In the Shadow of Death, Part 4

This is a continuing email exchange between Wayne and a man who is struggling with healing, faith, love, trust, and mortality as his wife appears to be dying from metastasized breast cancer in the face of a promise they both held in their hearts for her healing.

You can read from the beginning starting here.

From Alan on May 8, 2019 (12 days after the first email):

I wanted to share an amazing thing that I realized this morning: I’m not freaking out. God has taken the words you have shared with me and used them as living water that is flowing peacefully in my soul. It is as if the raging waves of emotion have heeded His command “Peace, Be still.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have wept, and prayed with all of my might. But the sense of sheer abandonment I was abiding in is slowly being replaced by His being made more real to me. I actually sense Him in a different way than I ever have before.

There is no way to sugar-coat what facing the possible death of the woman I have loved most of my life feels like. It’s a nightmare, a horror story. What’s different is that now I am a little less scared.

Lynn is smiling at me more these past couple of days. Yesterday evening she thanked me for serving her. I told her it was my honor and pleasure to do so. She grabbed me as I was leaning over the bed to better hear what she was saying and planted a big kiss on my cheek. It was awesome!

She is wanting to get up again and to try and walk. Who knows how this will play out but God? I do know that I still believe for her healing, but in a calmer way than before. His peace has invaded my faith.  We’re thankful for another day and are even more thankful for His presence that is walking with us.

Wayne’s Response:

I love this.  Evidently, she’s doing better, if she wants to try to get up.  I wish at times like this we knew what God was doing, but we almost never do. Abiding in his love and living in the uncertainty of the present is how so much of my journey has gone. This is the best place, regardless of what happens, to be “in the Spirit”. If Father brings healing your joy will be overwhelming. If she lingers awhile in the twilight of her cancer, you’ll have words to say and love to share, and if (and I pray not), this is her home going, then you’ll have the bittersweet days of watching your love be stronger than the tragedy that has beset you.

I am thankful as well for each day you have. I, too, am praying for the miracle of miracles that heals her body and gives you years and years together. And I am so grateful that Father has led you to this point in the midst of it all.

From Alan on May 11, 2019 (15 days after the first email):

Wayne, as always, thank you. Perhaps I spoke too soon about not being freaked out. I am so sad to think of her not being here. Even though she is bed-bound now, at least she is still here. We can still hold hands and talk to each other even though it’s hard for her. Of course, I hate that she has been stuck in that bed for weeks, but selfishly there is a peace in knowing she will be there to smile at me and say “Good morning.”

I have been weeping more and more because my love for her is pleading please get better, please don’t go! But, Heaven is silent, no miracles on the horizon that I can see. The emptiness and gloom that I see in my life without her are too much to consider. Everywhere I turn in this house I see something to do with her, some touch she added to make it our home. Maybe I am too emotional, but this is just so hard.

Wayne’s Response:

I know that it is, Alan. Someone once told me the reason we have so much fear and anxiety in our imagined futures (life without Lynn), is that we cannot imagine grace. Therefore, we are always in our future alone, having to survive by our own skills and we just can’t see a way through it. But when we actually get there, God is there too, with resources we can’t contemplate until we’re there.

I am confident he will be with you each day, in this crisis and through it. Heaven is not silent; it only seems so to you.

I don’t know how many years you’ve had with Lynn, but I have watched many people go through this. They do survive, and even thrive in a future God still has for them. You can’t imagine it now; I get that. But you will go on and all the memories and experiences you have had with her will live on in you too. Grief takes the sting of the memories we have about someone we love and turns them into the joy of having known and experienced them. You’re not there yet, so I don’t think you need to rush it. Just know you won’t be alone, not for one day, not for one second.

Right now, you’re loving her in the uncertainty of whether this is her time or not.  That is the most difficult place I know of, and though you are not sufficient to that task, he is. And I do trust him in all that’s unfolding both for you and Lynn. You don’t control the outcome here. She doesn’t either. It just means you have to put everything on his lap every day and roll with whatever comes—joy or pain.  I’m so sorry, brother. I wish I could save you from this.

Though I don’t think God is causing any of this, he will cause it to work for good. It’s what he does—triumph out of tragedy.

