PLANT CITY — Trenda Gude had just been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, and had just undergone her first round of chemotherapy.
That night, she logged on to her Facebook account and updated her status. "Here comes Jesus, right on time," she wrote. "He has never failed me. Has he ever failed you?"
The next afternoon, a blood clot in her leg broke loose. Trenda Gude died, exactly one month after her 37th birthday.
"It was absolutely sudden," said her husband, Joe Gude. "We were bracing ourselves for a long hard fight with chemotherapy. Trenda was a fighter, and I know if there was a chance the cancer could be beaten, she was going to beat it."
If Ms. Gude sensed that she was dying, she never told her family and friends. But that last Facebook message makes them wonder.
"If you really look at that sentence in hindsight, you'd have to think she had an idea," her husband said. "But then, if she hadn't passed away, if everything was hunky-dory, you might not think anything about it."
Ms. Gude lived her entire life in Plant City. Her father, strawberry farmer Eddie Jones, owned and operated Brandon Farms for many years. He passed away last August.
She met her husband while she was still a student at Plant City High School. He had recently graduated. They met through mutual friends, and it was love at first sight. Joe Gude was struck by her personality and her unusual name.
"To me, the name just fit her perfectly," he said. "It was a beautiful name for a beautiful person. A lot of people use the phrase too loosely, but it was really true: She was the kind of person that, if you met her once, you'd never forget her."
They were a couple from then on. They dated for two years and married not long after she graduated from high school. They would have celebrated their 18th anniversary in May.
Ms. Gude worked in the office of Brandon Farms and dabbled in real estate for a while. But any work she did was secondary to her career as a parent to daughters Ashlyn, 10, and Faith, who will soon turn 13.
"I want her to be remembered mostly as a mother," Joe Gude said. "That's what she was perfect at. And she absolutely adored her kids."
Around the holiday season last year, Ms. Gude started showing symptoms of a cold. The symptoms didn't go away, and on Feb. 4, her 37th birthday, she was admitted to the hospital with what doctors thought was walking pneumonia. Weeks later, Stage IV metastatic lung cancer was diagnosed.
"This girl had never even laid a finger on a cigarette," Joe Gude said. "Never even touched one."
Still, she was young enough that everyone expected her to survive the rigorous cancer treatments.
In her last days, besides leaving that Facebook message that her family now finds so intriguing, Ms. Gude sent several text messages of scriptural passages to her pastor at First Free Will Baptist Church.
"She loved Jesus," her husband said. "She was a powerhouse for the Lord. Our kids and I know now that if we want to be with her again, we have to live this life, and we have to live it right."
Besides her husband and her daughters, Ms. Gude is survived by her mother, Wanda Jones Miller.
Marty Clear writes life stories about local residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.