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notable quotable

The years teach much which the days never knew.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Our lingering conversations…

teacuppamela.pngSo… we seem to have a lingering conversation around here. When my husband comes in the room or we end up standing around in our kitchen… it’s as if we just continue this ongoing conversation… a conversation that sort of lingers in our minds day after day — now, week after week.A neon green appointment card is attached to a sheet of paper that hangs on the clip by the back door. That clip has always been there and holds whatever needs to go out to the mail box or it occasionally holds a check for a delivery or, now, it holds appointment cards. For the c-a-r-d-i-o-l-o-g-i-s-t. I know, I know… soon this will be ‘old hat’ and we’ll move on. This, as do most other ‘big deals’ in our family, will soon be as ‘normal’ to us as other things that are part of normal, everyday living. But for now, all this cardiology stuff is not normal, everyday living to us. Actually, I think I subconsciously believe that pretty soon all this will be over and things will go back to the way they were (whatever that was!).

Isn’t it interesting that we think we’re strong in the Lord – that we trust Him implicitly, that we leave everything in God’s capable hands and yet… well, and yet we don’t, do we? We intend to be faithful: honouring God in all we think, say, and do and yet, when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would, we falter.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been thinking of the way I always thought things would be… the way I thought things would end up. And things aren’t or haven’t quite turned out that way.

Eight years ago today was my father’s funeral service. I would have thought I’d have my father a long, long time. I thought things would have ended differently than they did. But they didn’t. I remember standing there at his service… I was giving a message that I hoped would both honour him and honour the Lord. I spoke of his life, his death and eternal life in heaven. No doubt there were people present who knew the gospel message but had never trusted Jesus as Lord. No doubt there were people there that day who still do not trust Jesus as Lord. God knows. I just knew I had a small window of opportunity to share the gospel, to share of God’s love and eternal purpose for man and to succinctly present the gospel message: the gift of salvation and eternal life in Jesus.

That salvation is all the more precious to me as the years pass… especially years in which things turned out differently than I thought they would.

Our lingering conversations… what would you want me to do with ____________ ?

Three weeks ago, when my husband had a heart attack, it was such a surprising thing — surreal, almost. I thought it was such an odd thing that had occurred — like something in a movie, like something in older relatives’ lives, not something in my life — not something in my husband’s life. Something for older women… not for me. I never would have thought that this is the way things would turn out. I guess I actually thought my husband was invincible and that he would live on much longer than I will. And that may well still be the case… but somehow, now, I think not.

So, when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would, what do we do then?

You know what I’ve been thinking? Praise God. Praise God that He does not tell us in advance the things we have in our future. Praise His marvelous name that we do not know, in advance, the way He has planned for us. Would we love Him? Would we trust Him? Would we praise Him?

What do we do when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would? Well… I’ve been mulling this thought over and over. This is a lonely time. And now I see this sort of thing’s been lonely for several of my friends at other points in their lives. And I missed it. I overlooked their plight. It’s not a Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” sort of time, but rather, it’s a lonely time – a no one knows/cares/understands what I’m going through sort of time. It’s a very personal sort of time; an “Omygoodness, my husband could have died and life as I knew it could have been over” sort of time. And only other women who’ve experienced the same thing can understand. And it’s a: wow, is life so over when it’s over –or– wow, is life so different when it’s different, sort of thing!!

So we have this lingering conversation. Wes walks into the room and another sentence is spoken. “By the way, _____________.

I come home and I say, I’ve been thinking…. if… well, if things go that way, then what should I do about ________________?

Day after day, sentences begin – with no introduction.

“Okay, so if _________, then what I will do is____________ and I will not________ and I will call_______ . Okay. No, I don’t want to get married to anyone else. No. I don’t want to think about___________ . Yes…. I will do that. Yes… I know, I will wait to do that. No, I don’t want to sleep with anyone else. Let’s forget all this happened. No, I will not change my mind.

A day passes… the conversation lingers.

“I have been with you longer than my whole adult life… and everything that’s happened to me has happened with you. I do not want to be alone to face the remainder of whatever’s going to happen to me and the children. And the conversation lingers…

He stands at the sink. “Her father had his first heart attack when she was six… the conversation lingers.

He stands at the cabinet. One bottle lid pops off, then another and another and so on until all the meds are in hand. Wow. What a difference a day makes. Into my once very ordered, very secure, very sure world… has come amber bottles with foreign names and expiration dates and warnings… Strange, what a difference a day makes.

The lingering conversations. Day after day.

“I want the older boys to know I’m proud of them.

The conversation lingers.

“I’ll always love you.

O, for heaven.

