Saturday, January 14, 2012

Truth . . .

It has been difficult to write. For all the "stiff upper lip," the smile on my face and the Steel Magnolia appearance, I have been miserable. Through this past year, so many have affirmed me and offered words of encouragement, saying "how well I am doing." The truth is: I haven't done that well. I have been, as one psychologist wrote in her book, A Deepening Love Affair, "papering my walls with activities." That has been easy and comes naturally. First, there were arrangements to be made for Tom's service, the trip to Mississippi for the burial and memorial, Tommy's call to a new church, all the notifications and the stuff to be done when someone dies, getting a house ready to sell, buying another, moving, unpacking, family activity, "granny day care," a new doctor and regular trips to Jackson to see him . . . the list seems endless. Some days I am alone with a family of seven just across the pool. As I have sorted through boxes, I find pictures of times past and they tug at my heart. Some bring smiles; others bring tears. Several weeks ago I asked God to take away the pain of Tom's loss; He has, but the profound sadness, the emptiness remain. It has been suggested that I have not allowed myself to grieve, something I don't deny; I'm not sure I know how. And, during the last several weeks, I have learned of the deaths of both old friends and newer ones--precious folks from our home church and in the first older adult group I staffed; a special college friend and then just this past week Jan Stone. I was both stunned and saddened by her passing. What a great lady! What a great friend!

Life is indeed fragile! Last night I learned that our church secretary who was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer last spring, has been pronounced cancer free. Praise God! On the outside, looking in, most would have thought that Tom would outlive me by years. Until Christmas of 2010, he had not been in the hospital since 1944. Yes, he had allergies that plagued him at times, he had a back that would "go out," but until the Parkinson's diagnosis in 2003, he had been one healthy person. He was a man of integrity, a man who put God above all, someone who tried to be obedient. I keep thinking, "why was my Tommy taken from me?" In the past few days I have become aware of the error of my thinking. He wasn't "mine" at all. He always belonged to God and he was God's gift to me. Even now, I cannot full comprehend what that truly means. There was Tom, with an incurable, debilitating disease, our secretary with deadly lung cancer, Jan, so much like the Energizer Bunny, who was here one day, gone the next, and here I am, having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer over nine years ago. Try as I might, I cannot make sense of it.

Job couldn't make sense of his circumstances, but he never denied or cursed God. He remained faithful in spite of his afflictions and his so-called friends who preached to him. What I need to do is to quit with the questions and get on with answers God has already provided. He is the one who lights my path, who can heal my broken heart and who knows what my future holds. I know this in my heart; I pray to trust Him more.

Pastor Margaret

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