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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 172 - Hold Fast Till Morning {FMF}

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

I don't know what the keyword is yet, but I'm writing this while I have the energy. Last night was kind of rough, and I'm tired. (It's REST.)

Yeah, it happened again.

I was in a bit of trouble during the night. Quite a bit of pain, and I was screaming. Literally. The clock seemed to have frozen on 1:18,and all moments coalesced into one.

And in that one moment, I felt my soul leaving my body. Through the side of the right thigh, of all things. I thought you were supposed to leave, like, through the head or something?

There was intense heat there, not a burning, more of a warmth that was designed to make leaving easier.

And I was slipping through that warmth, bound for Heaven.

I refused to go. I said it inside, and I said it in words, maybe not understandable. "No. I'm not going."

I should say I was tempted. I should say that I was drawn by the thought that soon I'd see Jesus, face-to-face. That the pain would be over, that the humiliation of a failing body would end. Here and now.

But I wasn't tempted, and I said no.

Why? Why not let go, and fall into God' embrace? I've been told, let it go, you've suffered enough. Give yourself over to the Lord. Be at peace.

Why not rest?

Peace really sucks. It's boring. Harps and angels' wings. Give me a rifle and a full bandolier, mate. I am still in this fight.

Maybe Valhalla is indeed the true Heaven, and Hell is reserved for those who die in bed.

Sure, I have to go sometime. But it'll be on my terms, and God has to accept that. When I walk through the Pearly Gates it'll be rifle in hand, pistol on my hip, knife in my boot, and enough ammunition to make Pancho Villa green with envy.

The saints and angels will fall silent, step aside, and look away. They have to earn the right to watch me pass.

I'll walk up to God, look him in the eye, and say, "You got another war needs winning? I'm ready. Here am I; send me."

Tempting to try to bring nobility to this. To say, well, I still have a job to do here. That there is witnessing left to accomplish, and comfort to give. Or even to say it's the principle of the thing, not to give up because I never learned to spell kwiit, much less do it.

But that would be only part of the truth, and on this occasion a small part. The biggest reason was Strawberry the Baby Bullmastiff. (For those who don't know Strawberry's story, you can read it by clicking here, and see some pictures of her here.)

You see, Strawberry is getting happy. She's putting on weight, and growing. She's learning how to play, and she's learning how to trust.

And she's learning how to love.

She give Mastiff Hugs, which are pretty breathtaking, as she puts her forelegs around my neck, and holds on tight. She's pretty strong. So it's breathtaking. Get it?

If I went, whom would she hug like that? Would I leave this friendly soul waiting for something that would not come again?

So I told God NO, and pulled, literally pulled my spirit back into my body, and I anchored it there with pain. I embraced that pain, my friend and guardian, to keep me safe from the temptation of Heaven.

I held onto the hope of another sunrise.

All to give a friend a chance to hug me again, which she did this morning.

She hugged me extra hard, because she knew.

So I'll shoot my way out of Paradise, to get back here. I don't need rest. I need a good hard fight.

Love wins, even over Heaven.

The musical inspiration for this post is Chris Cornell's "Till The Sun Comes back Around"

And here are the lyrics -

"'Til The Sun Comes Back Around"
Come to me in my darkest hour
When the sun goes down
And the fact that I never wandered
On unfamiliar ground
Maybe I'm walking on the wild
That can never leave me out

So I hold tight to the edge of the night
And I fight on and wait for the light
And I hold fast to the here and the now
Till the sun comes back around

How could I let so many miles
Come between our hearts
Does it beat for the loving side
When the fighting starts

Taught me well to unleash hell
But not how to shut it down

So I hold tight to the edge of the night
And I fight on and wait for the light
And I hold fast to the here and the now
Till the sun comes back around

Thoughts of you cut through the doom
As I stand alone on this wall
If I die, tell me will it matter
Whichever side I have on the fall?
No my dear, it won't matter at all
Oh my dear, it won't matter

Thoughts that flash in the calm
That casts long shadows of doubt
No matter how far down your heart
They just spill our lives

So I hold tight to the edge of the night
And I fight on and wait for the light
And I hold fast to the here and the now

Hope that tomorrow is found
And I'm standing here
When the sun comes back around

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.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. so glad that you are here fighting to love yet another day my friend. thank you for this reflection.

    1. janel, thank you so much for being here. Honestly, the presence of my friends, and their support, are holding me up to give me the energy to make the choice to go on...if that makes sense?

  2. I'm so glad you're still here, Andrew. You're definitely a fighter. I told my oldest son about your website and I've bought your book Faith in the Night. He wants us to read it together. He is 25 and has muscular dystrophy and over the past year has been pretty much confined to a wheelchair. He does have his ups and downs and fights with depression, but for the most part he trusts in God and is actually helping a friend who was suicidal earlier this year. Anyway, I don't know why I'm telling you all this except to say that I think your book will be very helpful to them. May God bless you, and I hope you have a better night with some relief from pain.

