Sunday, January 25, 2015

Recollections of Letting Go

Sadly, Camie Heard, who I wrote about last week, passed away the day after her birthday.      
It's had me thinking back on my own family's experience, because it's nearing the time of year when my Daddy died from cancer....almost six years ago.  His fight with a very aggressive form only lasted a little over a year, but it was a very painful, crippling year for him. 

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but there seems to come a point when you start to realize that the scales have tipped....that this world has nothing else to offer the one you love and there are too many wonderful things waiting on them in the life to come to keep praying the same prayers. You look around the room at the tubes and pumps and struggle and start to weigh the suffering against the awaiting glory and you finally have to concede there's just not much of a contest anymore.   

It's kind of a surreal moment when your prayers shift from healing prayers to mercy prayers.  There is a transition you make one day at that bedside.  You begin pleading for God to come quickly and take the very person who you'd been praying would be healed.  You finally start to see that God's plan is sometimes different than yours. 

Yeah, there can be some anger.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any of that.  There's sorrow.  There's disbelief in the new reality.  Then, there's submission and acceptance.  The older I get, I'm realizing that this life is so very brief in the grand scheme of things and that if God can use a momentary separation for eternal good then He certainly knows best.  We're focused on one page......He's focused on the whole book.   

There's also a strange relief that comes.  The physical pain that they carried around with them each day, you don't realize how heavy it weighed on your own shoulders, too......until the day you know that it's all over.  Your muscles seem to loosen, knowing they're well.  They're free.  They're whole.  Maybe not in the way you wanted or asked, but they are healed.  It's amazing how something can be so devastating and yet so freeing all at the same time.

I guess when it's over, there is the peace that comes from knowing that someone who loves them even more than us has them.  A peace that they have looked into the face of Jesus.....the Jesus who died for them......a coveted moment that we can only daydream about through tear filled eyes.  A peace that they have seen their mother or brother or child or best friend......all those they'd ever grieved for through the years.  There's something awfully soothing about knowing all of that.   

I found a Celine Dion song several months after he died.  She wrote "Fly" for her teenage niece who had cystic fibrosis.  I'd never heard it before, but I found that it described how I felt about letting him go in those last days.  It's about that moment I mentioned earlier......when you look at the one you love and see only a shell of the person that they once were......when you come to the realization that keeping them here would be more about you.....and that there would be nothing in it for them.  It's that point when you're finally ready for them to just go and find their relief .....beyond the reach of time....beyond the grip of pain.....beyond cancer and side effects and fear.......and embrace the wonders that are beyond our imagining......and run toward the irresistible Light that is Jesus.   

Isn't that what love is anyway?  To want what's better for the one we cherish no matter how much it hurts us. 

The song also talks about never forgetting.  "The moon will rise, the sun will set, but I won't forget".  It's a promise that no matter how many times the family sits around the Thanksgiving table without them or how many birthdays pass with no cake that they will still be as present in our thoughts as the day they left.....that their life made a difference and it's worth remembering.   

There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him.  I bring him up in conversations.....write about him.......remind my children of things he used to say.....listen to his favorite music.....remember his special days.......even still laugh at his jokes........and beam when others say his name.  It's my way of keeping him close.....and remembered.       

Love trumps death.  Love never forgets.  Love lingers and lingers and lingers.  It may nudge you during a song .....or waft up in a smell.  It may visit in a dream or smile back at you when you look at a photograph.  It may be found in your daughter's eyes or your brother's voice.  It may come up behind you when you're looking at the ocean or cause you do a double take at the mirror.  It may roll down your cheek at the oddest moments.     

It never, ever goes away. 

I don't know how you'd get through the death of a loved one if you didn't believe in the hope of eternal life.  If I thought that I'd never see my Daddy again.....that the day we left him at the cemetery was the end of him and our would I cope? 

There's only one way to a hope that doesn't end at death and that is through Jesus. 

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying."  John 11:25

If there's one thing that Camie and my Daddy would tell us to be sure of, it might very well be that. 

Please remember the Heard family as they start to adjust to this life without their sweet one.....and have a good start to your week.   

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  1. Oh Joni, I'm so sorry. Your wonderful tribute to Camie a couple posts ago was beautiful. And tonight's, very truthful. Cancer is terrible, this post reminds me what my sister went through with her husband almost two years ago. Prayers to her family. Kathleen in Az

    1. Thanks, Kathleen. They will appreciate your prayers so much!

  2. I am sorry to hear this too. You are so right in what you've shared. I believe it and believe Him. Camie is in a better place, with her Lord and one day, one blessed day, we will be reunited with our loved ones who know Him.

    Your words about your grief and yet the moving on are beautiful and true.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


    1. Thank you, Deanna. Glad we have that assurance!

  3. Joni, I am writing this through tears. This may be my favorite post ever! There is such honesty and compassion and beauty in your words. My sweet little mother is 100 and, although she is still a dynamo, I know the day is coming soon when I will have to say goodbye to her. I have printed this post just now so I can read it over and over as I prepare for that time. Thank you for sharing in your time of grief. You are truly a blessing!

    1. That means so much to me, JeeJee. How wonderful to have your mother for 100 years and counting! Sounds like she's something else. I hope she'll be blessed with more years of quality life! She's blessed to have you.

      Thanks for always being encouraging to me. I appreciate it more than you know. Have a great weekend, JeeJee!

  4. Joni, I, too, often think about what a "blip" this life in the big scheme of things. This world indeed is just very temporary. As the old song says, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through" and that couldn't be more true. There are some days I feel like I'm going through the motions, living a good life but somehow I think when we get to heaven, well, it's there that we will REALLY start to live.

    So thankful that you have the assurance that you will be reunited with your sweet dad and dear friend as Jesus made that possible.



    1. Isn't it wonderful to know, Barbara? Thanks for your insight. I always love to hear from you.

  5. A beautiful, heartfelt tribute. What a hope and confidence we have!

  6. Thank you for this. I just remembered reading it and looked it back up to send to a friend who is missing her Daddy. Hope she loves it as much as I did! :)

    1. I hope it helps her, Patti. Thanks for sharing.