually encouraging her.

She rallied some for some family visitors on Sunday, but mostly she was fading away. On Sunday night, Daniel placed a beautiful ring on her left hand.

Through the night she had some agitation, and the nurse came early Monday morning to increase her pain pump. On the day of her home-going, we gathered around her. We sang to her. We prayed for her. We told stories. We read God’s words to her. Over and over, we called out: “We love you, Rissa! We are so proud of you! You have finished your race!” We talked of heaven and her Savior. We told her it was okay to stop fighting, to let go.

As her breathing became more labored, we increased our encouragements. We took turns expressing our love and thankfulness for her. We urged her on.

I felt the intensity of God’s reality and the secure hope of His salvation.

Eventually her breath became more shallow and we gathered closer. Daniel moved to the head of the bed and kissed her head. And finally she relaxed.

Finally, she was free.

And grief was there. It gripped us all. Father, mother, sister, brother, beloved one–we sobbed. We wept. We sorrowed deep.

Oh, the pain of missing her. Oh, the ache that fills our hearts.

But there is joy. There is goodness. There is light.

There is even beauty in this darkest night.

Because of the Lamb! The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! She is with Him now in glory, forever with her Lord. She fell asleep in pain and woke in glory!

Her battle is won!

She’s safely home in the arms of Jesus.






14 thoughts on “The battle won

  1. Your gift for writing is profound but your life lived in the light of our Savior is so edifying to others. Our Lord breathes light in dark places and makes joy where only tears should be and you dear one have clearly opened the pages of glory that God has entrusted you with to share with many people. Like me, that doesn’t know your family but knows your God and knows cancer. I pray that God will fill your hearts with his completeness during the journey of grief that’s ahead. Grief is a journey that has a life of its own but HE is there. HE will continue to be your, our, all in all. Praying for you and your family. Again, thanks for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Colleen in my broken heart as I wrote the message above I did not mention your sweet warrior Marissa. Her testimony was such a blessing. I would read your entries to my husband and express her clear desire to honor her Lord in the journey before and around her days. Telling him as my journey continues that I will continue as a warrior that others see Christ in me. Christ defined your warrior! ❤

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  2. Last night I shared with the women during our prayer time that Marissa had entered into the presence of the Savior and as I shared I told of your testimony, still radiant in the face of such staggering grief. We discussed how this is possible and I told my dear sisters that this is what we strive for…a faith that will not fail no matter how it is tested. Then, we prayed. For you, for Lenny, for your other kids, for the Mount Calvary family, and these women wept as they prayed. They have never met you but we are all sisters and they are all mothers and for those reasons they wept and prayed. I know that prayer meetings were full of people doing the same thing for you last night. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. You certainly didn’t have to but how beautiful it has been to see some “warrior Christianity” in the world today. The effect of such a display is sure to move the hearts of many to bravery in the face of overwhelming difficulty. I have a pillow on my bed with the words of “He Who Would Valiant Be” printed on it. A favorite Mount Calvary memory for us. That word is a perfect description of your Marissa and, I pray, for your entire family now as well.

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  3. Oh, what a glorious reunion awaits!
    I am praying for you all. I know our Lord will daily give you His unspeakable joy and supernatural grace.
    Marissa was a victorious warrior in all areas of her life by His matchless grace and was used by our Lord to bless so many lives.

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  4. My heart is overflowing with sadness and joyfulness !! So sad for all of you and so joyful that Marissa is with her Lord and Savior!! Free from the battle , free from pain and suffering!! Can’t wait to meet this brace soul someday!! Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives and the privilege to pray!!🌸🙏

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  5. We lost our 19 year old son to metastatic testicular cancer in June. How you describe your daughter’s home going was much like it was with our son. We are Syu thankful we have the assurance of seeing our precious son again and rejoice that he’s in His presence. We mean it so much when we can honestly say “We know how you feel.” May you experience His love and grace.

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  6. Having gone through this with my husband last year, I can imagine the heartache you are suffering from your loss while at the same time rejoicing because you know she is in our saviors arms. No pain, no suffering and no more worrying about this horrible disease called cancer. Once that diagnosis is given, life is forever changed. I hope and pray the people who read or who are experiencing this, will develop a relationship with God if they don’t have one. Without it it would be so hard to live with this disease or accept dying with it. To those who do have a relationship with God, may this strengthen it. May God be with you all and comfort you in the coming days. They are not easy, but He will give you the strength.

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  7. Monday evening, March 6th, we had family worship rather late. It was about 9:50 PM that Keith began to close us in prayer. He prayed earnestly that Marissa would have an abundant entrance into Heaven. Little did we know that prayer was being answered right then! How marvelous God is in orchestrating all of life’s events. Then Tuesday morning I read Paul’s sermon in Acts 13. Verse 36 states that “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…” I thought of Marissa. She had served her own generation and was so burdened for them. Then I reflected on David and I realized that he not only served his generation, his life still is a testimony and example. I found myself praying that God would indeed continue to use Marissa’s life and testimony to the salvation of souls and to encourage others to live for Him. I thank the Lord for sustaining you with His wonderful peace that He promised to us before He left this earth. We will be praying much for your family in the days to come. May His very presence and His precious Word sustain you and continue to make you a blessing and an encouragement to others.

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  8. I was so incredibly inspired by your writing. My best friend and sister is also at the end of her fight. I pray that our family can handle this with as much grace . Thank you for sharing your story. I desperately needed to read this and find some peace and comfort during this time.
    Your daughter sounds like a true warrior in her battle.
    Prayers and Blessings


    • Renae, I am praying right now for your sweet sister and for you. May God grant peace that only He can give. If you are His, He will carry you through this terrible, glorious journey. I will be praying. ❤


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