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  • Dana —

    Thank you for writing – Yes! Life is as fragile as it is strong. And yes, times like these really shake us up and wake us up to the truth or to value what we’ve got. You know one of the lines in that old song… “…you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Well, that’s what I think a ‘health wake-up call’ or a death or a loss or a disappointment or whatever – is. So, yep – love your husband, love your daughter today.

    love and blessings, pamela

  • Dear Anonymous
    Thank you for your encouraging notes.

    I have been thinking about what you wrote about thing 1, thing 2 and so on. I’ve been thinking about how the initial days were difficult and uncertain and how, now, things are brighter — not so much bcz Wes is so much better or even improved, but bcz I had to get back to seeing that God is still God and He is still the blessed controller of every one of my moments, Wes’s moments and *everything* else.

    I also am seeing what you’re seeing… it was time to end that lingering conversation and just LIVE. Live today and love today and have faith today —- today —- and trust God for just this and not fear or fret over things that are not mine anyway. It’s not mine to know the future or how things will play out or what trials I might or might not face or whatever. Mine is to trust in the loving LORD, to wait on Him, to believe Him and to walk with Him.

    I’m thankful for every day.

    Thank you for writing and I wish to say, your incredible story is very encouraging as you walk in faith and trust in the Lord.
    Thank you for the gift you’ve given in wise words.

    with love, pamela

  • Thank you for sharing this story with us. I don’t know what to say. I’m sure I have no idea what you’re going through as this has never happened in my life. But, thank you for reminding us how fragile life can be. Thanks for helping me to treasure my husband and daughter more and take time to enjoy today. I’ll be saying a prayer for your whole family!

  • Anon.

    For his entire life, my husband has had a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. You may know it by its more common name: brittle bone disease. He has broken nearly every bone in his body at least once. In his life, he has experienced over 100 major breaks – both his arms, both his legs, his pelvis etc.

    He’s had horrendous, almost barbaric surgeries designed to keep his legs from bowing.

    He is one of the finest men to have ever lived, in my totally unbiased opinion – intelligent, competent, and funny. But I have never thought him invincible.

    I’m visually impaired. He does the driving. I do the lifting. Our division of labor was never based upon the standard others followed, but upon brute necessity. Without him, I would literally be incomplete. Without me, he says, the same would be true for him.

    We’ve both learned important things through our marriage. Some of these are as follows:

    Thing One: Bad things happen. There’s no rhyme or reason to them and no real way to predict them most of the time. Your day could be going smooth as silk, then – BAM! – a giant kidney stone drops seemingly out of nowhere, or a muscle in the eye tears free from its mooring.

    Thing Two: Don’t beat yourself up over it.

    Some people can abuse their own bodies – and I mean really abuse them – even into their 70s and 80s without many ill effects. Others can be laid low in half the time, no matter how careful they are. Good habits are important, certainly, but disposition can be an even bigger factor in whether or not someone develops health problems.

    In other words, it wasn’t your fault.

    Of course you can look back now and see the ways you might have done things differently, but everyone feels that way after a life-altering experience. Absolutely everyone wonders how things might have changed had they but left their homes two minutes earlier, or had they not gone swimming that day, or had they not eaten that bit of (really, really) bad chicken.

    You said it yourself: for most people, a heart attack is the first (and perhaps only) sign they ever get that something is wrong.

    Thing Three: Now that you know about this problem, you can exercise a certain amount of control over it and minimize the potential for future harm. This is no guarantee, however, that things won’t go sour regardless of your best efforts.

    It’s important to plan for the worst, I suppose, but don’t let it dominate your thinking. Set aside a specific time in which to discuss legal and financial matters.

    End that lingering conversation, which intrudes upon time best spent on other matters. Spend that time instead on special activities – meaningful or/and fun things.

    Wes walks into the room and you say, “Hon, want to play some crib?”

    Thing Four: He’s as scared as you are – perhaps more so: His fear of death is compounded by his fear for your future. Before his recovery can really begin, he has to know that you’ll be all right – that he hasn’t failed you just because his body failed him.

    Easier said than done, I know, but fake the certainty if you must: you’ll be okay if something happens to him….you’ll be okay if something happens to him…you’ll be okay if something happens to him.

    Thing Five: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is a total waste of time.

    Whenever I consider the future, I see both my husband and me in it. And I hope – because we, too, have had had ‘those’ conversations. “No, I don’t want to marry anyone else. I’d be like your grandma is, I think. No, I don’t want to sleep with anyone else. Yes, I know half our kids could be born with OI – yes, including the lethal form of it. Yes, I know the miscarriage might have been for the best.”

    A few days ago, I turned 28. Uncertain as things are sometimes, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. My husband and I have a lot of fun – more than most people, I’d wager. Maybe it’s because we know, more than most people, just how fleeting this life can be.

    And now you know, too.

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Thank you for joining me here today, may the Lord bless you and your home.