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Friday, January 25, 2008

A Shared Pain, A Shared Blessing

Tonight is the end of a long day, actually a long couple of days. Last night two friends came over and helped me pack away Andrea's clothes. Although having her clothes in the house had not bothered me, knowing they were being put away, hit me far harder then I thought. I guess it was another way to say she was not coming back. As hard as it was, it had to be done. Tonight was another difficult day for other reasons but no less hard on me. Life has been harder then I ever imagined. For those of you who know me you know I'm actually a happy person. I like to laugh and whistle. I have been doing far too little of either this past year. It is 2 am and I have another headache and hurting eyes so I have decided enough is enough. Andrea would not want me laying around in such grief, and that is what I began to fear, a grief left unchecked. By now Andrea in her Texas tough attitude, would tell me, "Jim it is time to get going. Where's your faith?

I even have had difficulty working or finding any interest in work. In fact I was on a trip this week to a conference and as I listened to the conversations I thought I could care less about who is getting what job or what the latest was on this or that. I thought this was once my passion, my life and I was good at it. Now there is no salt in the food, life held no excitement. I did not like that and I know Andrea would not have liked me feeling this way. I looked at myself and I knew it was time to move away from this grief, the pit I fall into far too easily. I have prayed and asked God to help me. I have felt that was a prayer that could not and would not be answered for my grief was set in stone, predetermined in its length and depth. But tonight I decided to no longer freely give into despair any more. I say freely because in a way I have run to my grief hoping if I gave in it would somehow satisfy the pain. I deliberately put myself in situations to force the tears and the pain. It worked; I could step into grief in a moments notice. It was a strange way to barter with suffering but I think I was the only one holding up my end of the bargain.

I know many of you think it has not been that long since Andrea died and far too soon to think about moving on. I will say this, and I pray it is not taken as harsh words. My grief did not start on Dec 17th, it just moved to another level of reality. I have lived with this weight for over 4 years but the last 2 1/2 years were spent under an ever increasing anticipation of the grief that awaited me. And to be quite frank, I feel I have given grief its fair share of my life. You need only go back and read the blog from the start to know my grief did not just begin. I don't mean I refuse to be sad or to miss Andrea I just pray I will be spared the depth of grief I have been experiencing. I just want to simply miss her. I know there is no checklist to complete grief, although the pilot in me would love one. I have cried all I know how to, I have said goodbye to Andrea at two memorials. I have cleaned out the closet, her dresser, and I feel comfortable going to work. The house is settled into a slight routine. That is if you count the Pizza Hut delivery guy routine :)

After I thought about that I knew it was time for me to tell you what is going on in my life. I share this because as one friend told me, "It was you Jim who invited us along on your journey by writing this blog." Okay so I accept that responsibility and I thank God for all of you, for taking time out of your life to walk a part of this journey with us and for all the prayers that have been spoken for Andrea, I and the boys.

So here it goes, you may want to take a seat as you read this next part.

I want to tell you all how blessed I am that God has blessed me with another wonderful woman in my life. Her name is Ginger Gilbert. She is the woman Andrea and I had been emailing for a year after Ginger lost her husband, Troy in an F-16 crash in Iraq. I have spoken of her in previous blogs. Ginger was dealing with a depth of pain I could not understand at the time, while Andrea and I were in the throws of our second battle with cancer, all of us trying to understand our life that had suddenly changed, all of us seeking God for strength. We have been friends for a year and then quite unexpectedly the Lord turned our friendship into an amazing relationship.

Troy was a loving father and dedicated husband but most of all a man who loved and served God. He and Ginger had a marriage very similar to Andrea and me. I'm thankful Ginger has loved so deeply, yet I grieve with her as I understand the pain that comes from losing such a love. She is a godly woman, so tender-hearted, full of so much love for me. I can not put into words the depth of our feelings. Had I asked God for her, I could not have imagined such a loving woman, who understands me in ways I did not even know to ask, who wipes my tears with her words, and gives me hope in a life ahead. My prayers for her would have fallen far short of the perfection God has blessed me with. She has helped me walk the difficult steps of adjusting to being a widower. She has listened to me cry, and given me reason to smile. We share a special bond built upon a shared grief I hope none of you ever experience. Most importantly we share a faith in Christ that guides both of us into this relationship, a relationship that is orchestrated by God. We love each other deeply and we have begun making plans for our future. Please pray for us as we continue this relationship.

She has five absolutely beautiful children and lives in Phoenix. I know this seems way too sudden to all of you. But I also know that when God moves and does miracles, He chooses to do so in His own timing. Though it may seem awfully quick, Ginger and I have suffered for a long time and gratefully accept His blessing of our relationship with total peace and confidence.

Please pray for all the children, they our number one concern. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for Ginger and me as we seek guidance from God. I have spoken to both Nic and Anthony as well as Andrea's family prior to sending out this blog. A blog I write with a rare smile. I smile as I think of what God is doing in our lives. I smile for being able to share this wonderful news with you all.

In Christ, Jim


  1. Jim, I look forward to meeting you and seeing God work through this amazing story that only He could write. Ginger's friend - Angela

  2. Hi, Uncle Jimmy! I read your post last night before I went to sleep and can't stop thinking about it. I think it is so awesome that God has blessed you so abundantly. I'm sure it must have been difficult for you to share this huge "announcement" and I have to say how nice it is that you are so honest. God Bless and I look forward to continuing to check in.

  3. Wow Jim this is amazing. God is a God of surprises. While I was surprised at first I immediately felt that it was "good". We've been thinking about you so much and praying for you. Haluk called you this weekend and tried to skype but you were offline. maybe we can make a skyp appointment soon?! We love you. Wendy

  4. Oh Jim, God is so gracious and good. I am overwhelmingly struck with the thought that this is EXACTLY what I would desire for my Godly husband if I were to be glorified before him. Randy and I will faithfully pray as you have asked. May our God richly bless you and lead those you love as you walk humbly with Him. We are so very happy for you, Ginger, and mostly, all the children!! It's a very, very BEAUTIFUL thing.
    We love you,
    Lanie for all the Thompsons