Monthly Archives: September 2013

Love While You May


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Recently my husband said to me, “I looked up the definition of love in the dictionary and saw your picture.”

This is praise I feel unworthy of.   The number of days left to love him have always been uncertain, unknown, but now when the possibility of fewer rather than more days looms large against the diagnosis of his lymphoma in stage 3, I wish I had always loved him well.  I know I didn’t, and his love for me is evident in the mercy he has extended me over our life together.   So today, younger and older women, love your husbands well.  Honor them.  Respect them.  Focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. Pray for them.  Cherish each day and each moment you are given.

I am reminded of the beautiful music and lyrics of Bill and Gloria Gaither, We Have This Moment Today.   “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”

Today is the day to love.  Tomorrow may never come.  Love while you may.

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Tender Memories

My heart is full of deep sadness as I realize I could lose my husband to cancer.  In the midst of this journey to healing or to death, there are unexpected beautiful moments and tender memories.  I am reminded of something Pearl Buck said as she wrote about her mother who wept during the symphony, “life is infinitely sad and unbearably beautiful.”

My husband was going to have a biopsy the next day, and then we were going home to await the pathology report.  I was sitting in the pharmacy at the Mayo Clinic, waiting to get some pain pills for him when my brain registered the beautiful music that was evoking such bittersweet emotions.  I suddenly realized the music was the theme song ( A Time For Us) from the 1968 movie, Romeo and Juliet. *  In a flash I was back in the summer of 1968.  I was a young woman waiting for the young man I had grown to love.  He came to the door and took me on a date to see the movie, Romeo and Juliet.   I think our first kiss was that night when he brought me home.

* You can hear this beautiful song on You Tube   A Time For Us   Andre Rieu –  Theme Song from Romeo and Juliet

 

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Reflections On Dying Today

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My husband has been waiting for the pathology report following the biopsy of the large tumor over his left kidney.   The radiologist who looked at the MRI films thought the tumor was lymphoma, rather than a kidney cancer.   People have told us that the diagnosis of lymphoma might be good news.  They have reminded us that lymphoma is more easily treated than it was years ago.  Someone told me their relative with stage 4 beat the disease and is cancer free.  My older sister beat stage 3 lymphoma when she was 73.   She said, “You tell Howard that I beat it, and he can too.  You tell him that he is going to get better. ”

Even as we brace ourselves and prepare for the battle with cancer,  Howard and I realize that death is one possible outcome of whatever the widespread process in his abdomen and pelvis is.  While we wait, we find we are at peace with that outcome.   I remember some thoughts from a book a fellow nurse gave me in 1971 when I had only been married one year.

The thoughts from Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather resonate in my heart again now when I have been married 43 years:

“She may die before morning.  But I have been with her for four years.  Four years. There is no way I could feel cheated if I didn’t have her for another day.  I didn’t deserve her for one minute.  God knows.

And I may die before morning.

What I must do is die now.  I must accept the justice of death and the injustice of life.  I have lived a good life – longer than many, better than most.  Tony died when he was twenty.  I have had thirty-two years.  I couldn’t ask for another day.  What did I do to deserve birth?   It was a gift.  I am me – that is a miracle.  I had no right to a single minute.  Some are given a single hour.   And yet I have had thirty-two years.

Few can choose when they will die.  I choose to accept death now.  As of this moment I give up my “right” to live.  And I give up my “right” to her life…”

43 years.   I didn’t deserve him for even a day,  and yet I have been given all the days of 43 years with him.   I can’t feel cheated, if I lose him.   I will die today to any “rights”  I think I have on his life.   I open my hands and give him back to The Creator who gifted him with life 68 years ago.

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A Conversation With My God

 

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On a Friday we learned that Howard had multiple masses in his abdomen.   At that time the doctors in Denver, where we were visiting, thought he had a primary kidney cancer that had spread throughout his abdomen and pelvis.  We flew home on Saturday.   I worked on being brave for my beloved.  On Sunday I sat by the lake alone and cried.  With tears and words I cried out to my God.  “If I could have been the one to write this story, Father,  I certainly wouldn’t have saved him from a massive heart attack 6 years ago to let him suffer now.  Nevertheless, I know your thoughts are higher than mine and your ways higher than mine.  I know you love my husband.  I know your plans are for good and not for evil.  I know you numbered Howard’s days before he was born.  I know good comes out of suffering for your children, but this is so hard.  Please help.”

When I told our son Jim about my conversation with the Lord, he replied, “Oh, Mom, if Dad had died 6 years ago, we wouldn’t have had the last 6 years of memories!”   Jim’s daughter Miah, who is nine, had just been baptized and in her testimony shared that the person who had most helped her believe in Jesus was her Papa Stone.   The last 6 years were about leaving a godly heritage.

Yesterday, a friend at church gently reminded me that the way Howard and I walk this journey will be the blazing of a trail  for others who might also have to follow after us – for others who are watching how we cope with this.  I am reminded that whatever time is left on planet earth for my husband and for me, we have a responsibility to set the bar, to leave an example of what faith looks like in the valley of the shadow of death.   I know and believe the God we love with give us grace and strength.

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Reflections On The Glory Of God

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“…Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth– everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”  Isaiah 43: 6-7

Beth Moore said in her Bible Study, Breaking Free (page 38), “I believe being created for God’s glory means two marvelous truths to those who are called by His Name: God wants to make Himself recognizable to us.  God wants to make Himself recognizable through us.”

Howard, my husband of 43 years, believed he was healthy until he suddenly developed flank pain.  In just one week he went from an illusion of well being to the reality of a large mass over his kidney and multiple masses throughout his abdomen and pelvis.  One of his initial statements was, “Have thine own way, Lord.”   He has kept quoting Ann Voskamp’s simple, yet profound statement of faith, “God is always good, and I am always loved.”

As we wait for the pathology report following his biopsy, and as we wait for the official diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan, we try to process this information and how radically our life changed in the course of one week.   We are surprised by supernatural peace which we know is a gift from God and the result of the prayers of God’s people on our behalf.   Howard is surprised that he has not asked,”Why?”   Although he knows the question why is normal, and would feel perfectly comfortable hurling it to heaven, there is no why in him to hurl.

Howard is a man of the the scriptures and a man of prayer.   I think he has so long steeped his soul in his God, that his questions have been absorbed into the purposes of his Creator and Redeemer.   He believes he was designed to glorify God – to reflect God’s glory, in health and in sickness, in life and in death.   We hope for a healing, but whether there is one or not, we both want to reflect the Glory of our Loving Heavenly Father during this season of heartache in our lives.

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