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Saturday, December 22, 2007

A blessing from God, Another Lesson Learned

I went today to Andrea's grave. It was as hard as you are thinking. I keep asking God to help me through this, but I realised I have a lot to learn and go through. None of it easy, all I wish I could avoid but knowing I can not. We were the veterans of the chemo room, we had all the answers. People looked to us, and we loved helping those new to the fight. Now I am a rookie, a rookie in the game of grief. I'm learning there is so much I don't know. I now find myself in a new arena, in need of help. I know two friends who unfortunately are veterans of this experience that I already feel drawn towards. They will no doubt be one of my sources of strength. I'm adjusting to the reality that I'm in over my head and my star teammate is not here. Andrea is no long simply not here, she is gone and to make it through this I have to remind myself the physical I see is not a complete picture of reality.
The Lesson

It reminds of Andrea's dream she had right before she found the lump. We were in Alaska and Andrea said she was going for a walk. It was the only time in my life when I was at home that she went on a walk alone. For some reason I did not feel I should go. When she came back she told me this story.

She laid down in a field not far from the house, The grass had grown tall and it was above her head. As she began to pray she was looking at the grass right in front of her face. With the grass in focus she could see the mountains in the distance because they were out of focus and blurry. Then her eyes focused on the mountains and the grass was now out of focus and although it was right in front of her she could not really see it.

She felt God say, See Andrea how you perceive life and what you see depends on what you are focused on.

When she came back home she told this with such excitement, she said I told the Lord, "I will do whatever you ask me." Neither of us realized the magnitude of what God was going to ask. But this experience Andrea had reminds me God is with us, and what I feel is real pain from real relationship. In fact, a relationship God gave me. But I need to keep it in perspective, an eternal perspective. Not to mask the pain or pretend it is not real, or some how wrong, but to know it will be okay...not today but someday.

That is where I am today. I need to have the strength as Andrea did to know that although I feel pain beyond anything I imagined, I know when I shift my focus from the grave to God the pain I feel lessens. It is just that in every moment my eyes are drawn to the grass and I hurt. I asked God to forgive me and help me, but I know there is a long road ahead with many difficult days that can not be passed by. Those steps must be taken. As hard as they are. I just have to remember to take my eyes of what is right before me and remember the Angles words to Mary and Martha,

Matthew 28:5-6
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

This reminds me of another dream of Andrea's. I'm not sure if I wrote about this before. I just can't remember anything right now, so forgive me if this is a repeat. Andrea had this dream in North Carolina one week before her was told her cancer had returned.

It was night, she was standing in a farmers field. The only light was shining from above her and only light the area right around her, maybe just a few feet in front of her. The field was plowed and she was between the rows. She was standing where low plants were growing like beans, maybe ankle high. But ahead of her were rows of tall corn. And it was pitch black between the rows. As she stood there she knew she had to walk into the rows of corn and she was scared. She was nearly frozen with fear and she began to cry, but she knew she had to go. As she took a step, I'm sure only inches at first, the light moved with her, lighting her way, but only where she was. She still could not see what lay ahead, but she could see where she was.

I now feel a portion of the fear she felt, the feeling of being frozen not wanting to go where I know I must go. But I know God will lead me and light my path. I have to learn that this is a step by step process, not without pain, and certainly involving a lot of grief. I guess I was unprepared for this even knowing what we faced. I started to realise the size of the wave that was about to hit me, when everyone kept telling me call anytime, and asking me if I was okay. At first I thought they meant was I okay right then. I think they were trying to warn me, insinuating they saw what I did not see. The pain of losing a spouse. I just lost my mom about a month ago and as hard as that was it pales in comparison to loosing your spouse. I was talking to a friend and I said it is harder because when you lose your spouse you lose the one person you would turn to at a time like this, but they are gone. I guess I was so wrapped up in the fight I did not see it coming. I for sure never thought about the fact that I would be alone to face it. I mean alone as in not having my wife, and my best friend. Well the time has arrived and I think this is only the first wave. After all I am a rookie at this.
The Blessing

I dropped my sister and her family off at the airport and decided to see where Andrea's grave was. As I drove to the cemetery today I saw God had given me a blessing. We were told Andrea's grave was to be in the new part of the cemetery, basically a field next to the maintenance buildings. It was the only regret I had about the cemetery.

Today I found her in this beautiful site.

In the shadow of the tree.

It is in the older part of the cemetery. Just up from a creek. Right next to this horseshoe parking spot, with the bench and the tree. It was a gift from God to a really unnecessary concern on my part. Yet He loved me enough to give me this gift. Just a reminder to me that He hears me and He is with me and He loves me. Just what I needed to hear.

For those of you who could not be here This is a picture from the memorial. We had four pictures one of me and Andrea, Nic and Andrea, Anthony and Andrea, and one of Andrea by herself. They lined the front of the chapel. It was beautiful.

My sister Eileen had the idea of bringing items from Andrea's daily life. That is what's on the table. It was the perfect touch. It captured Andrea's battle and her strength.


  1. Jim, I remember hearing Andrea speak of these dreams more than once. They offer so many lessons. Thank you for the pictures. I am so glad that Andrea's earthly resting place is so beautiful. It looks like a perfect place for you and the boys to visit. Praise the Lord! I'm sure the memorial was lovely. I wish I could have been there. I continue to pray for you all. God's peace be with you, Diane

  2. Jim,
    It is as if God is inviting you, "Come, visit your beloved for a awhile, take refuge in the shade I provide for you." I wish we could have shared in the Memorial with you. Thank you for sharing these details with us. We all continue to lift you up in prayer. God Bless You, Charla

  3. Jim,
    Thank you for sharing the memorial photos. We are glad that it was a beautiful service and that Andrea's burial plot is such a beautiful place for her and you. We continue to pray for you in your Journey through the grief. Brian's mother passed away 2 years ago today and he still is dealing with the grief. We know that you will draw strength from God, as Brian does and those little things you think you will forget may fade but will never be forgotten.
    With Love,
    Chana & Brian Montgomery