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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lessons From Friends

Well I know it has been a while since I posted a blog. I have been feeling a lot better. In fact I went into work today and told my boss I was ready to get back to work. As I walked into work today I felt like I wanted to go to work today, and that was a first. When I thought back to the past month I read this blog I wrote on 22nd January. I as read this I realized just how tired I was.

I'm sitting in another airport awaiting another delayed flight. So I decided to take the time to write an update. In my mind I have several things I want to write about but I think this will be my last update until late next week. I'm so very tired right now and I need a break from all this. I need to spend some time with Anthony, and just get some sleep. I have had enough training as a squadron commander to know I am on the edge, so exhausted all I want to do is sleep. I have had three trips to the east coast in one week on top trying to work, and feeling I just need to get my feet under me all the while knowing my sons need me to talk to them. But as I wait for my flight now delayed for four hours I felt I could use the time to write a little.

It is now three days since Andrea's memorial in North Carolina. I have waited to write about it until I allowed the events to sink in to my mind. It was a perfect memorial. So many friends who stood with us during Andrea's toughest fight. Of course there were difficult times as I went by our old house and drove the streets we drove together.

I can't say enough for all the help in setting up Andrea's memorial, our church home, The Lord's Table, Sharon, Pastor Charles, Pastor Wilson, Dave, Karen, Kristen, Barbara, and many more I'm sure. I struggled as I packed to come to North Carolina, I struggled the morning of the service as I prayed with our friends, held hands with the hands that Andrea held. I struggles as I laid out Andrea's personal belongings and pictures of her life at the Church were we once walked in, where we sat and prayed, took communion and held each other. But when I got up to speak, it all went away. Although I had no words planned, I just spoke about Andrea. I do not know what I said and I have no record of my final words about my wife. But when it was done I felt a weight off my shoulders. Later that day as I went out to dinner I thought that was the last event in my life involving Andrea. That is sad but it feels freeing in a way. The weeks leading up to the memorial had me busy thinking about Andrea, what I would say, and the logistics of the day. In a way Andrea was still a part of my daily life even though it was not in the physical sense, she still was a big part of my life. Suddenly I realized I was done. I had no reason for Andrea to be on my mind other then to remember her. I had nothing to do for her. Does this sound strange or cruel? I do not intend it to be. As sad as it is it felt good. I was freer to move on. I felt Andrea telling me "Go." As I told her as she passed, "Andrea it is okay, go to where you long to be, hear God tell you, Well done good and faithful servant." With that she passed. And with the end of the memorial I felt Andrea tell me "Now you go Jim." When I walked into dinner that night my friend said "You look like your are glowing." I guess I was, I had defeated the fear I had of that day, I had said my peace about my wife, I had said goodbye to Andrea and now I was free to just remember her. I just want to remember Andrea with a smile on my face instead of a crushing pain and unstoppable tears.

Leigh, Diane, Gina and Lisa spoke at the memorial representing the "Chemo girls." An unbelievable group of woman who surrounded Andrea and gave a normalcy to life in the chemo room. A gift whose value can not be measured in terms of this world. Like Cynthia in AK who took Andrea to chemo while I was deployed and later God continued to provide woman for Andrea as we moved to San Antonio. Woman like Darla and Amy and Kathy, who befriended Andrea and gave he the gift of "girl time" in her last months. All of them stepped out in faith and befriended someone who had a terminal illness. I have thought a lot about this group of women for they have made a huge impact on my life. As I sat week after week and watched them minister to my wife, I witnessed how someone loves another human. For me, and I guess most, men the concept of love is reserved to his wife, and mostly involves the physical aspect of that relationship. Hence the inability to say I love you to another woman or God forbid another man. But what I learned by watching them have, was I could love someone other then my wife. I could love someone and care for them as I cared for Andrea. My ability to express myself in my blog is a result of this experience. I learned my feelings were not reserved for my wife alone it taught me how to love my neighbor. A biblical command I knew but never fully understood. I will forever be indebted to this group of women who met the needs of my wife, and who taught me how to love someone.

Here is a prayer from Andrea's journal entry written September 2007

Lord, I just know you will bless those who do things for others that are right in your sight. So I pray your blessings on Jim and all the chemo ladies that helped me. Especially Jim who continues to care for me. I love you Lord, Andrea

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