“Sad News” was Susan’s email subject line greeting me on the third day of our Alaskan cruise. She and Jack were at our home for a wonderful visit just two weeks ago. We walked the beach, enjoyed our combination of four dogs, and shared fellowship. Jack was, as he has been as long as I have known him, passionate about Bible study.
I met Susan and Jack when dating my first husband. After an evening in their home, I told Jerry I felt “fat with friendship.” The four of us developed a close friendship, prayed for and with each other, shared joys and challenges. Susan and Jack and another couple, Joyce and Dick, were with us in Mexico when Jerry and I cried as we talked of his terminal diagnosis and our uncertain future. One of my favorite photos is of Susan, Joyce and me, all wearing straw hats, sunglasses, and either turquoise or celadon green cotton shirts. It’s a cute picture and a reminder of the fun and quality times we shared.
After Jerry died and I had a buyer for our condo in Puerto Vallarta, Susan said “I don’t want you to be there alone when you close up the place. I want to go with you.” And she did.
Now her email told me Jack’s heart stopped suddenly on Monday morning and he went home to be with his heavenly Father, the Lord he loved deeply. Jack was active in life and ministry until the last day of his life.
Dick also passed away within the last month, leaving two dear friends widowed within a month of each other.
I sobbed when I read Susan’s email. Don, my dear husband, held me while we talked and cried. Both Jack and Dick have finished their race on earth, and I grieved …
… for the loss of these dear men’s friendship
… for the pain Susan and Joyce are dealing with and the adjustments they face ahead
… for the anguish I suffered after Jerry’s death
… and for the grief that is likely in my future since Don is quite a bit older than I.
“I don’t want to lose you,” I said to Don. “But I thank God for every day we have together. And regardless of how much or little time we share, I will never regret a day of it.”
Loss is incredibly hard. It tears a person apart, putting him in a pit of despair out of which it seems one will never climb. For awhile, my life seemed surreal as I adjusted to a new and redefined life. That’s just a part of what Susan and Joyce face, along with the loneliness of missing their life partners.
This morning I went to the Bible for comfort. Psalm 8 tells us,
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? …
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! (verses 3, 4 and 9)
Here we are, seeing the majesty and beauty of Alaska. Thirty-mile long glaciers move five feet a day. Grand, rugged snow-capped peaks take my breath away. And I am reminded that God is still in control, and He loves me … and He loves Susan and Joyce. Despite our pain, He has neither forgotten nor has He forsaken us. Death and loss are a part of life, certainly one of the hardest parts, but we do not face them alone.
I can say this because I’ve been there. Even during a crisis of faith following Jerry’s passing, God held onto me and drew me back to His loving heart. In the pain, He was there. That is the hope I cling to as I face the possibility of a second widowhood down the road. God is still in control and He loves and grieves with us.
He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
That is God’s word of hope to my dear friends, whose husbands were my friends as well. Susan and Joyce, I love you. God comfort you.