I quit writing. I reached a point in life that I just didn’t think what I had to say was really worth anyone’s time. My life isn’t so different from anyone else’s life. I work. I have a family. We struggle sometimes but generally, life is pretty ok. Sometimes really good, other times…not so good.
2020 seemed like it would be an awesome year. I am a Leap Year girl. 2020 is a Leap Year. I normally get so excited when my birthday “really” comes…in those Leap Years so many big things also usually happen like the Olympics and electing a President. I usually can keep track of history by my Leap Year birthdays. Trust me…I won’t forget 2020.
We started the year traveling to Alaska. In the dead of Winter. When I say “dead of Winter” you need to imagine going to live in your freezer. The temperatures were between -20 and -40. I was SO COLD. We didn’t go on vacation. We went to help our nephew’s family while he was in the end stage of metastatic liver cancer. Sam was only 37.
Sam and his youngest sister, Susanna, both battled cancers at the same time. For their ages, the cancers were extremely rare–Sam’s because he was so young to have that particular type of cancer and Susanna’s because her type was a juvenile cancer – and she was 30.
Early on, there seemed to be little hope that Susanna would beat her cancer. The diagnosis didn’t come until she was nearly dead. The life-saving surgery nearly killed her as well. Once she was able to begin chemo, THAT almost did her in.
But remarkably, we arrived in Alaska and while we were there, she got her clean bill of health–cancer-free. We were so grateful. Thankful. We rejoiced. Hours later, her brother lost his earthly battle and went to his heavenly home–completely healed. He left behind his wife and four sons, his parents, two sisters and many cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.
We grieved the loss of Sam–we still do. We had hoped for the miracle that didn’t come, but we also knew that he had fought so hard. He gave the cancer every blow he could. He went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN several times, but each time the news was worse. So we knew, that barring a miracle, he would be with his Savior. It was a painful reality but one that we were able to find comfort in the sorrow.
My last Saturday in Alaska was spent shopping with Susanna. She was purchasing items for gift baskets that were going to 10 different medical teams that had all worked to save her life. It was the one year anniversary of her life-saving surgery. It was a very cold, celebratory day. We had dirty chai lattes and walked all over Anchorage looking for perfect gifts to include in the baskets. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was up for traipsing around in the frigid temps, but we went and conquered. She was such a warrior.
After spending the month of January up north, we returned home to the Midwest. We had just a few days before heading to Oklahoma for the wedding of another nephew. Happy days. And then I slipped on icy wet tile and broke my foot. I know. If you have read any other blog posts, or if you know me at all, you know this was the 4th fracture of the left foot. I was so done.
But you know how life goes…it wasn’t a bad fracture and it healed pretty easily (for which I was truly thankful). For 5 weeks I let my body “sit” and begin the emotional healing process. I suppose if I had not broken my foot, I would have been busy and distracted. Grief would have taken a back seat to everyday life. God was gently moving me and healing my hurt.
I took a quick trip to California for my niece’s baby shower. So wonderful. Such a time of blessing and joy for my sister’s daughter. It was a precious time to share with them. I started to move forward in the grief. I flew home and just continued moving forward.
Just one week after I returned home, my husband’s phone rang in the middle of the night. He answered the phone to hear his sister trying to tell him something, but she was too distraught to get the words out. The line went dead. He called her back and her husband answered the phone. Susanna has been murdered by her estranged husband.
It still is almost impossible for me to grasp. The lively, vivacious, high-energy mother of two little ones was gone. The victim of a vicious attack of domestic violence. In one minute, her life was snuffed out.
My husband left on the first plane headed back to Alaska. He spent over three weeks helping–two little ones just three and four–left motherless in an instant. How do you even begin? How do you “help” a mother and father who have lost two children in less that two months? How do you begin to comfort someone who has lost her older brother and younger sister? So much sorrow.
But he did help. He hugged and loved. He read and cuddled. He walked and shared the grief with his sister, brother-in-law, niece and the widow of our nephew. He spent time with four boys who were missing their dad and now their aunt. Almost like Abraham, God said he should go and so he went.
I cannot begin to put into words how I coped while he was gone. COVID-19 happened. We were all shut up in our homes, isolated. What a horrible time to be kept away from my parents, my spiritual brothers and sisters at my church, my grandchildren, my friends.
I have never cried like I have since Susanna was killed. I still cry every day. It feels like the tears should have dried up by now, but no…they still flow from an insatiable fountain. But even in this deep sorrow, I have found comfort. I am reminded that I am not alone in my sorrow. I can be comforted knowing that there is One who knows my sorrow and is with me in it.
Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God. Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.Hebrews 4:14-16 GNT
I am finding grace to help me–I need it. I can go into God’s very throne room whenever I need to. He is welcoming me with grace and mercy. Jesus, my High Priest, sympathizes with me in grief–and that gives me so much comfort and confidence as I trust Him to help me through the sorrow.
There is a song that I have heard and now have it written on my heart. It truly speaks my grief to music. And it also speaks comfort to my broken heart. If anyone is in need of comfort–it is there for you.