Friday, June 6, 2008

Praising God in the Midst of Grief

It is so hard to praise God when you're grieving.

Today was my Uncle Keith's biopsy. I may not have all the details straight -- but this is what I've gleaned.

The tumor is inoperable. It is fast-growing. He won't be able to begin any treatments for at least two weeks -- until he heals from the biopsy. His time here on Earth could be weeks. Maybe a year.

The pain I feel for Keith, Carol, Sid, Jason, Clay, the grandkids... it's palpable.

But in the midst of this, I know that I have GOT to stick to the one thing that has been my glue for the last year. My faith. And I know that I have got to praise our creator, because only in His infinite wisdom can He make sense of this.

And I can praise Him.

I can praise him that Mom didn't know any of the confusion that Uncle Keith has known. I can praise Him for the fact that right up until the end, if she was at all alert, she knew who we were.

I can praise Him for the wisdom of Carla Sandusky, who reinforced my sense that Abbie & Kait didn't need to see Granny after she landed in ICU. That their last memories of her needed to be of the happy Granny. That even though at MD Anderson she was surrounded by machines and such, she was sitting up in bed, Kaitlyn was crawling all over her, and they were filling her in on everything they had been doing in their new house. That is the memory they needed to have.

For Biggs, who told me to Go. Stay as long as you need to. Get a hotel room. Don't worry about what it costs. Make sure Milton gets a room at the good hotel. Don't worry about here. Be with your Mom.

For my cousin Gary, who called from Iraq in the wee hours of the morning to tell "Aunt Sue" he loved her and was praying for her.

For all the love sent via email while Mom was sick -- especially the jokes!

I can praise Him for the kindnesses that still blow me away nearly a year later. For the "Walking Around Money" that made staying in the hospital a little easier on us. For precious Paige, Nelva and Carla, who took Abbie & Kait in, so that I could be with Mom as much as possible. For God's arranging it, so far in advance, that Carla would be in Lubbock for a conference that week when I needed her the most -- and for her taking me to dinner away when I needed it the most.

I praise God for having Suzi Bruin right. here. in. my. neighborhood. For her taking Jake at a moment's notice and walking with me each and every mile. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

For Nelva making sure Abbie rode in the Grand Entry -- something she knew I wouldn't miss for all the world. And for all of Snyder who realized that I was just barely holding it together -- that I had a very limited amount of courage that I could muster -- and that sitting in Max's box at the rodeo was all I could manage -- and for honoring that.

And I praise God for Cindy Nix and Volley Ship meeting me at the concession stand and letting me know their hearts were breaking right alongside mine.

For Donelle wanting to keep the girls, even if Randy got sick and she didn't get to.

For quick flights when I called Biggs and said, "I need you here. NOW."

For the steady stream of family and friends that were in and out of that waiting room. And who, even though there wasn't always a reaction from Mom, took the time to visit her in the ICU. Because they knew she'd be really pissed if they didn't.

For the blessing of M'Lys finding a new job in the midst of all the heartache. For A'Lise calling security to alert them to that BIG WOMAN who was ready to whip my butt. For my waiting room buddies who, even in their own grief, watched out for me and made sure I had a couch to sleep on.

I praise God for sending humor -- and knowing when we needed it most. I praise God for a certain "hottie" nephrologist that could make Mom smile. And that we had family working right there in the hospital.

I praise God for the mounds of food that landed at Mom's and at Nelva's. For the fact that when something happens out there, everyone turns on their stoves and serves up the best love they can. I praise God for Marge Toombs' Chocolate Cake and Dewey Faye Miller's Pecan Tarts and Sandra's brisket and potato salad. And I praise God that I finally lost all the weight I gained in the process.

I praise God for Anthony and Cheryl, who couldn't be there for the funeral, but came in just to spend time with us the day before. For Wes & Stephanie who drove all the way from Plano with three kids to be there for us.

And Man, do I ever praise God for Kayren Babcock, who was in Nashville when she heard the news. And immediately changed her travel plans, booked a ticket to Lubbock and rented a car, dragging that precious boy with her. Kayren knew when I was doing okay. And she knew the exact second I lost it. And she was right there, right then.

I praise God for the hundreds of people who showed up at the funeral home and the funeral itself to say good-bye to my Mom. And for all the family that showed up from far and wide to hold us up. For running into Janice Ingram in the restroom and being so awed that she was there for me. For Penny Beaver -- who I would have known anywhere. For Mrs. Pat -- the "other mother." Patty Hamilton. Keitha Hopson. Gail Gray. Monte, Larry and Tim. All staunch friends, family really, of Mom's who would not have settled for being anywhere else that day.

I praise God that the Lloyds were all together at a family reunion in Ruidoso when Mom passed away, so Aunt Vell and Aunt Gale were able to be there -- when otherwise they might not have been.

I praise God for the guys Mom had chosen as pall bearers -- who were so moved by her request. And for the guys at Bell, Cypert, Seale who loved my Mama and took good care of her.

For Mandi Campbell, who realized postage stamps were as good as gold.

I praise God for all the beautiful flowers and plants people sent -- Mom would have LOVED that. She would gone on and on for weeks about it. And the thousands of dollars donated in her memory to The Breast Cancer 3-Day, Relay for Life, The American Cancer Society, the Fluvanna Cemetary and the Missions Fund.

I praise God for the opportunity to share Mom's story with untold numbers of people across the country through the 3-Day and this blog. For letting me tell them about her courage that was built on faith. And for letting me share how very much I love and miss her.

For Tobi and Sam and Annette, who have been there. And the support only someone with that in common can give you.

Most of all, I praise God for Milton, who was her rock through everything life threw at her the last few years.

So it is possible to praise God in the midst of grief. And I know that down the road Uncle Keith and his family will be able to look back and praise God as well. But in the midst of what their treading through, it's so hard to see that.

Tonight my prayer is that God will bring a flood of blessings to my family -- right there in the hospital in Abilene. A flood of blessings that, no matter what the future holds, they can look back on and see that God sent them as proof of His love and faithfulness -- even in their darkest hours. And that He used the precious details of this experience to show them that love. And that they will be able to praise him for that.


TexPatriate said...


Please tell Keith's family to make all the tapes and recordings that they can of him with his memories. PLEASE encourage him to tell his stories in his voice. It will be a huge comfort to them later when they do not have that voice or they have trouble remembering exactly how that one story went.

I speak from experience -- I can't tell you how many times I wish I could remember the setup story to "mustard, custard, and you ! Run, Shermy, run !"


Anonymous said...

As always you find the beauty and amazing grace and mercy that our God, who is so good, always provides. And even in the midst of the things we may think are the very worst ever, He is constantly giving us His gifts through the hands and hearts of His people and the incredible "coincidences" He arranges. As our creator, He gave us a feeling is one of our greatest gifts. It can be so filled, but also so broken. I think one reason He gave us this is to learn that we can only be satisfied if our hearts are filled with HIM! Nothing on this earth can give us the peace that He can! Last weekend at the CMN telethon, as I talked with another parent who almost lost his child, we both were in tears as we shared with eachother the enormous fears we had that our child may not live. We both were amazed as we related to eachother the dire situations and the peace we were both granted somewhere in the midst of it all. We both know, it did not and could not have come from us. I truly believe there is such a greater force working alongside us every day. It is hard to fathom the power that is there, but it is as close as our breath. You are one of those rare individuals who recognizes that Presence. You are a blessing to me! Thank you!

P J said...

I will be keeping Keith and his family in my prayers and thoughts as well as my "other daughter" and her family as usual.

Love, MizPat

And, yes, get tapes if you can. They are great!