Monday, July 12, 2010

2 years.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

Although the death of beloved saints is often most-decidedly NOT precious in our sight...

I'm not a poet. But I definitely agree w/ John Piper who said (paraphrase) "there are some emotions so deep in the soul that they can only be captured with poetry." As best I can recall, what is re-posted below is one of two poems I've ever written. (The other one was a couple of years back when another friend died; in an ironic coincidence, my two friends are buried right near each other, just a few steps apart). If you've been reading this blog for over year, you've seen this before. Started it two years ago from a room at M.D. Anderson's ICU (where I was "enjoying" my first cycle of immunotherapy) when I heard that the time of Jason Weathers' departure was at hand; finished it the next day--July 12--when I heard his faith had become sight.

Jason's wife Stephanie had her Dad read this at Jason's funeral. I will likely never receive a higher honor this side of glory. (We did make it back for his funeral, btw) As I looked at Jason's lifeless body @ the funeral, I was struck with a couple of thoughts. First, the needed reminder that in the words of a friend, we're all living in rented apartment space that's steadily wearing out such that one day, we will be leaving our temporary living quarters. Second, "death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory" and "He is not here, but he is risen..." It is that second one that I have seen on display in the amazing faith of Jason's beloved Stephanie these last couple of years. She has been such a wonderful encourager to Lisa & me in our own cancer journey. And to so very many others as well. Just yesterday, we were laughing about how some of Jason's musical tastes overlap with my own, but most assuredly NOT with Stephanie's...

Two years after his homegoing, I agree all the more with these sentiments captured when I heard of Jason's passing. And I still miss him hard! Next to me right now is the collection of CDs Jason had in his car. In another great honor, Steph has allowed me to roam through the collection. I've spent yesterday and early this morning smiling, chuckling, and remembering my buddy through the widely-varied music he loved. And treasuring many a conversation that started out "Mike, have you ever listened to ______? I think you'd like them...Stephanie does NOT like them at all..." *grin* And yet, as I've been looking through his music, there are multiple CDs that I picture him reaching for when Steph rode with him somewhere. I 'spect they were in his collection for that very purpose. Yesterday at church as I was in the booth being the powerpoint guy, I was reminded once again that I starting doing that as a way to hang out w/ Jason; thus, I think of him every Sunday morning when I take my seat behind the computer.

Don't read this for the literary value of the poem, for you'll surely be disappointed. Rather, read for the depth of the emotions I'm trying to capture. This comes close, but doesn't fully capture what I felt this time two years ago. And last year at this time...and this year at this time...

As was the case two years ago, I do not focus on how he died. I choose to focus instead on how he lived.

Please pray today for Jason's beloved Stephanie and for his treasured children Anna Lea, Jon Brent, and Ally.

Mike Madaris, 7/12/08, on the coronation of my buddy Jason Weathers

Giants still walk the land occasionally.
I know this, because I knew one.
Physically strong and imposing
But that’s not the topic here,
For, he was not fearsome
Unless you lined up opposite him
On a football field
Or tried to throw him into a pool against his will.
Those aside, He got along with everybody.
Literally, everybody, as far as I knew.
Calm of demeanor, yet loved to laugh.
Quiet in personality, yet loved hard rock.
Intelligent, but not desiring to flaunt that.
Private, yet the son of a very public man
And later, married into another very public family.
In the midst of all, he was a giant.

The courtship. She was the only one.
They met when her Dad took a job at the giant’s church.
And his Dad’s. And his Granddad’s.
The realizing came quickly to most.
These two were a match.
They realized it too.
The courtship lasted until they finished college.
And he remained a giant.
Always loving, yet always honoring.
Serving. Cherishing. As it was intended to be.
Both of them Role models. Giants.
Who else marries a giant, but another giant after all?

10 years of marriage. A move to FL.
3 children deeply treasured.
One looks like her mother, yet like Dad in temperament.
One looks like his Dad, yet tempered like his mother.
And one too young to answer these questions
Though she surely looks like her Dad.
Each nurtured. Treasured. Celebrated.
Giants are like that about their offspring.

A servant’s heart.
Toward his lady. Toward his children.
Toward his friends. Toward his Lord.
Church service involved the out of the way
The behind the scenes
The un-glamorous
The invisible.
Sometimes giants stay in the background.
Perhaps that is why so few of us believe in them any more.

The servant heart spilled over into career choice.
Especially poignant to me this week
As I have been greatly served and blessed by multiple nurses
As a patient, the best in that field are wired as servants.
Others-centered. Paycheck almost incidental.
Towering over the rest of us.

The dreadful disease with the nasty prognosis
The treatment nearly as nasty
Uncertainty. Doubt. Fear.
In this case, for others more than self
Beloved wife and treasured children.
Parents. Parents-in-law. Brother. Brother-in-law.
Not wanting to burden others with the battle he fought so well.
The larger men among us worry about us like that.

7 months of desperate fighting.
Interspersed with time spent with family and with lesser mortals.
Like me. At Starbucks. Still dreaming of an earthly future that would never be.
Then the end; rather, the beginning.
What, after all, is a last, horrendous week against 30+ years of a towering-above life?
Faith became sight.
Death & disease forever vanquished.
Ultimate Healing. No more illness, no more treatment, no more pain.
“Well Done, good and faithful servant.” The stuff of dreams.
Thankfully, not of legends.
Hopes and dreams realized.
Sin not only defeated, but now utterly removed.
As has been sung, "I can only imagine." He need not imagine any more.
This makes me smile through tears.
Victory won. Decisively. Forever.
It is well…it is well with his soul.
In that land, there are only giants. Now one more.
And this land seems all the more empty.

Rock on, Jason. See you there in the land of the eternal hello, where leukemia & melanoma are seen only through the eyes of grace-filled providence...and only then understood fully. You are still loved much and missed hard by many of us, Bro. Looking forward to that next cup of coffee & to you showing me around!

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