    1. Gayl, you may not know just how much your comment means to me...in a few words, it means the world. That I might be able help your son with my words...gosh. I am overwhelmed and humbled.

      Thank you so much for sharing this. Truly.

  3. Oh Andrew,
    You big softie, you. :) I bet Strawberry is ten times more amazing than you describe.
    I believe this was more of a reassurance to you that there is an out-should you finally need it. That you are welcome to keep fighting, but the ref is calling the game closely with you in mind. He's laying on the mat counting to 9 every time until at last you are ready to lay back in the rest of a K. O.
    Until then, Strawberry is going to be licking your face, spurring you on, round after round.
    And we? We will cheer you on the entire time.
    Until you post again, try to catch your breath. 😊

    1. I hear the cheers, Tammy, and their aural energy is the wave that pushes me to my feet, while Strawberry pulls.

      She is indeed amazing. She's developing her singing voice, which in two days has gone from falsetto to alto.Still a klutz when she walks!

      Love back, my friend. Thank you for being here.

  4. I enjoy all your raw honesty and transparent thoughts even if they might seem "irreverent". I saw that happen to a man recently who was dying. He kept pounding his fist on his bed saying, "not yet!" he spoke harshly I suppose to angels coming to get him. He would not let go until he felt all was done. I admire that!! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Summer, I had to laugh at this, because I am told that I am delivering right and left crosses and shouting, "No!"

      Letting go just isn't in the cards. I always want to see the next dawn.

      Thank you so much for being here!

  5. Okay, Merc, let's get this straight. The only rifle in your hand these days is the pen of a ready writer (Ps 45.1) or a .22 to kill a rattlesnake there in the NM dessert. I don't want to disillusion you but when you enter those gates? The only armament you will have are the arms of Jesus. But because you are a Merc, I get your words. I get your heart. I get your guts. And, I love you in spite of them or perhaps because of them!!! Keep fighting the good fight. You'll know when to lay it down. xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Good point, SUsan! And thank you. I probably won't know when to lay it down, though. Ain't quite that smart (the term 'dumber than a box of rocks' has been used more than once to describe me). So I'll have to be told. Forcefully.

      xoxoxoxo and LOTS of waggy tails!

  6. I'll keep my soft rebukes to myself because this battle is between you and Him. In the meantime, know that you are held tightly in prayer.

    1. June, I appreciate that...instead of wrestling with an angel, I seem to have chosen someone else to fight...and I have a feeling I'm overmatched!

      But that's OK. It's a good, hard fight. I like that. Maybe God does too?

      And I so appreciate the prayers!

  7. God knows Strawberry needs you and the end of your days on earth are not yet, for when the time comes there will be absolutely nothing you will be able to do to fight it dear friend. I have been concerned this week with your short posts. I'm glad you are still here to bring us tales from beyond and tales about Strawberry. I'm sure Barbara is grateful as well :) Prayers always

    1. Christy, thank you so much for your kind and understanding words...and your faith.

      I'm glad to be here, too. Today Strawberry got to spend some time playing with Barb's dachshund Bray. It was so funny, and I was so glad to see it!

      Thanks for being here, my friend.

  8. Andrew...I never know what I am going to read when I open a post from your blog!!! Hearing that Strawberry is doing well, and loves to give you those great big hugs warms my heart; but hearing about your bouts of...well, let's just say, you have a very strong will that you want to be able to stay around - for Strawberry?! I sense a desire to stay...PERIOD! And, who wouldn't want to stick around to complete the assignment give by God. I love the visuals you paint...I can just picture you running up to those Pearly Gates, when YOU are ready to do so!

    Thanks for opening your heart and soul for us to read! Still praying for you and Barb!

    1. Oh, Barbara, thank you for this! Your words and love are truly a gift.

      And yes, I do want to stay...PERIOD. For Strawberry, and the others, for my readers (boy that makes me feel like a Real Live Writer!).

      And for my wife, who is very brave but who, I think, needs me here as long as possible. More on that in another post.

    2. Well, Andrew, I must say...you ARE a real live writer!!!

  9. Ahhhh, friend. Your words still convey your fighter's spirit. I can only imagine the pain that you're enduring. But I love that there's Strawberry to give you hope, to fill you with love and to give you hugs. God knows the number of your days, and He knows what you still need to do here. Know that I have—and continue to—pray for you day and night.

    Thank you for all you give here and in all the places you contribute your words.

