Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Letter at Two Years

My dear Chris,

How I miss you!

On this day two years ago, I held your hand for the last time. I kissed your smooth forehead. I looked into your pained eyes—trying to imagine with you the paradise for which you were departing in just mere moments. I said "goodbye." I watched your chest rise for the final time.

And then I stared at your emaciated, soulless body—so overjoyed for you to be finally delivered from the horrors of the valley of death. I tried to envision the bliss that surely tasted sweeter than my earthly mind could fathom. You were at last with the Lover of your soul.

And then I collapsed. My dearest friend was gone from me. My daughter’s daddy was out of her life forever. Just after you died, I would frequently dream that you came back for just one day. And it felt so good to be in your company and your arms again. I had so much to tell you. And then I would wake with that awful, sinking feeling—the realization of my alone-ness. And one time, I picked up my phone to call you because I just had to ask you something...and then remembered that no one would pick up. It was as if I lost my arm or leg. I didn't know how to live or make decisions without you for a while.

But, I learned. Eventually. The same Jesus that was with you in heaven was also with me. And so I could keep living. Putting one foot in front of the other. I could love and laugh with our girl. And joy began to return—sometimes in ounces, sometimes in bucketfuls.

Chris, you taught me so very much. You taught me patience and fortitude and grace. You were called to many years of pain and sleepless nights and scary doctor visits and awful treatments and news that went from bad to worse. And shattered hopes and dreams. And too-early goodbyes. And one of the most drawn-out deaths possible. You were stripped of every last shred of modesty but never lost your dignity or grace. Your prayer to "die in the saddle" (of ministry) was answered. Your death was the most important lesson in all of my life.

Eternal perspective came to me from that valley. But sometimes it slips away a bit. I forget the lessons I learned. I forget what you taught me—the  lessons you learned from your Savior and Friend. I start worrying about things. I snap and say unkind words. I lose my temper. I start to think that this life is all there is and that I have to make all my dreams come true here. (You know me and all my weak spots.)

And so, I'm thankful for this anniversary. A day to remember those lessons. And to remember you, my sweet man, and all the ways you reflected your Lord. A day to look back so that I may walk forward with purpose and grace.

I've had many gifts. The gift of a decade with you—living and growing with you, loving and being loved by you. The gift of parenting with you. And your death—bitter as it was—was also a gift. The lessons learned could not have been learned otherwise. (And your dying ministry reached far beyond your wife. You taught thousands how to suffer well.)

And now, I am quite confident you know about my newest gift. Erika and I are now two of eight! The Lord has answered your prayer and has placed the solitary in a family (Psalm 68:6)—and quite a large one at that! I have a godly and kind husband, and Erika has a father and five siblings. Our new family members have their own dear one in heaven—where you are. And so we often wonder if you and Bev know our story and if you have sweeter fellowship because of it? And I also wonder if you do most of the talking?

Guess what? God gave me another talkative husband! There are a few other ways in which you are similar, but more that you are not. The important things are there, though. Scotty loves the Lord, he loves me, and he loves his kids—all six of them. You'd like him a lot. Like you, he's passionate and excitable. It's one of the first things I liked about him.

We don't know where the Lord will take us, but we pray for hearts that are willing to be poured out always and for hands that hold our plans and hopes loosely. Our prayer is much like the prayers you and I prayed together.

How different, though, is this plan from the dreams we dreamed! But I wouldn't change one thing. And I am absolutely certain that you agree. Our God is a loving Sovereign, isn't He? How thoroughly you know this now! His purposes are grand and good. And you see and understand them now. I still walk by faith.

Thank you for living life with me while you were here. I will see you soon, my dear man. Much love.


  1. Oh Em! I loved reading every word of this post. Love you lots, sweet friend!

  2. Touching post... so transparent, and I'm sure a huge help to others who suffer similar trials. Our God is faithful and good ALL the time. Love you, Susan Blount,

  3. Joy comes in many ways, in many gifts that if we don't have eyes to see, we may miss.

    Gods gifts are abundant, our Father hears our cries, and He does answer.

    Bless you Em. Erika, what a special Mommy and Daddy you have. Daddy Chris would be so proud.

  4. This post was beautiful my dear friend! Sending you hugs from far away! Love you!