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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 103 - At First {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, the timed and keyword-driven writing challenge hosted by our dear Kate Motaung.

The first word for 2016 is...FIRST

OK.

When all of this began, I was a different person. Stronger, certainly, and more optimistic, even though there was scant cause for optimism. Physiology breeds hope, and I felt better.

I surrounded myself with moto songs and slogans, and kept up an attitude that was defiant in the extreme.

And boy, is all that embarrassing now.

I've been bludgeoned into something I no longer recognize, a shadow that moves carefully, and speaks softly...if at all.

The sense of identity I had, as many things, has leached away, and I find, to my interest, that I no longer use much jargon or slang. It seems wrong, somehow, a pretension that has no place in this situation.

There, see? I was about to say something charged, like 'battle', or 'fight'...but all I could come up with was the banal 'situation'.

And my caregiver, my wife, is perplexed, because the person she married has been replaced by this grey man, without opinion or comment. She's still in the World of Light, where ego (the good kind) and attitude are helpful accoutrements to a life well-lived.

Not so in the Shadow World. Facing the Ultimate Authenticity, one can't hide between words, phrases, or poses.

On can only look Death in its baleful eye.

And SPIT IN IT.

That's it.

If you can.please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

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52 comments:

  1. Praying for y'all!! Don't lose the light!!

    Your fmf friend parked at number two this week

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    1. Thanks, Miranda. I'm trying not to lose it, but it's becoming an uphill fight. Still here, though.

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  2. At the risk of sounding trite, we're all livin' in the Shadowlands.

    http://reflectiontherapy.blogspot.com/2011/06/livin-in-shadowlands.html

    Sterkte, friend. Keep your eyes on the prize.

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    1. Dankie, vriend...and you are right, We're all there.

      Just so glad that you are HERE, my dear Kate.

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  3. love and prayers, as always, my friend. thank you for writing.

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    1. Jordan, thank you so much. I do need the prayers. I'm in the rapids.

      Thank you so much for being here.

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  4. We always change as the dross gets burned away and we allow ourselves to be constrained and reduced to just who God wants us to be--which is usually a far cry from what we think we should be or think God must want us to be. My prayers are with you as you go through the fire.

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    1. So true, Anita! It reminds me of C.S. Lewis' "Voyage of the Dawn Treader", when Eustace is stripped of his dragon-skin.

      It hurts. A lot.

      Thank you so much for your prayers!

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  5. Continuing to pray for you. I totally picture you spitting in deaths face. I keep coming back to this verse for the season of Epiphany "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it."

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    1. I love that quote, Tara. I have tattooed it on my heart.

      I so appreciate the prayers. Things are bad, bad, bad, but I have faith that the light exists.

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  6. Lifting you in prayer tonight, Andrew. I'm praying God meets you with comfort, peace, and His presence. You still have a calling on your life, and as long as you have breath, you continue to pursue it. It's a blessing to call you friend.

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    1. Oh, Julie, thank you! Your words mean so much...and I draw such comfort and wisdom from your own writing.

      And I, too, am blessed to be in your friendship. Truly.

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  7. Andrew, your writing is so clear and concise... it makes my heart hurt for all the pain you and your wife have been through. I am praying for you today and for your amazing caregiver. I can't even fathom all the power God has to help us in each and every situation. I pray that He strengthens you both and fills you with that explainable joy that only comes from the Holy Spirit!
    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

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    1. Amy, thank you so much; your prayers mean more than you may know, for I feel them.

      It's up to God, as it has always been. I'm out of options beyond simply enduring.

      But He, and His earthly Hands and Heart...my friends...are holding my head above the water.

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  8. Andrew, in reality, we are all one breath away from forever; HOWEVER, brother, I gladly and humbly SPIT WITH YOU. xo I've been praying for you dear and Barbara.

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    1. Susan...one, two, three...SPIT!

      We so appreciate your prayers.

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  9. You're continually in my prayers, Andrew. Thank you for painting an honest picture of your life and for sharing with us.

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    1. Sam, I appreciate this so much...the authenticity of the situation is the hardest thing I've ever had to document, but it's the best that I can do for God, and for my sisters and brothers.

      I so appreciate the prayers...and badly, badly need them now. I'm hurting.

