Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Going Home

For months, I've joined thousands of others who have been following the story of Joey Feek's battle with cancer through her husband Rory's blog (This Life I Live). Just a few days ago, Rory shared a post which clearly indicates that, despite the many prayers that have been offered by family, friends, and countless fans, Joey is not going to experience physical healing and is, most likely, not going to live much longer.

In that blog entry, Rory shares that his beloved wife has in recent days told Jesus she's ready to go "home". When I read that, my heart dropped, and I was taken back 6 years, 4months, and 2 days ago, to the living room of the home my husband built. Where just 6 weeks before, my then presumably-perfectly healthy husband and I had talked of buying cattle and other dreams for the future. Now, instead of dreams for a lengthy future, my son and daughter, a hospice nurse, and I surrounded my husband's hospital bed, dreading what was soon to come.

My husband, who had dozed much of the night while our children and I kept watch, talking to him and reassuring him of our love when he would wake briefly, woke again about 7:00 a.m. and, without opening his eyes, said, "I want to go home."

Unsure as to his clarity of mind (he was on morphine drops) and thinking he might be confused as to where he was, I responded, "Home to our house or," I almost couldn't get the words past the lump in my throat, "home to Heaven?" I heard both of my children gasp slightly. Steve answered very matter of factly, "Home to Jesus."

The tiny part of my heart that hadn't yet broken, shattered.

He left us less than 30 minutes later.

I'll draw a curtain there; the rest of the morning and the next few days were beyond difficult.

Over the next 10 or so months, every time my mind wasn't actively focused on my job or some other task, it was filled with an endless loop of memories of the 6 weeks and 1 day of my husband's illness. Scene after scene ran through my head.

But there was one memory that, when it began to appear, I resolutely shut down. Yes, it was the moment when my husband quietly said he wanted to go home. Like a child flirts with the idea of touching their tongue to the gaping hole where a tooth recently was, I began to inch closer to remembering that moment, always jerking back at the last second.

And then, one day, I finally let that scene play itself out in my mind.

Of course, I cried. But with the tears came something very important. Words and sentiment that had been part of my entire life came to mind.

"I'm but a stranger here; Heav'n is my home," which I'd sung countless times ("I'm but a               Stranger Here" from The Lutheran Hymnal).

"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).

These words, which (if truth be told) had been little more to me than platitudes throughout my life, became amazingly, startlingly real.

I'm not going to lie to you. I still grieved, and I still missed my husband. But at the same time, the sense of controlled panic I'd felt much of the time since his passing was gone.

In its place was a sense of calm, of peace. Steve was home. Not just figuratively, not just theoretically.

Really, truly Home. With his Family, Who love him beyond my wildest imagining. Free of pain and stress and toil.

And so, a few days ago, when I read Rory's post about his wife's imminent passing, my heart did drop for just a few seconds.

But then, I remembered that she will be going Home.

Yes, there will be grief. But let there also be great joy.

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I realize that the thought of finding joy after a person's death may seem repugnant to some people; it certainly would have been to me just 5 or 6 years ago.  Please feel free to share your thoughts via a comment or by email (pattimiinch@yahoo.com); of course, all views are welcome, but I ask that they be shared in a respectful manner. Thanks so much!

 

2 comments:

  1. Not repugnant at all. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and he struggled with it for several years. He fought to stay mobile, he fought to keep walking, keep moving. And then he broke a hip, and that was the beginning of the end. Before he passed, he was stuck in a hospital bed, unable to talk, unable to move, unable to lift a hand to signal a need. My father was always larger than life to me - farming, hunting, doing something outdoors, never still. I knew this existence stuck in a bed wasn't what he'd have chosen for himself were the choice his to make. And so yes, I grieved when he died, but there was also relief, and yes, joy, knowing he was Home with Jesus, free from pain, free from suffering, joyous beyond anything I can imagine. Do I miss him? Absolutely. But it tore me up seeing him suffer. I'm thankful to have the peace that comes from knowing he's with his Savior.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart.

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  2. Oh Patti, what a wonderful post! Do not be discouraged if some people don't understand... it is to be expected and the verse below explains why.

    "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." 1 Cor 2:14

    To be honest with you, my heart often longs for home and I am not depressed our unhappy. My soul just longs for my Father. My whole being longs for life as it was meant to be. I will enjoy my time on earth and make the most of it but something inside of me is eager for heaven :)

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