... I've noticed that I've been marking time in "since such and such" in the past 3+ weeks. Today it was 3 weeks ago, I said my last goodbye to my best friend . . . I remember it vividly, it seems like yesterday, it seems like years ago, all at the same time. I KNEW it wasn't Rick I was talking to, yet it was the shell of his earthly body - the shell of the person I loved and shared my inner most thoughts, dreams, fears, desires, excitements, disappointments (you get the picture) with. He, for those moments was still my Rickey, my best friend, my "bud". And I remember promising him that I would take care of our girls for him, to do the best I could with the strength he had given me and with help from the LORD! I was sad, very sad for me, for the kids, for the grandbabies, for his mama & daddy and mine, for our siblings and their spouses, nieces, nephews and friends. Yes, there was great sadness, yet, even then, it was "tempered" with gladness. Gladness that we had had those talks about our salvation, our assurance in Heaven, in eternal life, in the saving grace of our Lord and Savior. Gladness that I KNEW without a doubt, that this was "just" the shell of the Rickey that I loved with all my heart . . . his heart and soul, the parts of him I truly love had flown away to heaven days before, the part I loved and adored WOULD live on forever - for ALL eternity with Jesus.
All this to say, yes, we miss him - DESPERATELY at times, we do at times wonder "why" and then remember that "...now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully" (1 Corinthians 13:12). I'm really not questioning God "why" as in shaking my fist in anger at him, I'm just wondering "why" as in what is the purpose for our current suffering, what is GOD calling me, us to "do" through this situation . . . it's a "why" of trying to serve and honor God, even in the midst of personal turmoil. It's cliche, but "life goes on" . . . yes, it does. It did not stop on November 5 in the hospital, it did not stop on November 8 when I said that last "good-bye", it did not stop in the lightly falling snow on November 9 as they lowered that box with the shell of Rickey into the ground. No, the world kept spinning, the snow fell and turned into cold yucky rain, the sun went down each of those nights, and on God's cue, rose again the next morning . . . "life did (and does) go on". And Rick would want that for us - of that I am sure! :)
Today, I was telling my best (girl) friend (the sister I never had - I LOVE you so much Donna!) (and please don't be offended if I refer to some of you in this next statement - remember at the beginning I said this wouldn't always be "pretty") . . . I made the comment, "I'm tired of people looking at me with "pity"." The hugs, the love, the prayers being said, the words of encouragement, the memories people have of my wonderful husband, the kids wonderful daddy, those are fantastic, but please, don't look at us with "pity" in your eyes!! No, I NEVER wanted to be a single parent, I NEVER wanted to make all the decisions that I'm now making all on my own (well, not really on my own, I have much wise counsel), I NEVER asked for this to be the end of my "fairy tale". But . . . (and here's where the "rubber meets the road") . . . I'm not writing my life's story, GOD is, and unless I want to deny publicly EVERYTHING that I have put my faith and trust in all my life (which I don't want to do), I HAVE TO BELIEVE that God is writing my story, and this is NOT the end of my "fairy tale", it is just a new chapter. A chapter that, of course, I figured wouldn't be written for 20 or 30 more years, but, remember, I'm not doing the writing, HE is. So, I will continue to TRUST, we will continue to LIVE life - to the fullest - within our "new normal". We will keep on going on shopping trips, going to work, going to school, going to basketball games, getting excited when MY daddy calls me to tell me he shot an 8 POINTER this morning (you go dad!!), and the list goes on. So, please, I KNOW your intentions are pure, you hurt for and with us, some people are gifted to express these feelings much more eloquently than others, and that's all FINE, but really, we are doing o.k., we are hanging on to GOD with both hands - tightly - and HE is holding us back - even tighter! GOD is writing our story, HE has all the answers, we just need to be still and listen to Him, take HIS hand and let Him lead us down this path, follow Him on this fork in the road, and He will lead us through each chapter, until finally "our" last chapter is written and we are at Heaven's door and that beautiful reunion with Rick!
My devotional today said in part: "In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident . . . . you have discovered flowers of peace blossoming in the most desolate places. You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts." Sure, if I was writing the "book of me" I'd have NOT written this chapter so soon, it would have been written when Rick was 80 or 90 +, but the Lord has placed me in situations where my strengths were irrelevant and my weaknesses were glaringly evident. HE is writing my book and through this chapter, I have discovered flowers of peace blossoming in the most desolate places. Yes, I have become WEAK, and HE has become STRONG. I am knowing HIM more intimately than I ever have. I have become bold in sharing my faith. I have turned to HIM moment by moment as I "LEAN IN" (sound familiar, Alison?) to the situation at hand. I HAVE been receiving the gift above all gifts an intimate and "raw" knowing and needing and learning of Jesus. HE has written this chapter, HE knows how it goes, I don't, I just have to reach out my hand like a little child and hold tightly to His! Aaahhhhh, what a resting place, "What a fellowship, what a joy divine, LEANING on the EVERLASTING ARMS, I have blessed peace, with my Lord so near, leaning on the EVERLASTING ARMS!"
English Standard Version (ESV)
11And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.