Find Hope in the Midst of Loss
Don and I have lost three dear friends in the past six weeks. Three memorials this month. Following are some of my thoughts about finding hope in the midst of loss. You can find more information at https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/mental-and-emotional-issues/finding-hope-in-the-darkness-of-grief/
HOPE IN SHARING MEMORIES
We had a memorial service for our friend Bob Noonan on Friday. I’ve known Bob and his late wife over forty years, as friend, dentist and teacher. The memories shared at his memorial led to both laughter and tears. Several individuals said they’d known one side of Bob–as neighbor, dentist, teacher. But the memories shared helped them know him as a more complete individual, and gave them hope in loss.
Bob was a man of faith, integrity, intellect and compassion. He loved his family and doted on his wife. Their love and respect were mutual. We found this card still on his desk many years after her death, addressed “Dearest Sir …”
Two of Bob’s professor colleagues spoke about their respect and admiration for Bob. A friend in his Bible study, who only met Bob face to face after he was in the hospital, talked about how Bob always put Bible truths into the context of the political, economic, and social scene of the time.
HOPE IN SHARING LAUGHTER
Bob’s sister-in-law, Peggy, shared how, at a family gathering when she was dating his brother, John’s nine-year old son asked why they couldn’t just have cheese pizza rather than Hawaiian. Evidently pineapple on pizza was new to them. Scotty’s question led to a discussion about majority rule, democracy, and the pros and cons of the electoral college. That was just “so Bob,” whose love for history came out in interesting ways and settings.
HOPE IN SHARING FAITH
Bob used to teach quite a bit at the Peninsula Bible Church Singles’ group, Careers, in Palo Alto. His Bible has little white space left because of the notes he wrote as he studied. His love of and gift for teaching carried throughout his life, giving hope to many.
As my dentist, Bob taught me what he was learning from the Bible while I had a tongue depressor in my mouth and couldn’t respond! I always felt I came away with much more than clean and treated teeth. Read about a little girl God cares for at https://www.carolloewen.com/a-little-girl-and-a-god-who-lasts/.
HOPE IN A LIFE WELL LIVED
Bob became allergic to the powder in dental gloves, and changed careers to his other love, history. He taught part-time at Evergreen Valley College for about thirty years, which included the challenge of learning to teach online during the pandemic.
As her bridegroom, Bob took on the responsibility to provide and protect Gudren. He was given the privilege of seeing her safely into the arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ, eleven years ago.
After Gudren passed away, Bob’s life became more isolated. We still met for lunch, wrote or called periodically. He’d always say “It’s good to hear your voice, Carol.” But as Covid entered our world and Bob’s health decreased he was very cautious about being with anyone, so we didn’t see each other face to face for a couple of years.
Bob considered the Evergreen History teaching team and his men’s Bible study, both on zoom, as his lifelines to the world.
When we were able to see each other again, Bob’s health had deteriorated even more. Don and I had the privilege of taking him to El Camino and Stanford hospitals on a number of occasions.
HOPE THROUGH ROPE-BEARING
There’s a story in the New Testament in which several friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus on a stretcher. They couldn’t get through the crowd inside the house, so they took the outdoor steps, cut a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend by ropes right in front of Jesus, who healed him on the spot.
Don and I had the privilege of being some of Bob’s rope-bearers.
On Wednesday, Sept 20th I got a call from the Sunnyvale police. Bob had fallen and lain on the floor, unable to move, for four days and nights before a neighbor heard his cries for help. The police broke down the door and called an ambulance, and Don and I rushed to El Camino Hospital.
Over the next six weeks we had the privilege of being with Bob almost every day, to sit and pray with him, to hold his hand so he knew he was not alone. For the first four weeks he was in either the hospital or a rehab facility, until it became clear there was nothing more doctors could do to help him heal, and he agreed to enter hospice care near us.
HOPE BECAUSE OF GOD’S PROMISES
One day Bob’s pain was intense. I cried out to God, asking Him to relieve Bob’s agony. I felt the holy presence of God in the room, and Bob relaxed a bit.
He passed peacefully around 2:30 am on October 29th.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. I Thessalonians 4:13-14
We say farewell to you here, Bob, but not forever. This is no pipe dream but the promise of the holy, righteous God who offers us eternal life through faith In His Son, Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose again to take the penalty for our sins.
You’re rejoicing in the presence of Jesus with Gudren and other loved ones who have gone before you. But rest assured, because of Jesus, we will meet you there. I look forward to that day!
Bob can say with Timothy,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Timothy 4:7