From Alan on May 17, 2019 (21 days after his first email):

Every night as I tuck her into the hospice bed, we bump fists and say, “Another day!” Lately I have had to help her make a fist, but that is ok. She even instigates it if I should forget.

I have wept more in the past couple of days than I wanted to. Your words have so strengthened me and I thought I was making great progress in being “ready.” I have a ways to go.

Yesterday was the worst day in the recent nightmare and probably in four years. She woke up with her big brown eyes shining at me and we talked some and I helped her exercise her legs in the bed. The CNA comes on Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday to give her a bath (in the bed) and I was getting her stuff together for that as I always do. Out of the blue, Lynn began to I guess hallucinate or become paranoid – she started telling me to “make sure the cameras are off.” I tried to reassure her but it only got worse. Eventually, she was so agitated that she was crying out, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die. Take me to the hospital.” I called the hospice folks and they said to go ahead and give her some of the medication they have provided for pain and agitation. I did and eventually she settled and fell asleep.

Hospice wants me to keep her medicated “around the clock.” It’s driving me crazy not to be able to talk to her at all. I mean I can talk but to not have her respond even with a fist bump is creating a new level of sorrow. It’s like a new vein of tears has been tapped.

I am still praying for her to be miraculously healed. But, Wayne, for the first time I asked God to take her as opposed to letting her suffer like that. I really do not want Him to take her, I want Him to heal her and be like Jesus to Mary and Martha – “Did I not say if you believe you will see the glory of God?” I’ve felt like the Holy Spirit at one time was prompting me to think about what we would do with a miraculously healed Lynn. I prayed, “Lord, help us to handle your glory the way you want us to, to give you the glory in the way that pleases you.”

She is sleeping soundly and has been for over 24 hours. I will help her make a fist in a little while and say, “Guess what? Another day!” I can barely see the screen to type this so I will stop. I love Lynn so much.

From Wayne

I’m not sure why you worry about how many tears you cry. Tears are not a sign of defeat or lack of faith. The sorrow you feel is directly tied to the depth of love you two have shared. Cry all you want. Embrace God in the tears. He understands your pain better than you do. He often, “with loud cries and tears” offered himself to God.

As I’ve said previous, this is the worst of all times with someone we love, when they linger in the throes of death. Once they pass, we are freer to grieve to healing. Now we’re just caught in the ongoing nightmare as you call it.  It’s hard. I’ve been there, not with Sara thankfully, but with others I love. Would that they get healed, or pass on quicker, but her lingering has to do with her desire to survive and some work God is yet doing in her heart and soul. Death doesn’t come easily very often, but what a gift to have you in her pocket at this season. She is not alone. She has someone sharing her pain and uncertainty with her.

Somehow, I think we’ll see at the end of all things, what a valuable time this is for you and for her. Pain is not our enemy. Embrace it and the tears, as well as God in them, for he is surely there and someday you’ll see this all as a gift that’s so hard to see now.

And trust the hospice people about medication. They have been through this a hundred times or more. I know you want to keep her ‘aware’, but that serves you more than her. I don’t write that easily. I know those are hard words, but the fears and pain that overwhelm her aren’t worth it for either of you.

Loving in the chaos of this fallen world is not easy. My heart breaks that this has gone on so long for you, but you or your prayers are not the determining factors here. Would that they were. There are just greater realities here than either of us can fathom. We don’t control events; we just do our part and entrust the rest to our loving Father.

You’re in our prayers, Alan.  I only have words of honor for you and what you’re going through and how you’re responding. I can’t imagine God saying anything at the moment than, “That’s Alan, my beloved son and in whom I’m well pleased with how he’s loving my Lynn.”

To be continued…

Read Part 5 here. 

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4 Comments
  1. […] Read Part 4 here.  […]

  2. Roger Smith August 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Wayne you may know this better than I do, but the outburst he describes seems to indicate that cancer may have spread to her brain. Hospice workers will advise family that it may be best to remember your loved one as they were some days prior to their passing. Wen the cancer spreads to the brain, personality changes occur. This can affect their behavior in their final hours.

  3. Ralaine Fagone August 11, 2019 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Pain seems consistent in the emotions that surface no matter what situation brought it. Death of a loved one or death of a dream, it hurts. Still, our Father brings His mighty peace. I love that Alan was given Wayne to be a guiding voice of comfort.

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