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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 37 - Try To Remember {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday again, that keyword-writing-challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

Today's word is TRY.

So...let's try!


There will come a time, when your spouse is slipping from this life, down the weeks and months and perhaps years, that your paths will start to diverge.

You'll be in the workforce, involved with church, involved with family, and if you have kids of school age, involved with their activities, while your spouse is turning inward.

The turn inward comes both from the battle with a terminal illness, but as things progress to the point where one has to leave the workforce, cut back on travel, cut back on social engagements...he or she is going to be finding a different paradigm to make the rest of their life worthwhile, or at least bearable, and it is likely to be quite different from yours.

So try to remember.

Try to remember the times you shared, the fun you had, and the challenges that brought you along the road to today. Pull up the memories, open the scrapbooks, sit down on the sofa and talk about them.

And try to remember why you married this person in the first place, why you pledged your life and your heart, till death do the two of you part...at least for a little while.

Try with intention, because sometimes the remembering will be hard. I am very different from the man Barbara married; in trying to make sense of this, in trying to put something horrible into a positive context, I've slipped away from what I was.

Would she have married the man I am now (well, if I was like this, but not sick)? Hard to say, and I'll never ask.

But she has to try to remember the man I was in the wedding pictures on the living room wall.

You're doing it for your spouse, yes, to stay connected, to give him or her the sense of being loved in a continuity...that's something you owe, part of the vow you made.

But you're also doing it for the you that will be...after.

The you that will be going on alone, leaving a memory frozen in emotional aspic. If you turn away from the memories now, while they can still be touched, while they still have warm blood in their veins, you'll be killing a part of yourself; killing the validity of years of your own life, because if you say goodbye from a distance that's already become great...

...it's a tearless goodbye.

And you, dear reader, deserve better.


This was a tough one. How'd I do?

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  1. Andrew, I admit, my throat is tight. This is a hard one, but so true. I had a wise older woman remind me when I got married to always remember the reason I fell in love with my husband. As I remember him then, and I see the man he's become now, I'm truly thankful.

    To remember with a spouse who's dying—while they're still alive—such wisdom there. After they are gone (I almost typed flown the coop . . .), those memories can be tinged with comfort. You're right, if we choose to distance ourselves from our dying spouse, whether to protect our hearts or for another reason, we are the ones who go forward on empty. There's pain in the remembering while a dying spouse is still alive, but in that pain there is also comfort. Beautiful post, my friend.

    And, I'm continuing to pray for you and Barbara.

    1. Jeanne, your comment is so, so lovely...you said it just perfectly.

      When I fly the coop, I hope I leave a legacy of language that makes people say...hey...kinda reminds me of Jeanne T's writing! (I had to get 'flown the coop' in there!)

      "We are the ones who go forward on empty"; what a compelling image.

      Thank you for this contribution...and thank you for the prayers, my friend.

  2. I am honored to be your neighbor on Five Minute Friday today, Andrew. I remember when an elderly man in our church lost his wife a few years back. Our pastor commented that he (the widower) probably remembered his wife as she was in their earlier years of their marriage. I teared up at that thought and immediately realized what a great practice it would be for a marriage to remember the good times on a regular basis. Even now, with only 23 years of marriage behind us, I still think back on those earlier years quite often. Beautiful post, and we're praying for you. :-)

    1. "...what a great practice it would be for a marriage..."

      Absolutely perfect, Meghan, you nailed it! It DOES take practice, and like every response to a critical situation, the actions that are most effective are those that have been PRACTICED.

      Thank you for that contribution, and especially for the prayers!

  3. Oh Andrew! I'm at a loss for words. These are hard words to read but It is so important to remember. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Continuing to pray for you!

    1. Tara, thank you...it's important in this difficult place, but really, it's important for every couple.

      I'm glad you're here. Your presence, and your comments, are valued.

