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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Monday, March 17, 2008


Today marks the third month anniversary (not really the word I want to use) of Andrea's death. Seems forever ago when we were at the ICU but then again it seems like Andrea was just here. Time really loses it's meaning after such a shocking event as death. It is hard to describe. Anyway, Anthony and I are at the San Antonio airport waiting for our 11:36 flight to LAX, it is 3:30. How we doing? We have missed two connections out of LAX to Hawaii so far but I think we have a chance now. We have a 21/2 hr layover in LAX. Plenty of time...right. Our original flight had an engine failure and divert into Tucson. Don't hear about that very often. So I have a little extra time on my hands and I decided to post a blog entry.

Anyway we are off for spring break and our good friends the Duvall's blessed us with the flight and a chance to get away for a week. I'm looking forward to being out of the house and just being with family, for that is what the Duvall's are to me, family. I know in a way it will be difficult to see them without Andrea. The Duvall's were our friends, Andrea and mine, and now it is just me. I know the void will be obvious and painful but I also know I will be with friends who love me like few in my life. I know the joy I will feel and the fun we have will be tempered by Andrea's absence, but I also know it will be okay. It is part of living and it can not be changed only endured. I also know how much Andrea would have wanted to go on this trip. She loved the sun, warm weather and beautiful flowers. This would have been Andrea's dream to go visit the Duvall's in Hawaii especially their two girls. I will miss her this week. I will try to post some pictures on the blog while we are there.

I wrote this journal entry after Andrea and I spoke at the Cancer survivors banquet in Goldsboro NC. This was a significant event for Andrea as public speaking was her #1 fear in life. So when they asked her to speak I was somewhat taken back when Andrea immediately said yes. Her only request was that we both speak. She said we had done everything together since this started so she wanted us to speak together.

As I read this entry and typed it today I realized how much I need this right now. I have been struggling this weekend with the loneliness of my life. I guess I needed to read my own words to remember what I have gained. It reminds me of Andrea's moment as she laid in the field and looked at the mountains and the grass in front of her, sometimes life depends on what you focus on. Hope it helps you in some way.

This past Thursday Andrea and I spoke at the cancer survivors banquet. There were many significant things about that night.

1. Andrea was still alive
2. We were speaking as survivors
3. It was a large crowd and Andrea and I both felt our job after the Air Force would involve speaking. We did not know how or to whom so when we walked into the room and saw all the people it was as if we saw a vision complete
4. The words that left our mouths seemed "normal" but the response came back was disproportionate. It was God's hand and it was awesome to see God use what seemed as nothing to us as such a blessing to those in the room

It made me think of how great this experience has been. Yes it has been hard very hard in fact. We have faced some very difficult times and we have had to stay faithful in spite of bad tumor markers, scans and reports that told us Andrea's condition was not improving. It has been a test of faith like no other and it is relentless. Everyday you fight it. It can be tiring but that just allows to cast your burdens on Him and to rest in the shadow of His wings. It allows you to live the words of the Psalms, it allows God to become real in your life.

The other day I thought of this in a different light. Not at what we had to suffer and how others must look at us and say, "I'm glad I'm not the Ravella's." I thought what would I have missed had I lived my life without this trial.

1. The closeness of God
2. Hearing God's voice
3. Praying and feeling His presence in our room
4. Letting go and being caught
5. Seeing the body of Christ in action and being on the receiving end of such love.
6. Being so close to God you could feel His hand on you
7. Finding out what's really important
8. Experiencing the words of the Bible and finding them to be true
9. Loving my wife, not for what I get from her but as my partner in life
10 Becoming more of a spiritual leader
11 The absolute joy of living in the will of God. A joy that never disappoints
12 The joy of having your steps order by God
13 Having the creator of all things hear and answer your prayers. The smaller the better
14 Looking back and seeing and knowing it was all God
15 Being loved by God, feeling it and knowing it
16 Learning that spiritual healing is more important then physical healing. One is eternal one is temporary.
17 Feeling insignificant and feeling like you are the only one that matters, all at the same time.
18 Watching Andrea witness in public, but more in private
19 Watching God work in your weakness
20 Ending everyday with God

If I could add to this list today I would add the following blessings:

21 Andrea did not suffer as she should have with her cancer. No unending pain of bone cancer, it never spread to her brain, and she was comfortable to the end and alert all but the last hours.

22 The boys and I were able to say goodbye, just us.

23 This is my greatest blessing. I had no regrets as Andrea died. I did not have a need to apologise for my past. We both knew how much we loved each other. We both knew we had placed our trust in Christ. We both had grown in our faith, we had talked about this day and we were okay. I did not have any regrets for misplaced priorities in my life. I'm thankful for bosses and a job that allowed me to be with Andrea in her treatment. I'm thankful I do not regret working instead of being with Andrea. But the thing I am most thankful for is there was nothing I had to say to Andrea. We knew how we felt and we expressed our love to each other every day. There was no need to "catch up" in the last minutes, leaving a feeling of missed opportunities or regret. That is a gift that has no price. That is what is truly "Priceless."

If I had one piece of advice from all this it would be to take the time to tell your spouse how much you love them, not sometimes, not only on birthday's or holidays like Valentine's day all the time. Do it just because. Leave a card or a note when you leave for work or go to the store. Don't let society, the movies/TV or this world dictate your priorities. Send flowers just because. Wish them a happy Monday and take them to dinner. Spend time alone if you have kids. Make plans to go out once a week. Go on a date with the one you fell in love with. Remember how you ached when you were apart even for a day and thank God you don't have the ache of being separated for the rest of your life. Don't be so practical that you forget to be in love. Be spontaneous, be a little silly and laugh together. Kiss them when they don't expect it, hug them when they need it.

Live life so you won't regret your choices. In the end there is little that matters. Your faith and relationship with God, then your marriage and your family, then your work. Many of us say this is our priority. My advice is let your life reflect it, it has to be more then just a slogan. Enjoy the love of your spouse, enjoy each other. Sacrifice for each other. I told Ginger my only competition I will have with her is to show her I love her more. So far she is kicking my butt. But I have the rest of my life to catch her, and I intend on spending everyday trying to express to her how much I love her and how thankful I am to God for blessing me with a woman who loves me so deeply and for 7 beautiful kids.

1 comment:

  1. Your words ALWAYS back up how you live. Thank you for being you and for loving me (and Andrea) the way you do. You bless me daily! Love you, Ginger