I call myself a “Storyteller at Heart” and I believe that we all have stories to tell while on this journey we call life on this little blue marble. Never has that been more apparent than this past year when life threw a curveball of massive proportion at myself and my family.
In June 2021, amid the already stressful times of the pandemic, my soulmate of forty-three plus years-my best friend, went home to the Lord after an unexpected discovery of an inoperable, uncurable cancer.
Our relationship, as most, had survived many an obstacle, many a setback, moments of redemption, of grace, and of restoration, but this—this was by far the hardest thing we had ever faced.
What we had thought was perhaps a glitch with his insulin pump, turned out (after a CT scan in the ER on Father’s Day 2021) to be an aggressive cancer that is silent and by the time you notice symptoms, you’re already in what’s called the fourth stage. My husband, a newly retired physician for thirty-three plus years said to me, “I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad.”
We prayed, we cried, we took each day and all the tests with a measure of hope that somehow, somewhere there would be a way to manage this medically. But the resulting factors were not as hoped, and Mark made the choice to come home to have quality time with the time he had left. For us, that was one week, before on July 3, 2021, as we sat around his bedside listening to the neighborhood fireworks and listening to his favorite music, it took a final peaceful breath and ran into the arms of his Lord and Savior.
The story I share is one of courage, faith, and hope and in moments joy. In his last week here with us, I saw the person I fell in love with back in high school and even when in moments when I would break down and not be as strong, he would say to me, “It’s going to be okay”-a simple, statement of conviction and belief to ease my mind and heart. He often over the years would tell me things were “going to be okay” and somehow, I always seemed to find peace in the utter conviction of his faith.
A quiet man, but wise (most days) loving and passionate about helping others, it was a rare thing to see him get angry or raise his voice. It’s what made him a great husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, physician, and friend.
My journey continues and I’m learning to navigate with the help of my faith and hope in the One who brought Mark and I together in the first place. I am grateful to have had such a companion-a soulmate- in my life. I have learned much, especially in reflection of our life together, and my heart is filled with gratitude for God’s immeasurable gift of forty-three plus years together.
Looking back on the letters he wrote me while we were dating, one stuck out and continues to move me forward on this journey until I see Mark again. While I don’t recall the circumstances of him searching the Bible for guidance, still, the word of God does not return void and even now this verse gives me strength. And while I don’t know what lies ahead on this earthly journey, I do know how the story ends. (John 3:16)
I pray that you feel the same.
“There is nothing love cannot face, there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.” (I Corinthian 13:7 NEB)