Saturday, July 21, 2012

For Ron. For Marilyn.

I knew Margaret well.  She was one of my great prayer warriors these last 4 years.  Even as her own cancer & accompanying treatments grew worse & kept recurring, she would smile, hug Lisa & me, and ask how I was doing. Then she would tell me she was praying for me.

Margaret's faith became sight earlier this week.  She leaves behind her beloved Ron, in addition to a daughter & son-in-law.  Margaret & Ron were married 39 years.

To me, Margaret models Paul's last words: "the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV) Well run, my friend. See you soon. You'll be missed by many of us until that day. I pray we all finish as well as you did.

I don't know that I ever met Chip.  But I've known Marilyn since high school.  She & I played saxophones in the high school band.  Marilyn is a gentle, calm, sweet woman of great faith.  Even when her beloved Chip's cancer situation kept progressing.  Chip & Marilyn were married 24 years; 10 of those years were spent battling Chip's terminal cancer (that was known to be terminal early on.)  Like Margaret, Marilyn would always quickly move past her own cancer situation (Chip's), and go to encouraging me.  "How are you, Mike?"  "I'm praying for you."

Chip's faith became sight this week too.  Left here are his beloved Marilyn, a son, and a daughter.  Marilyn even took the time to let me know of Chip's passing just a few hours after it happened.  To me, Marilyn models Job:  "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. "  (Job 1:20-21 ESV)

Chip's obituary contains these words: "Although diagnosed with a terminal disease at the young age of 49, Chip accepted his fate with grace and focused on the positive moments of each day given to him. He fought a courageous battle with cancer never giving up hope and always living a life of example for those around him. He showed his children daily how to live with adversity as he focused on the lives of others rather than himself. "

If you're waiting for the magic words, you won't find them in this space.  Cancer fatalities just suck.  (forgive me, but they do)  I don't grieve for Margaret & Chip; they're infinitely better off now than they have been in years.  My heart aches with grief for Ron & for Marilyn & for their respective families.  Profound theologizing rings hollow just now.

John Piper said something to the effect that there are some emotions so profound that they can only be captured with poetry.  Below are some words a guy wrote right after one of his close friends died of cancer, leaving behind a husband and young children.  I think he captured a couple of key themes.  First, the helpless despair that families & friends feel when their loved one departs this world.  And second, the hope that sustains even in the midst of the seemingly impenetrable darkness of death.

I love the phrase "Ultimate Healing" and adopted it into my own regular usage when I first heard this song years ago.

Chip & Margaret have both experienced the "Ultimate Healing."  Cancer no longer has any hold on them.  Margaret's obituary contained these words:  "She closed her eyes on July 17, 2012 and in the same instant opened them in heaven and saw her Lord and Savior."  Exactly.  Ron & Marilyn and their families are left behind, grieving with a grief that would crush them apart from the grace of God.  And yet, in the midst of that grief, they're modeling for the rest of us what faith looks like.

Have a read and a listen, and then pray for a grieving husband and for a grieving wife, won't you?


Home Free
Wayne Watson

I'm trying hard not to think you unkind.
But Heavenly Father, if you know my heart,
Surely you can read my mind.
Good people underneath the sea of grief
Some get up and walk away; Some will find ultimate relief

Home Free eventually
At the ultimate healing we will be Home Free
Home Free Oh I gotta feeling
At the ultimate healing
We will be Home Free

Out in the corridors we prayed for life
A mother for her baby, A husband for his wife
Sometimes the good die young, it's sad but true
Though we pray for one more heartbeat
The real comfort is with you.

They say pain has little mercy
And suffering's no respector of age or religion
I know every prayer gets answered
But the hardest one to pray is slow to come
Oh Lord, not mine, but Thy will be done
Let it be...

Here's a video clip of the song.  (Don't worry about watching; nothing to see except the album cover.  Just listen.  4:30)

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