  4. Andrew, your writing is so real and passionate. I am blessed by the truth you share and encouraged to "remember" my husband even while he is still here. No one is ever promised tomorrow. Thank you for having the courage to share. You write hard words about difficult things, but the result is a softening and growing for your readers. Continue to fight the good fight and know that we pray for you.

    1. That the hard words offer a softening...that's something I never considered! Thank you for that, Elizabeth. You just gave me the kind of clarity that helps me go on.

      Thank you so much for being here. Your presence is important, and your support...it's vital.

  5. Andrew "sometimes the remembering will be hard". Brother, that hit me! It is so difficult to grow and change and shift to accommodate when others need to make shifts, but I do, whole heartedly believe, it is a good fight to pursue. I guess this hit home because I too have a progressive, ongoing, chronic disease, have had to leave work and lost much I once held meaningful. I am doing better now, but the first year was very new and challenging. The losses compounded the already high grieve from loss of physical health and stamina. Andrew, I appreciate this post.

    1. Your words are so very important to me, coming from the heart of the bravest of the brave.

      Guys, whoever's reading this, PLEASE visit this amazing woman. She will leave you awestruck, and, like me, crying. Not from pity, but from thanks, that there are people like her, people with that brand of courage, in the world.

      Here's the link. Now, GO.


  6. Andrew,
    So much beautiful, heart-wrenching, hard-to-really-live truth here.

    While I haven't lost my spouse, and he seems fine now, losing my daughter made me realize the truth that we must remember the good. We must live every moment with joy and find the gifts God gives, because those memories are precious. They linger. They bring tears, but they also bring peace and joy.

    Live well. Live together in all the moments your have here. Sing for joy in all because you have hope.

    Lifting you in prayer,

    1. "They bring tears, but they also bring peace and joy..."

      Oh, Debbie, those are the words of courage. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, and for being here today.

      And thank you for the prayers - you have mine, as well.

  7. you continue to touch my heart deeply, bless you and Barbara. by the way, to answer your question, you did very well.

    1. Denise, thank you...that means a lot to me. I never really have a feeling for how these posts come across, and knowing that they were effective is tremendously important. This is the hardest job I have ever had, and the most important. I truly want to do it right.

      And thank you for the prayers and blessings. They matter to me.

  8. Yep, there's a time and place to open the photo albums, pull out the scrapbooks, dig into the box of cards and letters that were tucked away.

    There's nothing maudlin about doing so, is there, friend. It's an important lifeline ... for both spouses.

    Good stuff here, Andrew. What a legacy you continue to build!

    1. Linda, thank so so very much...it's hard stuff to write, sometimes, but God is showing the way, and giving me the strength.

      And you're right, it's not maudlin at all to share those memories. That's why God gave us a memory in the first place, to place what we have today in context, and to see His guiding hand (when we allowed it!) in our marriages.

      You're in my prayers, Linda. I hope the transitions you've gone through continue smoothly, and that you are in the comfort of His arms...always.

  9. Oh Andrew, you did so darn good. You try harder than any FMF writer...you are an inspiration to me and all of us. xo

    1. Susan, I don't know what to say...except thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Yes, what a tough but victorious way to live, valuing every moment, celebrating right in the face of death, as if to say, 'where is you victory?' Remembering is honouring and celebrating... and never letting any sickness steal your joy. Thanks again for pointing us towards 'life to the full.'

    1. The guidance from Above and the support that has come up alongside, to hold up my arms when strength fails...it's impossible not to celebrate, even in this, when so blessed.

      Thank you so much for being here, Ruth.

  11. I don't have words, Andrew. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thank you for being here, Marie. Your presence and your support mean a lot to me.

  12. Oh my, Andrew...yes, of course you did good - as always! Always able to put into words the "hard"; that which we don't want to face, yet must...and coming from someone in the stage of life you find yourself, I cherish those words; and pray you and Barbara cherish those memories!

    {As an avid scrapbooker, I had to smile when you wrote "open the scrapbooks". I have TONS of them around here!!}

    Your words inspire; touch and inspire others to live our lives in a different way...because, we don't know what is around the corner for us to deal with/live with...or when our time - or our loved ones' - is at an end.

