John and I have been close friends for over 30 years. He is a talented, gifted preacher and a unique man of God. He and Debbie were passionately in love. They raised four great kids and Debbie was a great Mom and wife. She fought a valiant battle against ovarian cancer but in a short two years she was gone. John is currently the pastor of Creekside Community Church in Minnesota. This is his latest blog on their church website. I want you to read it carefully and then go and hug the one you love. ~ Pastor Ken
Feb 14th...Valentine's Day
It’s been 6 months since my wife Deb, went home to be with the Lord. We were married 40 years. I wish I could say that it’s getting easier. But that isn’t true. I can still remember being bedside when she took her last breath, along with the sensation of her hand going limp in mine, when she passed. There are some things you never forget. I have learned a lot about grief during this time. I always thought that grief was the enemy, when loss is really the villain here. Grief is the mechanism God gives us to process loss. Grief is normal, natural and necessary. Still, there are steps in this process that are difficult to endure. For example, denial is not the first stage of grief, but a feeling that comes and goes quite unexpectedly. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, hoping that all of this is just a bad dream. But, if I slide my hand over to the cold, empty side of the bed, the reality of grief quickly takes hold.
I have experienced loss before this. My parents, brother and my in-laws have all passed away. However, losing your spouse is different. Through all those experiences, my wife and I walked together, holding each other up. Now I walk this path of grief, alone. I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me, but to help you think about life, love and second chances. If the Lord came to me and said, “You can have your wife back, but you must be willing to relive all the difficult times of your marriage.” I would do it, without hesitation. I realize that some of you are struggling with hurtful marriages. There are times when you believe that ending it, would be far better than living with your pain. Believe me, that’s not true. It’s far better to fight hard for your marriage, then to surrender. There is no victory in giving up, only defeat and sadness. You might be wondering where the Lord is, in all of this. He is right here with me. He never left. Jesus is the reason why I have been able to keep going. One verse that has been a frequent source of comfort to me is Ps. 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Today is Valentine’ Day, so early this morning, I went to the cemetery. I brought a single, red rose and placed it at my wife’s grave. I stood there a while and cried there a while. Then I asked the Lord to hold Deb close, since I no longer can. I also asked the Lord to give me the strength to turn and leave. The strength to keep going forward into a new and different life, the likes of which, I can’t imagine. If you’re reading this on Valentine’s Day or any other day, don’t miss your chance to say, ‘I love you’ to your spouse. Write a letter, do something, anything, while you still have the opportunity. Don’t wait! Time is NOT on your side. Happy Valentine’ Day, Sweetheart. I love you and miss you, more than words can ever say.