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  10. Andrew,
    I missed all the FMF fun last night. It's been a very intense week. (we're back from holiday break at school and gearing up for finals)
    I'm so glad to read your post. I've recently caught up on your recent ones and can I say that I'm rejoicing in the restoration in your relationship? That you don't feel so tough anymore and you don't feel like fighting as much is ephiphanous (probably not a real word) to me.
    You see, my "oneword" for 2016 is humble. And, to be humble is to admit that you can't do it alone.
    That you need someone else to help you.
    That's rough. Out of pure survival we harden and steel ourselves so that inside we aren't vulnerable.

    But God is gently prying apart our clutched fingers to completely restore our little puny hearts. And when we let Him in, and others as well, we take risks. Great risks. But two people with God at the center of their committed risky business?? (yes, a double meaning there) That is beautiful. Because God makes the two into one. And God is the three in one.

    For the first time, Andrew, you are speaking from a humble place, but it makes you braver. Your courage comes from admitting that you are powerless. We don't admire the strong people who win as much as those who struggle and fight and barely come out on top.

    And we admire you, Andrew. I too have had to learn to speak softly this year. But you know what? They're still listening. :D And when I'm softer spoken, I'm less likely to drown out God's voice.

    Not sure if I'll link up this week, but thankful that you did.
    ~Tammy

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    1. Okay, I'm linked up at #53. :)

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    2. Tammy, you said this so beautifully. Hardness has a use, yes, but when it becomes an end in itself...as it did with me...it's simply the prison we build for ourselves, excluding others, and excluding God.

      You are in my prayers...and I hope everyone who reads this will visit your post. It's awesome. You are awesome, my dear friend.

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  11. Quite a juxtaposition, Andrew. I find it difficult to picture you this way, "without opinion or comment". You may no longer be fighting your situation, but you are fighting the good fight, the fight we all should fight until He brings us home. We fight with different weapons, at different times and intensities, as He gives us the grace to do so. May He continue to provide you with the grace to do so, friend. Blessings and prayers.

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    1. June, yes, is is a weird, weird juxtaposition of purpose and hope, and I feel a bit lost at the moment. The old paradigms don't work, and the new ones are unfamiliar tools in my hand.

      But they are there, and real...and one can only do one's best.

      I so appreciate the prayers. It's kind of awful as I write this.

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  12. Words seem meaningless today. I like the comments on humbling, they indeed have merit. I'm looking out at trees against a backdrop of blue. The birds are singing in cheerful voice. And I am thinking about what you have written. I wonder how you would live life differently if God were to add to your number of days by restoring your health.

    I can't really relate but I can share a story. A few years back I was working in the orchard with my daughter when I felt this dark cloud of sorrow come over me. I was thinking about death and the possibility that mine should end at the hand of another person (a possibility at the time b/c of mental illness in someone who was angry with me). As I thought about it, I realized that I wasn't afraid to of death, that dying didn't scare. That leaving earth might be a relief from the constant grief that life kept seeming to serve me. The pain and suffering would be done, and it almost felt welcome. Then sadness covered me. I looked at my twelve year old daughter working next to me, just on the cusp of womanhood. I realized the part that bothered me was that if I should die I would not be able to finish raising her, I wouldn't be there for my kids, and future grandchildren and my work on earth would be finished. I'd never be able to write the many books I desired to write. It would be over and the curtain shut. That is the part about death that bites.

    Life is a strange beast. At some point we realize that what once meant so much to us no longer is all that important. That it is the deeper things that take on a more radiant quality. That hope is what gets us through the day, and even it has its limits.

    I wish for you, dear Andrew, relief from the suffering. But that is an unrealistic hope. Instead I will wish for God's holy intervention and sustaining grace. Still praying.

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    1. Norma, your story is absolutely spot-on. There are so many things I still want to do, and I look around, at the half-finished projects, the partly-repaired relationships...and know that it is likely that they will be left undone, and that life will not have "The End" in Old English letters, fading on the screen, but will just be ov

      Just like that, and I can only hope (and I do believe) that God has gathered these dreams into His heart, and they will be waiting for me, work to do, when I get to Heaven.

      Relief from pain is not likely now (and seems REALLY far away as I write this...it's miserable). There are no Damascene moments here. I wish there were.

