I am having a difficult few days. Today I attended a funeral of the mother of one of my dearest friends, Steve. Three weeks ago she was diagnosed with cancer and was given a timetable of about Christmas. She passed away 23 days later. She was a healthy woman all of her life, only being sick 2 or 3 months prior. Obviously, it was a shock to Steve and his family.
When my father passed, Steve was the first person at my house the next day, with tears in his eyes. He exemplified what the bible commands us to do when it says to mourn with those who are mourning. I asked him to play trumpet at my dads funeral. He played two stanzas of Amazing Grace, the first verse being played traditionally, the second verse done in a jazz style, honoring my father’s jazz trumpeting days. I was honored by Steve’s honor to my dad.
That very same week, one of my best friends from junior high and high school days, who I still keep very close contact with, Richard, lost his mother to heart disease complications. I attended my second funeral in less than a week. Rich and I and our other best mutual friend Dwight mourned together, and a week later took a trip to Beaver’s Bend to get away from it all.
This week Richard’s father is in his last moments. He’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure from some time now, but this year he’s been battling it full on. A week ago things turned for the worst. The family is bracing itself for the inevitable, and Mr. P is facing this with peace and dignity. The medical staff has made him as comfortable as possible in these last few moments. It could be within hours or a few days.
Another family relation is on dialysis, and recently had a bout with internal bleeding that hospitalized her for a few days. This is on top of other medical complications. She’s pulled through, but is fighting to gain her strength back.
Earlier last week I saw another friend from church whose husband nearly died from leukemia. After a second opinion from another doctor and medical institution, and after several procedure, he’s bounced back. He still has a long battle ahead of him, but his and his wife’s faith are pulling them through.
Another childhood friend who has suffered many heart attacks, strokes, and a bout with cancer has a small blood clot in his brain. He’s functional and is living life day to day, even out and about. But a small shift in that blood clot could mean the end of his life.
Another good friend lost his nephew to suicide after a bout with depression onset by a painful divorce.
Stressful, painful overwhelming circumstances that are really not my own, but I own them anyway. These are people I care about, and I will suffer along with them.
But you know what? God is still Good. I believe that wholeheartedly. We live in a fallen world. Much is out of our control. And the things that are in control yet we falter anyway, we can know we are forgiven. We can receive that forgiveness and move on. We can heal and recover. Life can move on. We can mourn and grieve, and take our time and process it. I would hope we won’t settle there and that we would have the hope to move on at a reasonable time. But we can enjoy the right to grieve on our terms. As I have said multiple times over the past few days, we can choose our response. I’m choosing to mourn, process it, learn from it, and move forward.
Addendum: Richard’s father passed away hours after writing this, on December 15th. We had the funeral on December 18th, with Graveside services on the 20th with military honors. Dwight joined us again for the services.