From my heart . . .
Marty and the bolys left early this morning to go with Tommy to Jacob's honors' band concert in Memphis. It is quiet in my house--almost too quiet.
Last night I was dull from exhaustion, tired of the ups and downs, the endless decisions. Since February 18, forty four years ago, I have discussed almost everything with Tom. He's the wise one. He's the one who always reminds me of the One who shows us the way. I don't function well without him. I dread going to the hospital to see him wasting away; I look up and see him sitting aross the room, asking "Can I get you anything?"
Hospital staff have commented about his manners. Even when his speech was difficult to understand, they could hear him express his gratidude for their help. He never let a CNA leave after giving him a bath without telling her "Thank you." One day he apologized to some friends who had been in for a visit saying, "Excuse me for not getting up." Always the gentleman! Mom would be so proud--she taught him well.
When sleep doesn't come I think of things I must do or the memories Tom and I have shared. Two nights ago the thought stuck me that waiting and walking this journey with him is not so unlike the days leading up to Vietnam. Since the moment of "I do," we knew deployment was around the corner. At first we went on with daily preparations. He reported really early to the base for more training while I stayed home and dyed his underwear green. We tried to live in the moment, but war was raging and he was on his way. The past several years, we have lived in the moment, caring for one another, just enjoying being together, knowing that one of us would get orders sooner than the other. Tom's orders came for Vietnam and we knew exactly when he would go. Today it's as if Tom's orders came when he fell four weeks ago, even though at first I thought he would recover from the surgery. Now it is different; he has his orders, but we cannot know when he will pass. I walked those days before he left for war in dread, hating to see the sun go down because it brought us one day closer to departure. These are walked much the same way. The day he boarded the plane I stood and watched with what Mom and Dad described as crocodile tears streaming down my face. I was at a loss for words, fearing that I would never see him again. How different today! I know that I will see him again and that he will be free of all infirmities, free of pain. He will be waiting in our heavenly home.
That Vietnam year taught me two valuable lessons. 1) I learned from living with Mom and Dad Suttle what it really meant to be a family. They loved me as a real daughter, not just as Tom's wife. Dad said after the year was over that as hard as the year was, we had a wonderful time--and we did. 2) The Lamentations 2 verses became the starting point of every day and have continued to be firmly rooted in my life: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.
They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
In the midst of our deepest sorrow, no matter what, God is faithful. To God be the glory!