January 26, 2015
Dear friends and family,
Today we are burying my beloved husband,my best friend, the father of my children, a dear son and brother and our brother in Christ. God had given us 35 years of truly blissful, happy years of marriage together . We often said to each other, “God is so good to us, we are so blessed and happy; 3 amazing children who all married in the Lord, a job that he joyfully went to every morning, good health for both of us, financial stability, a nice home, car etc. We knew that we did not deserve these blessings and thanked God often for his graciousness to us.
But, as so often happens when life is smooth sailing, my spiritual life began to wane and I became luke warm, personal devotions started slipping, I said my prayers but didn’t really pray. I would often think about the text, “whom the Lord loves, he chastens” and thought, “Is that what it’s going to take Lane?” “why cant you be on fire for the Lord and have a close relationship with him when He is so good for you? “Could it be that the Lord doesn’t love me then?”
But, praise be to God, He did love me, He wanted me to come back to Him, to have a closer relationship with Him, to walk daily in dependence upon Him, so, in His love, four years ago, He set us before our Jordan river, ALS. Those first few days and weeks of getting the diagnosis of this dreadful disease were so shocking and so difficult. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when we were at our trailer with our son and his family, that the full implications of what we were losing, sunk in and the flood gates burst forth as we clung to each other and sobbed and wailed out our grief and sadness.
We knew where we had to go with our brokenness, who it was who alone could carry us through this difficult Jordan river crossing that lay ahead of us. And that was when God began to draw us closer to Himself.
The first year, the deterioration went very quickly, first losing fine motor skills, then his walking was halting and awkward, then his speech began to slur and Jack told us that he wouldn’t see Christmas. We all hesitantly thought he might be right. But our ways are not God’s ways and He had something else planned; Jack wasn’t going to get away that easy! The real pruning and cutting was just beginning.
I was the devoted, loving wife through that first year, patiently and kindly cutting his meat for him, holding his arm while he walked, doing up his buttons, putting on his shoes and tying his tie. But that was in the beginning when it was still easy to be patient and kind and we could still talk and laugh together.
Christmas came and went and the deterioration continued until he had lost everything, until all he could do was blink and smile.
Ah, yes, that smile that lit up his whole face. I still can’t figure that one out because ALS affects only the voluntary muscles and smiling definitely uses voluntary muscles. I think that was God’s gift to us and any visitors that came to see him. Everyone commented on that smile, which I suppose, was a witness in itself; to be able to smile still under such circumstances could only be because he had a secret; a secret which he had already told everyone! He never was good at keeping secrets!
The last 2-3 years were definitely the most difficult for both of us. The loss of all his functions was not easy but the greatest loss of all, which proved to be the most challenging, frustrating and sad was the loss of his speech. If there’s one thing Jack excelled at, it was communicating. He was an open book who loved to talk with people. He would strike up a conversation with total strangers at the coffee shop, the gas station, in line at Costco, anywhere! And before you knew it he’d know their whole life story. When we had visitors over, I was always happy to just listen and let Jack do all the talking, (especially when we had house visitation) . Now things were different, the Lord closed Jacks lips permanently and I had to come out of my comfort zone and do all of the talking.
The most trials we both had were due to the frustration of losing this communication. A husband and wifes relationship needs communication to fluorish; it is the most important thing in a marriage. when you share things together it draws you closer to each other and as we lost that, our relationship began to change as well. I was doing all the giving and he could give nothing in return which must have been the most frustrating part of all for him because he was a very giving man; always serving me and helping around the house, giving me the biggest piece of dessert, always trying to make my life special, spoiling me. And now he was locked in his body with only his thoughts. He could slowly spell out his immediate need in one or two words but I never really knew how he was feeling, what was going on inside, which I so desperately wanted him to share with me. Now it was my turn to give to him.
And what a self revelation it has turned out to be. I found out who and what I was in my own strength. I was definitely not patting myself on the back anymore. I prayed every morning for much needed patience above all, for kindness, for love and for the physical strength needed but every day I failed miserably . Yet God continued to love me and uphold me and strengthen me. I saw more clearly the true meaning of Grace; Gods goodness and mercy shown to totally undeserving sinners.
In Philippians 4:13 Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and I must say that I could only endure these last 4 years because Christ did strengthen me. Paul continues in verse 14, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble”. That is something that I want to echo now. The load was made bearable because it was shared by so many. We experienced what it means to belong to the body of Christ. Words cannot adequately express our appreciation and thankfulness for your outpouring of love to us in these last 4 years. Your cards and comments on the blog meant so much to us, the baked goods and meals were such a help. The faithfully regular visits were the highlight of my week. You helped with relief care, with physio therapy, with mouth care. You took me out for a coffee, or out to lunch so that I could have a break from it all. Thank you for loving and supporting our children with meals and cards and child care. You did the yard work and snow shovelling which freed me up to spend more time caring for Jack. You came and sang and played instruments for us, uplifting our spirits. All these seemingly little things to you were very big to us. I want to thank the pastors and elders who gave us spiritual comfort, read Scripture and prayed with us regularly, at a time when we don’t have our own pastor.
Thank you all for your many prayers . It is so humbling to think of the hundreds of people who have been praying for us for so long already. Your prayers were answered, God sustained us through our Jordan river crossing on dry ground and we give him all the praise and glory.
Thank you all for coming today and sharing in our bittersweet grief.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Posted by SJB at 9:51 PM