    Prayers continue and I pray today that you and Barbara can share those memories and remember the WHY - why you fell in love however many years ago. Thank you, Andrew...just...thank you!

    1. When I thought of the scrapbooks, I was thinking of Scrapper123. We actually don't scrapbook; life's been so busy, that the personal memories have to be trusted to God's care, that they will be there when we need them.

      Being in 'this place'...and right now, as I am typing this, it is more awful than usual...wish I could bang my head against something but that's undignified...uh, where was I?

      Oh, right. The huge discovery, the one that I really hope comes through in every post, is that there is beauty and tenderness and joy in the most hard-pressed fight, if we'll just let them in. It's not even a matter of stopping and smelling the roses; you don't have to pause in contemplation. Just be open.

      And I thank you for your prayers; they help, and are appreciated. Please know you have mine, as well.

    2. Well, Scrapper123 happens to be ME!! And, I have thought of changing that address many times; but I guess it IS who I am!!!

  13. Andrew,
    I'm going to "try" to comment, but so many people have said it all. Instead, I will tell you that when I "tried" to comment to you last week and lost the comment, I ended with telling you that I was going to have you in the back of my mind during the run and if I felt like giving up-you would have your best drill sergeant voice barking at me to finish.

    Well, when I saw your comments and they were affirming and (oh my goodness Snoopy?!) (It's like you know me!)
    Anyway, I almost cried. You're not tough at all. (except when you must be)
    And I was picturing you doing the Snoopy dance. We can both laugh now. I was even hearing that very talented piano riff for a while.
    So, you encouraged me more than you could possibly know. If you didn't pick up on it, I was a little less than satisfied with my results, but you said four times, and once was in all caps. "you did it." (You really went overboard-but I needed it!)
    Not, "you could have done better"...because that's what I've been hearing in my head for a week.
    Thank you, Andrew. You have freed me, and you didn't even know. My best is good enough.

    (and so is yours!!)
    All God wants is for us to "try".

    1. Well, now you know my secret. I'm not tough - a few years ago a dog by the name of Jolly Tulip (a name he didn't have at the time) had to be rescued from the clutches of officialdom, which wanted him dead. I'll tell the while story in the blog one day, but suffice it to say that his gratitude at being saved touched something deep inside me. I no longer had to have the hard shell; real strength came with compassion and love, and was informed and motivated by them.

      I did pick up on the 'less than completely satisfied' feeling...but in being out there, in DOING, you're heroic. Your best is the decision to take the first step, and not to quit until the last finish line's crossed, and you impressed me so much.

      And you are a model for me, Tammy; there are times I don't know how I will see the completion of what I've started, but I will now and forever have that picture in my head, of you running.


    2. Oh Andrew,
      look at what you did for me two years ago.
      You encouraged me when I thought I had failed.
      You shouted from the rooftops and cheered me with "you did it".
      Bless you, my friend!!!

    3. Tammy, thank you so much for saying this, for coming back to this post...that I could help you is, for me, a gift and high honour.

      Love back, from all of us.

  14. Andrew, I have nothing to share short of saying that this goes to a deep place where I will keep it should I ever reach this place as the one left behind. We have been married 36 years.

    1. Judith, my warmest regards for the celebration of those 36 years...if this is ever needed, I hope, with all the sincerity and love at my disposal, that it will provide some measure of support and comfort.

      Thank you so much for being here. Your "36 years" has measurably brightened a hard evening...I love that testimony, so elegantly profound in its simple statement.

      You give me hope. Thank you.

  15. I think that sometimes the reminiscing of memories can be even better than the original moments--especially when it's in the context of your situation, Andrew. I do hope there are many opportunities taken for this stroll down memory lane with your wife, my friend. Praying for you two!

    1. Beth, well, gosh...please pardon my two-year-late reply!

      And yes, remembering can be even better...context makes it all the richer.

      Your prayers are so appreciated!