This will be my first blog past after the death of my wife Carol on Feb.11th. I suppose some of this may sound a bit depressing, but stick with me on this because God has the last word, as always. First let me say that I have received an enormous amount of love, prayer and support from so many people. I am grateful and would ask you to keep the prayers coming! This is the hardest thing that has ever happened to me and I need the help.
From the beginning (The first diagnosis of breast cancer in May 2008) I knew that Carol could face death. This was cancer after all, not the flu. But the cancer that Carol had was the most common form of breast cancer, and by all accounts over a 90% cure rate. Also, she responded very well to the chemo and did great with the surgery. (Lumpectomy in Feb 2009) But when we got the word that she had an occurrence of the cancer on her liver we were hit hard. This was at the same time that my Dad passed away from cancer. (April 2009) We trusted the Lord and proceeded with more chemo through July of 09, re-scanned and found that the cancer in her liver (Metastatic breast cancer) had grown even more in spite of treatment. That ultimately led to her death in Feb. of this year. But I want to talk about the suffering.
Carol did so well throughout the ordeal. Then the cancer began to take a visible toll. I could see her health diminish and her suffering increase. Now, the most common response to this was, and is, why would God allow her to suffer that way? Not only pain, but the effects of a failing liver? (Which I must say, was extremely difficult) I don’t really have an answer, but I may have an insight.
With God, no pain is wasted. He squeezes value and meaning out of every drop. That does not mean we will understand it, and we sure don’t like it. But this pain serves certain purposes that make sense to me. One is to disengage the sufferer from their grip on this world. The other is to disengage me from her. By the time Feb.11th came I was asking God to take her to Him. Watching her suffer was the worst thing I have ever experienced. And before it was over my prayers had changed from “heal her” to “take her”. I would have gladly taken the cancer upon myself and died in her place, but then she would be writing this. So I invented a new word.
My Mom’s dad, my grandfather, had bone cancer in his spine. He lived the last couple of months in extreme pain or unconscious from pain meds. (Thank God that Carol never got to that point!) But when he died I thought it was grief to us, but relief to him. It was “Grielief”. I miss Carol every moment of every day. It is a painful loss and one I will never get over, but I have grielief. I know where she is, her faith and trust in the Lord was and is now complete. I am relieved that she no longer has to bear the burden of her sickness or of this world. But I grieve deeply her loss to me, my family and the world. This world could use a lot more Carol’s. And needless to say, I can hardly imagine life without her, and yet, here I am.
In Matt.7:24-27 Jesus tells the story of the wise and foolish builders.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
Think of two houses, built side by side, they look the same, equally as nice. Both hold up just fine in day to day use, but one is built on sand the other on rock. Day in and day out, how can you tell which is which? Really you can’t. But what reveals the truth is the storm. Only when things get really bad do you find out what you are built on. Only then do you discover that instead of building your life on God’s Word and obedience to it, you have built on ignoring God’s Word and now suffer the consequences. It is the storms that reveal the foundations. Carol built her life on the Rock, and the storm came and her house stood. Thankfully God is in the re-building and re-modeling business. Bring Him your wreckage and let Him re-build your life.
Carol is gone now. I remain. I don’t like this one bit, but I have my grielief. I have a foundation under me of Rock. I trust the Lord like Carol did. And while I don’t like the loss, I trust the One Who took her.
I’ll post more soon, in the mean time, husbands; love your wives, you don’t know how long you will have them. You do not want to look back and think; “I should have loved her better.” I loved Carol every day of our life together, (Met and started dating in 1974, married in 1982) and I love her still.
Grace and peace to you all,
Brian, thank you seems feeble, but…thank you for sharing your heart here. For reasons only God fully understands, there is something deeply powerful in giving others a window into the heart of one of His own who is grieving. To see pain and say that is real but also to see faith actively weathering a fierce storm and say that is true. Anyone looking at your “house” can see the Solid Rock you’re standing on—please know we’re all circling you with prayer.
Praying grace and peace for you, Leah and Ron
Pastor Brian, I just want to say that my prayers are with you. I have to agree with the above comment. It must be hard to share those feelings for all but I cannot tell you how much your faith is inspiring for me. God has touched you deeply. His love and grace have been poured out to you and the ability to share what is on your heart is so deeply moving. I know we haven’t met yet but I hope and pray that we will meet soon. I was really pleased to receive your email the other day and I checked out your churches website and then was led to your blog. Thank you Pastor Brian for having such a wonderful heart. I hope the best for you and what God has in store and can’t wait to meet. Peace for you as well and grace be with you,