Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can't heal."

This weekend was very revealing to me.  I left Saturday morning to go back to Rancho Cordova to a reunion for the employees of my former college. It was a tremendous event, full of great love and friendship.  We had people come from Florida, SOCAL and Colorado. 

As I stood in that reunion room and looked around the room to see unconditional friendship and love I felt overwhelmed.  I was very near tears many times.  I wanted Gary to be there with me.....he went through 8 years at the College with me and supporting me and our students.  There were times when the College's food closet was empty with no donations and he would go to the store and refill the closet.  He took pride in supporting whatever was needed. 

Then, as planned, this morning I returned to our hometown church where we worshipped for 8 years.  We always loved those people who loved the Lord.  When I walked in, I was greeted by the worship team and I felt so at home.  At first, it was nice greeting everyone but things changed as the worship service started. 

I have been in that sanctuary with Gary during good and not-so-good times.  As his brain started failing, the church supported us and loved us when Gary would speak out inappropriately during the Pastor's sermon.  The Pastor was always very patient with him.  The week before we moved to Southern California, I had the opportunity to tell our story.  Now, I sat there alone. Thoughts and feelings flooded my brain and soul.

I felt the deepest sense of melancholy for the loss of my husband's brain to Frontotemporal Degeneration.  I felt the love of the Lord and a peace that transcends sadness.  It was holy roller coaster.

I took some notes so I would remember to formally recognize my feelings.  It was as if, due to moving away, I had separated myself from the fact that life was changing.  We were so busy moving, finding caregivers and performing at a new job that I separated myself from reality.  Something about sitting in that room brought it down to reality.  As the congregation sang in praise, tears rolled from my eyes.  They were grief tears.  I refused to really lose it as I knew I probably wouldn't stop crying. 

Even though I live every day with the reality that our lives will never be the same and that my husband is dying.....I somehow thought it would all change back to the old reality.  I sat there and thought, "I should not be here without him."  The survivor guilt was demanding every emotion I had to feel.

I asked myself, "Why did God bring me here today?" Was it to help me have these realizations?  Was it heal me?  The very next song contained the following words:

"Earth has not sorrow that heaven can't heal."  Wow.  God is amazing.  What perfect words for healing my soul.

On the flight home I felt exhausted.  Loving and grief take a lot out of a person.  I slept for a few minutes and when I got off the plane, I almost gasped for air.  I felt so empty....perhaps if I took in enough oxygen I would feel normal

So, knowing that I am leaving in the morning on a business trip, I took our dog to the kennel and headed for Gary's place.  He was eating dinner when I arrived and he sort of smiled at me but certainly made eye contact.  I noticed that he was clammy again.  The old issues were back.  He was not overdressed but was sweating.  Sure enough, during the meal, he had another tremor.  Apparently the CIPRO did not do the trick.  I reported this to the technician on staff and asked her to call the Hospice Nurse in the morning to ask for someone to look at him.

He ate dessert.  As soon as he was done, I noticed an increase in noise in the room.  I turned around to see about 20 small children and their parents descend upon the room. A church group comes on Sunday night to play in the room, play games and entertain the residents! The youth was magical.  I again became tearful because so many of the residents were lighting up and smiling during a time when they are normally heading off to bed.  I was standing next to Gary and stroking his hair.  I noticed one of the older children staring at us.  I turned and looked at Gary and saw what she did.  He was staring into the room with a very scary look on his face.  I can see why no children were running to him to engage him. 

In past days, Gary would have been on the floor with them and serving as the center of attention.  Now, he is the old man in the wheelchair who is eerily scary.  My heart was breaking. 

I felt as if he was probably enjoying the frivolity but I also knew that I had to leave to pack for my trip.  I turned his chair so he could see the activity and said goodbye.  The look on his face was a cross between terror and sadness.  I thought he would cry.  I grabbed him and held him as best I could in the wheelchair.  He seemed to relax.  I left.

I looked in the rearview mirror as I backed out of the parking space.  I, too had a cross between terror and sadness.  I sobbed in the car...for about 45 seconds.  That is all I allowed myself.  There will be time for that later. 


  1. Ada, you know life is a classroom. It takes so much courage to see this inch by inch and bear it. You're releasing your most precious person you've ever known. Your strength is remembering the amazing moments and standing the pain, too.

    You are one of the strongest, resilient people I know. This is a deeper sorrow then you've ever known. It's been a beautiful adventure of love, fun, inspiration and supportive.

    You never imagined anything else. This is a devastating loss. You're braving it more strength and honesty than anyone I can imagine.

    At the same time you're holding onto your love and past, he is slowly letting go. You KNOW he loves you and wants the best for you. He knew, earlier in this process, that you would be by his side. He probably felt bad that you'd suffer this way, when he knew what was ahead.

    You're being present for this is beyond excruciating. PLEASE mix some rest and tears to the gutsy way you're being strong. Acceptance and grief are part of the process. It won't be easy or fun, but it's important to take good care of yourself. It's how you can best be available to love Gary.

    Your faith runs deep like his does. One day he'll be free from suffering in glory we can't comprehend. Your loss is about YOU. He's well cared for without the body working like before.

    Ada, your journey is remarkable. It's real, painful, and filled with shiny moments. We share this, from a distance, with you. We love you and send prayers for Gary and everyone who loves him, especially you.

    Hang in there. We know this is a life-lesson for you. On the other side, you'll be informed by this experience and can help others cope. I only hope the love surrounding you carries some part of your burden.

    Love you-


    1. Cass, you have always been able to say just the right words to me.thank you for your friendship and love!

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