Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Valentine

As Valentine's day is approaching I remember the last Valentine's day I spent with Paul. He didn't really feel like going out, but his Hospice nurse encouraged him to get out of the house for a little while and go out with me for a Valentine's Day lunch.

We decided to go for an early lunch knowing that he would be exhausted and ready for bed shortly after noon. So he took his walker, got in the car on the passenger's side and I drove us to a restaurant close by.

For the first few moments we arrived at the restaurant he seemed to be doing okay. We found a booth close by the door and sat down. The waitress came by and took our order and even though he didn't feel like eating he ordered anyway. I could tell he was feeling down and and of course he wasn't feeling good, but I thought things were going pretty well.

Then we noticed that people started coming into the restaurant. Two by two they started to arrive. It was mostly elderly couples celebrating Valentine's Day together. I remember thinking they were so cute. They were holding hands and very lovingly enjoying this day dedicated to couples. The couple next to us was even sitting on the same side of the booth together so they could be close.

All of a sudden Paul said he had to leave. He said he would be waiting for me in the car.  He stood up, took his walker and headed for the door.

I asked him if he was okay and he said he was but said that he just wanted to go sit in the car. I guess I thought he was feeling ill and didn't realize his emotional state. I really should have just put some money down on the table and walked out, but I looked for the waitress and asked her to box up our food that she hadn't even delivered to our table yet, so I could take it home with us. And it seemed like it took her FOREVER! I finally received the food, paid the bill and we were on our way home.

When we got home, I found out why Paul left the restaurant so abruptly. It was seeing those elderly couples lovingly celebrate a day that we would never get to experience again. It was knowing we would never be that 'old couple' in that restaurant holding hands.  It was the death of a dream for him. This was his moment of truth.

In grief groups we talk about all our first's. The first time we go out alone, our first Christmas alone, all the things we do for the first time alone. But this was a LAST for him. I can't imagine what it was like for him sitting there with me knowing he would die shortly and we would never be an 'old couple.'

I wish I had been more of a comfort to him that day, but I don't think I fully understood the truth he had just realized. I was still suffering from the shock of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis three months earlier and my mind had not accepted the reality that he was dying. I don't think I accepted it until long after he was gone.

Many times I asked God, "Why? Why didn't we get to be that old couple with a long history of Valentine's Days, and Thanksgivings, and seeing Grandkids off to college and all the things that come with the decades of marriage? Why God, did all our dreams have to die?"

I met a man who was in his 80's whose wife had died of a heart attack.  I remember his question to God was "Why?" His wife had heart problems but she was recovering, and then she died. He didn't understand why she had to die at this time. I remember thinking how she was blessed to have 20 more years than my husband. Then I met a young widow who wanted to know why her husband didn't live to see their daughter go to kindergarten.  

No matter how old or young our loved ones are when they pass on from this life, I think most of us feel we just didn't get enough time with them. We didn't get to hold them enough, we didn't have enough time to tell them how much we loved them or just sit next to them and hold their hand. We wanted one more birthday, one more Valentine's Day, or just one more day to love them.

So how do I reconcile my pain with an all powerful God?

There are things that I will never have an answer to while I am here on this earth. And if God did answer my question to, "why now?" Would I miss him less? Would I grieve less?

Deuteronomy 29:29 - The secret things belong to the Lord our God. But those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever that we may follow the words of his law

In the entire book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah weeps over Jerusalem after it is destroyed by Babylon and his people killed, tortured, and taken captive.  Lamentations 3:33 - For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that our life in this world is temporary. James 4:14 - "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

I remember visiting my family in the mountains of Tennessee in the summers when I was young. In the early morning hours this magical mist would appear and settle over the mountains making them appear foggy and eerie looking. It seemed to just lie on the grass making it wet to my bare feet as I walked across the field. Then the sun would get blazing hot, as it does in Tennessee in the summer, and this seemingly magical mist just disappeared!

Sometimes I get so caught up in living this life that I forget that it is like that mist, only temporary. Here for a little while, then it vanishes.

Revelation tells us that death is the last enemy to be defeated and that we will live with God and be his people and he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Some day we will be with the people we love who have accepted the Lord and passed on from this life for eternity in the new heaven and the new earth . Death, mourning, crying and pain will be the "old order of things."  The people we love will no longer "pass away." Death, mourning, crying and pain will  all pass away.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Princess Worrier

Not so long ago I would go to bed at 11:00 or 11:30 pm (after Jay Leno), and wake up about 8:00 am. Those were the good ole days. Now it doesn't matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at 2:00 am.

I lie there wishing I could go back to sleep,  and that's when it starts.....

Someone told me once that if you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about someone you should pray for them, so I do. I pray for the people I love who are having a hard time in their lives, anyone who is sick, all my children and grandchildren by name and by need.

As I pray for each individual, I begin to dream of the possibilities of their life, the jobs they could have, the things they could accomplish and the people they could reach for God, of the gifts they have been blessed with and they don't even know it. And what would happen if they just changed this thing or that thing in their life. It's like day dreaming in the middle of night. But these are the dreams I dream for them that are not necessarily their dreams and not necessarily God's plan for them. 

And as time ticks by I think of someone else, and someone else, and I possibly fall asleep in between some of these as a result of trying to pray when I'm half asleep and half awake... and so it goes until eventually I fall back to sleep sometime in the early morning hours.

I started asking myself, is this really prayer or am I being a worrier? I did not misspell WARRIOR. I said worrier. I could try to make you (and me)  think I am a prayer warrior staying up all night praying for people, but I have this sneaking suspicion that this is my way of spending the lonely middle of the night hours in worry. Worrying about things that haven't happened yet, things that may never happen, and imagining everyone's life the way it should be according to me. It's a middle of the night worriers' day dream.

I should tell you that I come from a long line of worriers. My dad is the king of worriers, so I guess that makes me the Princess Worrier.

Jesus asks in Matthew 6:27 -"Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  Worry will consume our thoughts causing anxiety, headaches, ulcers, chronic pain, depression, exhaustion, and if we let it, it can immobilize us.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the apostle Paul tells us to take EVERY thought captive. So as I got myself ready for bed last night I imagined that these prayers, wishes and dreams  (and worries) that I have for the people I love were in boxes lying all over the floor of this big warehouse that was my brain, and I scooped them all up in a big net and said "Here you go, Lord. Here are my thoughts. All captive. I give them to you to do as you will."

I missed my 2:00 am usual wake up time last night. I don't remember anything until 5:30 this morning.

Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I'll now keep a list of who and what to pray for and do it in the morning when I'm wide awake so I can avoid my mind wondering off to worryland. And if I do wake up in the middle of the night I'll try to steer my mind toward things that don't make me anxious, like the beach, a cruise ship, and what it will be like to live in Heaven.