      But I am glad that I called my ebook "Faith In The Night", because that is the only thing I have.

      Thank you so much for your prayers, Norma. I appreciate them so very, very much.

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  13. Andrew, I don't see you as wasted, pale or grey. Your words spark with a vitality you may not possess but they have life and meaning of their own. Yes, keep spitting in the face of death if you can muster up the energy to do so. But there is nothing wrong with accepting quietude, softness or surrender either. Maybe being so sick feels like living in a Shadowland worse than most, yet you will not melt unseen into the shadows, my friend. You are too aware for that. Your presence here and (most importantly) the way others react to it is proof that you are vitally alive in your spirit. Grateful for your 'cut to the chase' comments here. Spare prose only serves to heighten its quality. Praying for you and Barbara to be strengthened and sustained by grace.

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    1. Dear Joy, thank you so much! Your words have given light to an evening that is dreadfully dark, and rather frightening. I'm so aware now that the vitality I have really does come from the Holy Ghost, and through His work through my friends. It's at once very humbling, and glorious.

      Thank you so much for the prayers. We need them badly now and appreciate them so much.

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  14. My friend, I think that, in the stripping away, who you truly are shines brightly.

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    1. Marie, thank you so much...it's maybe like heat-treating metal. Makes the steel stronger, but I bet it hurts!

      Thank you so much for being here. Your friendship means a lot to me.

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  15. Andrew, I don't know you and you don't know me but I have been reading your blog off and on over the past 6 months or so and have been following more regularly (daily) over the past week. As I opened your blog on my phone today and read as I waited to pick up my 5th grade son from school, a song began playing on my radio by The Afters called Live on Forever. It nearly brought me to tears as I read of your struggles. (Google it and listen) God has you in the palm of His hand and you ARE going to live FOREVER with Him in heaven. There will be no tears there nor pain. You will be made perfect as Christ is perfect. He has prepared a place for you and you WILL hear those coveted words that we all seek to hear when our journey here has ended...well done. My heart breaks at your pain. My mind cannot fathom the road you have walked, but I know whom I serve and I know that He is literally right there with you now. Though you may not sense Him through the pain, He is holding you and His mightiest angels stand as sentries all around you and your wife. You are precious to Him and His Love for you is great and knows no bounds.

    May the peace of God that passes ALL understanding envelop you and overwhelm you. I pray that your pain would subside in Jesus name.

    I will continue to pray for you!!!☺

    Sincerely,
    Dawn Grady

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    1. Dawn, thank you so much for being here and commenting...your sympathy is a steadying arm on a very shaky evening, and your words of hope lift my heart.

      I appreciate the prayers so much...and I love the Afters, though I have not yet heard that song. Going to Youtube now! :)

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  16. Praying for you both daily...thought this may encourage you as you "spit" at death:

    Horizon, by Debora Cornelia Sommer

    may your journey through the country of longing
    be blessed in both the bright and dark hours
    may miracles line your path
    and stars brighten your night
    may the view of the goal of the journey
    fill your day-to-day life with eternity

    may a saving hand catch you
    in the waves of wistfulness
    so you do not drown
    in what your heart cannot bear
    may the sorrows of your soul
    become springs of revelation

    may the healing hand of God touch you
    in the valley of loneliness
    that fear may not overwhelm you
    and that you find a way out of the desert
    may in the battle with the shadows of the night
    you become strong inwardly and outwardly

    may a break of dawn
    follow your darkest hour
    a spring follow your winter
    a rainbow follow your storm
    may you again and again go forth in faith
    in the dead ends of life

    may in the storms of life
    you never lose sight of the silver lining
    that opens up horizons of hope
    may you follow the melody of your heart
    through the storm and weather toward the sun
    and at the end of your journey arrive at home

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    1. Anna, thank you so much for the lovely poem. It's going up on the refrigerator.

      And another copy on the wall above the computer.

      ...and at the end of (my) journey arrive at home.

      Yes. Thank you, my friend.

