Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Years

The presence of this week’s anniversary is palpable.

A simple date on a calendar that rolls by year after year; yet it evokes such deeply emotional triggers and vivid memories.

There is no ignoring its approach.

And yet the truth is he isn’t physically here anymore.  He isn’t going to be here on the 10th and he isn’t going to be here on the 12th.  So why does the 11th feel so hard?  I can’t answer that, all I know is every fiber of my being aches in anticipation of this Wednesday.  Three years.  Just, wow.    

So we brace.

Emotionally, physically, spiritually…we try to anchor ourselves down into Christ and we ride through the week doing our best and trusting that He will fill in the gaping holes of ourselves as we put on our brave faces and weather yet another milestone.  Tears leak a bit more, voices tremble without warning, thoughts run deep, and memories flood us.  It is part of the journey and we are better for acknowledging the emotions as they come and pushing through them. 

I am prepared with things to do and people to spend my time with.  (Thank you to the friends who have reached out.  Thank you for remembering him.)  But more than just outward preparation, I am spending time following Tim’s example of leaning hard into Christ.  I am choosing to praise God for the years we had.  I am turning my hearts trembling cries into shouts of thanksgiving.  

I am grateful.  Blessed with the life we had together; proud to have been his wife; honored to have shared two decades with him; and joy filled to be rearing our children with his example of bravery, love, and dignity.

Our God is the Forever Faithful One….Even If…

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Miracles

ONCE UPON A TIME...a wife spent most of an eight month period beside her terminally ill husband at their "vacation home" on Mercy Hospital's 4th floor oncology wing. 

Excursions were rare but when able, the two would walk the hospital halls and grounds hand in hand.

The hospital had a nice little gift shop on the first floor that the couple would pass by in route to fresh air and sunshine.  Sometimes, the husband would become too weak on the journey and they would have to pause for rest beside the gift shop window.

A large display of Brighton jewelry was just beyond the glass.  The wife was drawn to a pretty necklace. Something about it made her smile. 

One day the husband felt stronger than normal and asked his bride if she would escort him and his iv pole into the shop to point out the exact necklace she liked so much.

The husband was a great provider for his family and a generous man.  The wife expected to receive the necklace as a gift from him maybe on her birthday or for Christmas.  But as is the case with terminal illness and chemotherapy, the husband's thought processes became cloudy.  The necklace was never mentioned to anyone other than the husband and the gift was never received.

In August of 2013, they wheeled the husband out of Mercy Hospital as he completed his final life extending dose of chemotherapy and returned home to die. 

He passed away in January of 2014.

In December of 2016, the wife sat in her living room flanked on either side by their two precious children, now sixteen and seventeen years old. They presented their mother with her Christmas gifts.  As she opened the first gift, a luxurious throw, a Brighton bag slipped from its folds.

As the mom reached into the bag, the very necklace that had brought smiles to her face during some of the darkest days of her life fell into her hand.  Tears fell from her face as she whispered the story to their children.


The Beginning of Her Life

I think I just finished my first book to read all the way through (other than a Bible Study) in three years.  Maybe I am wrong and just can't remember, which is highly likely.  Regardless, the completion of this book took me several months, but it concluded with this:

"She's been told that it takes ten years to figure out what you're doing.  Ten years.

She takes a breath, smiles.  She's ready to get started.

With the beginning of it. Her life."

In January of 2009 Tim was misdiagnosed with terminal leukemia and our world shook.  What we thought was our future was quickly stripped away.  For three years we lived in limbo waiting for the corrected diagnosis of non-terminal leukemia to require the onset of a lifetime chemotherapy regimen. 

This coming February will mark five years since my life came crashing down around me.  His diagnosis of throat cancer hit us out of nowhere. 

Five years of turmoil and unknown; stress and exhaustion; fear and brokenness.  A walk through horrific treatment, surgeries, and suffering.   A slow dance to death's doorstep and the whirlwind aftermath of such loss.

But over these past eight years, I have had a faithful God gently leading me.  Ninety-six months of complete and utter dependence on Him.  He has captured my tears and planted fresh springs of healing.  He has been my comfort through anguished sleepless nights.  He has been my strength and my shield. 

Yes, there has been tremendous heartache; there has undeniably been immense pain.  But there is beauty in my brokenness.  There is glory in His presence through my journey. 

So while the main character of this book has been told "it takes ten years to figure out what you are doing", I am looking with hope to my new year as I complete year eight of topsy turvy uncertainty.  May my year nine be one where life settles.  I am beyond ready for a season of calmness and joy.  And if that isn't possible, I'll be okay anyway, because my God has proven Himself as faithful and steady.  He is constantly present.  He is enough.