    1. I so appreciate the prayers, Jeanne. That means the world to me.

      Strawberry was so very unexpected, and she's come to a kind of massive and soft dominance in life. She's very quiet, (but has a nice singing voice she's learning to use), very pleasant on-leash, and exceptionally clean.

      And very, very kind.

      Thank you so much for being here,my friend!

  10. How can you make me laugh and bring me to tears all at once? After reading this I have two thoughts. One, I am sure God "gets" you and your heart completely--and He treasures every bit of your fight because He made you to fight.

    I am only beginning to understand your back story, so I am piecing it together as I read. The value of Strawberry, God cares for her too. You word it so well through your care for her.

    Second, even though I only know you virtually, I felt compelled to pray for you as I would a dear friend.

    May you fight well as God give you strength.

    1. Cheryl, thank you so much for this. I sure hope He does 'get' me...otherwise when I get to Heaven He'll need years of therapy after our first meeting. (Boy, do I hope God has a sense of humour!)

      Strawberry, I think, was definitely placed here by God's hand. For her, because we are GOOD at taking care of mistreated and sick dogs (she wasn't in good shape on arrival)...but it goes beyond that. She's clearly important to me, and she's becoming something of a central, happy figure in the larger 'pack'. Everyone likes her, and she's respectful and friendly to all.

      I so appreciate the prayers, Cheryl. Tennyson, in his poem "The Death Of Arthur" (the last poem in the cycle "The Idylls Of The King") said that the world is bound round the feet of God by prayers, as by golden chains. I believe this to be so.

      Thank you so much for being here.

  11. Andrew, this just made me laugh, which is probably a completely inappropriate response. I think it's the part about Heaven being boring. I have this feeling that Heaven is going to blow all of our minds. Perhaps there's even a shooting range. :)

    I'm glad you're still here, my friend.

    1. Marie, laughing IS appropriate. I mean, what's the point of dying if you can't see the funny side of it?

      And I think, yes, there will be guns in Heaven...how else could it be called Heaven, anyway?

      Unless, of course, God leases part of Texas for us-all shootin' types.

      Thanks so much for being here (and for your terrific blog post today!)

  12. Hoping this weekend is giving you and Barbara some respite, friend ...

    1. Linda, thanks...today was sure different. Had a bit of a reaction to pain meds. Some really weird hallucinations that I'll describe in another post. But I'm still here!

      And I'm glad you're here too, my friend.

  13. Strawberry sounds like just what you needed now. So glad you can hug each other, Andrew!

    1. She is, Carrie. And she just gave me a Power-Mastiff-Hug to pass on to you!

  14. Dear Andrew,

    I'm so sorry I'm only just now leaving this comment. I read your post on Thursday night, but my brain was so tired from my therapy appointment and the rest of my day that I just couldn't get my words together. I am so glad you are still with us! I know we barely know each other, but I feel like I've gotten to know you through your words and our interactions at the FMF party on Thursdays. I have to admit that I laughed out loud at the image of you strolling into heaven all kitted up with guns, knives, and a bandolier! You are definitely a fighter and your fighting spirit has been an inspiration to me during some of my dark nights of the soul. I'll be honest that I wish I could bottle some of your fight and take a few sips when I'm feeling like fighting isn't worth it. Your description of Strawberry's hugs made me smile. I SO miss having dogs! When my hubby and I met, he had two cats, so I always joke that I married into cats! LOL! Please give Miss Strawberry a hug and a good long pet from me and know that you are in my prayers daily. God bless you, my friend!


  15. Andrew, only you can make me smile, feel tearful and want to laugh out loud all at the same time as I picture a Western-style shoot-out between you and the Grim Reaper. What a fighting spirit you have! It's a wonderful gift. God knows you inside out and I'm convinced He has a terrific sense of humour. He's probably smiling fondly, saying, "That's my boy!" as you resist the final rest that clings to you like a limpet.
    And heaven, how can it be boring? Unless we buy into popular images of strumming harps and sitting around on clouds. That's not what happens, in my humble opinion. I think heaven will be beyond our wildest dreams and have areas tailor-made for our specific enjoyment, because God wants to bring joy and pleasure to His children. I imagine we will get to do the things we love best and be with the people we love most.
    Meanwhile, I am also truly grateful to see you here, for the stay of execution that means more words on a page (as well as the horrid downside of more weeks of excruciating pain), and the way you inspire and fire our thoughts by sharing your own. Thank you for fighting on. May Strawberry keep hugging you breathlessly while you enjoy her endless love for you. Praying for you and Barbara as you navigate your way through these arduous days. May God give strength to His warrior friend.

  16. Andrew, I'm glad I came back and read this post. For some reason, I picture an indignant child saying "No I will not go." You made me smile. Continually praying. I did link up and am in the 51 spot.