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  17. Andrew, thanks for continuing to make the effort to write. I so appreciate your authenticity, and there is truly no need for flashy words. Your voice is straightforward and powerful and truthful. In fact I love the way you chose the word "situation" instead of the more dramatic options. It conveys the complex, multifaceted nature of your circumstances which are much more than a battle against an illness. Also, I'm reflecting on "hiding behind words"... Praying for you and for what God is doing in and through you each day. Blessings, strength, and grace for the journey. ~Katy

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    1. Katy, thank you so much...I think of you and your journey often, and you're in my prayers.

      Hiding behind words can be useful; it can protect our hearts from the things we are not yet ready to face (that image is used in describing the smoke over New York on 9/11, in Oliver Stone's wonderfully faith-filled film "World Trade Center").

      But eventually the smoke has to part. And it may not be as scary as we have feared.

      Thank you so much for the prayers, Katy. It's a horrible night, and they mean a lot to me.

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  18. My mother, at the young age of 55, is sick with cancer right now with grim news at the end of this illness. It is difficult for me to read your posts because it is so very close to home, but it gives me a little insight into the "other side" of the illness. Luckily, she and I both know who is in control but that doesn't make the trials any easier to handle. Not all the time, at least. Some days are better than others. I look to Proverbs 3: 5-6 a lot to keep His promise to me fresh in my head.

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    1. Oh, Alicia! I am so sorry. There are really no words besides those...only prayers for you and your Mum.

      If there is one thing to keep in mind...dying people feel remarkably normal much of the time. At least, I find that I can't concentrate on the elephant in the room 24/7. The flip side of this is that the realization of reality can return with a shattering suddenness, and at those times...I REALLY need a hug.

      Thank you so much for being here, and sharing your story.

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  19. You force our eyes to see what the valley of death is like, Andrew. This time it is full of longstanding pain and despair. I certainly can understand that. I'm in bit of a funk myself (yes, I used something of a "slang" word, so I must not be that bad off! ha!). But you remain in my thoughts and prayers, dear friend. I'm praying that you feel encouraged as well as loved no matter how dark the valley is.

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    1. Beth, I'm praying for you!

      I thought yesterday had been the worst...until today. But I am still encouraged by Scripture, and by the love of those around me, in person and online. Love is truly the most important thing...and I feel loved more than I ever have in my life.

      It's a wonderful feeling. Don't groan...but it's a feeling...wait for it...to die for.

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  20. You are an inspiration, Andrew. I'm amazed at your tenacity and perseverance in adversity. You are an inspiration to all of us! Praying for you and thank you for sharing!

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    1. Rachel, thank you so much! I've learned so much about life, love and faith from your writing...your kind words mean the world to me.

      And thank you so much for the prayers. I do need them. the past days have been simply dreadful.

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  21. Andrew, I am sure the situation feels dark but you still shine in the words you share. May God be with you, strengthening you & giving you His peace.

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    1. Joanne, thank you so much for being here, and for your loving and uplifting words...I surely need them as I write this, for today has been heartachingly hard.

      Still here, though.

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  22. Andrew, thank you for sticking with the blog, for reporting truth that isn't easy or fun to read, but that we need.
    Blessings and peace to you.

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    1. Michele, thank you for being here...I always value your presence, and your comments.

      It is a tough blog to write, but I suspect that God would not be above clouting me upside the head with a ruler if I thought of stopping (and in truth, I have not thought of stopping, for I do remember the rulers wielded by nuns...and God's BIGGER!)

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  23. I am continuing to pray and your words never fail to inspire and remind me of what is truly important. Blessings on your day!

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    1. Mary, thank you! This has been a very, very hard day...but it is blessed by your gracious words, and loving presence. Thank you.

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  24. Keep spitting! We are praying for you, and God is honored by each day you choose not to get up, and to keep living despite the pain and difficulty.

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    1. Sarah...I will. The days have gotten darker and harder...but I'm pushing back.

      Life is worth living, and pain with purpose can be borne.

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  25. Hey Andrew - I'm connecting again from Inspire Me Monday. Joy, above, said exactly what I was thinking. You may feel pale and gray, but what springs from your writing is anything but that. It carries a beauty and poignancy that makes one believe that spitting at death is possible! Spit away, my friend!

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    1. Oh, Carol I will! More than spitting...I am always reminded of my favourite quote of all time, from Keith Richards...

      "If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet."

      Substitute 'death' for 'authority', and Keith's got it taped!

      Thank you so much for being here!

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