Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sighs and Goodbyes

Most of the time I'm happy with my job; I love my students and I feel like I'm teaching them what is good and true. I can't speak for all of them, but in some of those lives, I make a difference. Most of the time.

Every now and then--actually on very rare occasions--I wonder what might have been if I had gone into the medical research field as I originally wanted. Would I have been able to make a difference there? Would anything I could have discovered in serology, have given hope to my close friends who have died of cancer? Last week we lost a dear lady from our church to cancer. This week we are waiting for the call from family in Arkansas, the call that a family member has finally passed away. 

This is Lorene. After my husband's mother died, when we were still a young family, my father-in-law remarried. Lorene stepped into a family with two sons, two daughters-in-law, and five little grandchildren. She became our "Mom" and has been a member of the family for thirty years, loving us and listening, praying for us and praising our work, an encouraging presence and helping hand.

Little by little we found out about her life, years spent taking care of siblings after her own mother died--siblings who still rely on her for wisdom and help. She bore three sons and also took in foster children for years, remaining close to some, adopting one, and helping to raise grandchildren who needed her. Her first husband died of a heart attack; the second was killed in an automobile when a logging truck slid into his path, and the third (my husband's dad)finally succumbed to Parkinson's disease several years ago.

Since then she has lived in a tiny apartment, looking after neighbors, and working for home health as one who sat with the elderly. Even into her 80's, she was sitting with the elderly and those who were ill. She kept a busy schedule, staying in touch with all her many family members, teaching a Sunday School class every week, leading an interdenominational Bible study on Tuesdays, and taking the many calls from friends, answering, advising, praying...
Now her phone is silent. They've asked us not to call. She is sleeping. Always sleeping. And doesn't want many visitors because she's too sick to see anyone. Not herself anymore...but occasionally she opens her eyes and smiles as she recognizes a grandchild, a daughter, or an old, old friend.

This summer she was diagnosed with cancer. They operated, but didn't give her much hope. Chemo was not an option. She took it with grace. "I'm ready to go," she said. "Pray that the Lord will take me home quickly."   

And things have moved rather quickly. I know. People get old. They die. We can't expect anyone to live in perfect health forever, but when I look at these pictures, it makes me angry. Why so much cancer in the world? Is there anything I might have discovered to help?

Maybe not. Sigh. Probably not. What could I have done that all those medical scientists haven't done? Enough. I should be thankful for the years we had. At least my children and grandchildren got to know this wonderful lady. My prayer is that we will all see her again some day, when we, too, have passed into a world unmarred by death.

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