This date 11 years ago was Eric’s last day on earth. It was obviously not an easy day since we were dealing with the ravages of cancer, but at least he woke up. He said, “Good morning. I love you.” for the very last time. Less than 24 hours later he was healed, happy, dancing on streets of gold and being greeted by people he loved who had made that journey before him. And he no doubt received a ‘welcome home’ from Jesus!
As I look back over the years since I last heard him pray or laugh or preach, several thoughts pop to my mind quickly. The first one is that I am blessed. Oh, so blessed. The ache, the tears, the sadness and the hardships cannot overshadow that truth. God’s faithfulness and patience seem to know no bounds-for which I’m grateful! I have made so many mistakes these last 11 years. I’ve done things wrong, messed things up, jumped too soon or hesitated too long. I’ve said the wrong things, neglected to say the right ones and spent my time unwisely. Yet God has lovingly helped me pick up the pieces and redirect my thoughts and my steps each time. I’m still accepted and loved. That has made this season of life bearable and most importantly, it’s even made it enjoyable.
Yes, I said enjoyable. Eleven years ago I wasn’t sure my heart would ever feel joy again, but it does. I didn’t know if there would ever be a good ‘belly laugh’ or genuine peace in my thoughts but there has been. Life did not stop, although it felt like it would, and happiness did return. That’s not to say I don’t have sad moments or times when I desperately wish I could have a long conversation with Eric (and maybe get a kiss or two!) There are moments when things seem hollow and the fact that part of me is missing screams loudly in my heart but those times are now fewer and the joyful ones more abundant.
Then there are the people. My people. What would I have become without my people? The people who let me cry, who send cards, who push me forward, who trust me to lead. The ones that hug me at church, treat me special at the coffee shop, greet me like I’m important, compliment me, challenge me, encourage me and make me laugh. What would I do without those people? My heart has healed because of your love and prayers. I’m beyond grateful.
My children have walked through their loss and my respect and love for them has only grown. They are wonderful human beings and I couldn’t be more excited to have a front row seat in their life. Kids-those I birthed and those they have married (and those they have birthed!)-I love you deeply and am grateful you have loved me well. My parents, my siblings and their families; I’m sorry for everyone else because you all got cheated-mine are the best! Saying goodbye to Eric, mom and Carol has been hard but we’ve done it together and that’s made it easier. Spending time with you is high on my list of good times.
So, the thing I’d like you to remember most from these ramblings of mine is IT’S THE PEOPLE. That’s what’s most important. That’s where you need to expend your energy. That’s what needs to be the underlying factor in your decisions, your plans and your purpose. Goodness, Jesus left heaven to come to earth for all people, certainly your people should be equally as important to you! And once we have our own people in the proper place of importance, let’s not forget those we don’t know. The ones with whom we can share a casual smile, a kind word, some type of a hand-up. The world is a big place and you have a lot to offer, probably more than you realize. Invest in people.
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Handsome, That’s one more year accomplished! I’m no longer upset that you reached your goal and got your prize so much earlier than I wanted. But I sure do miss you.