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More Stories - The Way We Were

Stressed over the holidays?  Trying to get everything just right?  Worrying over relatives that you feel put you down, or that intimidate you?  Depressed, repressed and generally obsessed? 

Put it in perspective.  Read this absolutely beautiful story from my cousin Ginny, Uncle Bob Hine's daughter.  She writes:  

"Dear Bess,  I was going to send my story ages ago, but as always I've managed to procrastinate to the last moment.  The story is a true one; initially I wrote it for my (then) mother-in-law to comfort her.  I'd appreciate it if you would let me know what you think of my story.  Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy New Year."

Ginny, I cannot tell you how much I like it.   It's a testimony to courage and the power of faith and prayer, and a lesson in acceptance; a true tribute to the human spirit at its finest.  Thank you for this lovely Christmas gift.

A Christmas Message
by Ginny Lambert

Many of us experience gray periods, the spirit lags and the attitude becomes apathetic and depressed.  The holidays seem to enhance this "dismalness".  There's not enough time, there's not enough money, and sometimes, there doesn't even seem to be enough faith.  More often than not you find yourself shopping amidst a crowd of people, being jostled from one part of the store to the next, standing in long lines with tired feet, and after all that hassle and the presents are brought home you find that you've run out of wrapping paper and/or scotch tape.

But very soon now, the Christ child will be born.  Because of him we were all given a wondrous miracle.  Because of him God's love was made real.  And it is because of that love that there is no death in dying.

Although the holidays sometimes carry a touch of sadness for me they also bring a very special joy and warmth.  You see, I was personally reminded of God's love and because of this, found comfort within the pain.  A little over fourteen years ago my first husband, Rick White, died of complications suffered after receiving a bone marrow transplant.

In June 1987 we traveled to Fred Hutchinson Hospital in Seattle, Washington for the procedure.  The three months that followed were filled with pain and fear and hope.  As Rick went through grueling chemo and radiation therapy he became weak and nauseous and at one time he became so ill that he didn't even recognize me.  He made it though those harrowing weeks and was doing fairly well when he contacted pneumonia.  The pneumonia progressed and each day Rick became a little sicker and a little weaker than the day before.

Two weeks before he died I prayed desperately to God to let him live ...physically, I prayed to let him come back home with me ..walking.  I prayed with qualifications, wanting everything my way.

Then, after days and nights of tension and fear, without any overt sign, I stopped being afraid.  Suddenly, I knew that everything was going to be okay.

Two days later, the doctor called me into the social worker's office.   She told me that she didn't think that Rick would walk out of the hospital; she thought that he only had about another week to live and that I had better call the rest of the family.

My concern at the time was that Rick's going be as comfortable as possible.  I wanted to make sure that he wouldn't be in any pain and that he wouldn't be surrounded by a lot of panicking people.  I didn't want a "crash cart" to come rollicking down the hall.  I had seen enough of that.  Dr. Amy assured me that everything would be as I asked.

Immediately after our conversation I went back to Rick's room and told him that Dr. Amy had told me that he was really sick.  Because of his love for me, he had pulled out before when he was really ill, but this time I wanted him to know that this decision was entirely his and whatever he decided he would have my support.

I went back to the apartment to take a nap before returning to the hospital.  Twenty minutes after I had arrived, Rick's nurse called to tell me that he had turned septic (sepsis is a massive blood infection) and that he might only have a half-an-hour or twenty-four hours to live.  In any case I had better get back to the hospital as quickly as possible.

I ran all the way; I reached the hospital, which was eight blocks away, in five minutes after that phone call.  When I got there, there were two doctors, two technicians, and three nurses in the room.  The huge overhead light was lit to its brightest, (which Rick absolutely hated) and there were at least three simultaneous conversations going on.  Rick was conscious and obviously frightened but was ignored by the personnel.  He gradually grew calmer and then we were all asked to leave the room so that the x-ray technician could take a x-ray.

Out in the hallway I turned to Dr. Amy and said, "Is this it"?

"Yes", she said. "This is it".

Strangely enough, I wasn't frightened at all.  I had been dreading this moment ever since Rick got leukemia, had denied to myself that there would ever be such a moment.  Now the only thought in my head was that Rick share the strength that I had been given.  His comfort was uppermost in my mind.

The nurses, technicians and doctors finally left the room and closed the door.  At last we were alone.  The only people allowed in the room were the nurses who would periodically continue to administer medications.

Rick was heavily sedated and on a respirator so he couldn't speak but because I was listening with my heart I heard his questions and fears and responded openly.  I sat on his right side and stroked his arm and held his hand and began to talk.  I spoke to him of many things.  The words came easily, without thought, and because we were sharing such a unique experience I was able to speak the words that our souls had always known.

"Its time to shed all of the negatives you've kept about yourself, Rick", I said.  "Look into your heart and recognize the specialness of what you are and what you have been."

I reminded him of the beauty of Mosquito Lake in Canada where the loons called in the night and where the cranes and herons flew over our camp-site and how, after washing dishes there one morning, I threw the dishwater back into the lake and saw our silverware sink to the bottom.  I reminded him of the great time we had fishing with Skip and Michael and of the partying we did around the campfire.

I spoke to him of Myrtle Beach, where we had spent our honeymoon, and how peaceful it was there when the waves washed up on the shore and the way they reflected the moonlight.  I spoke to him of our home and life together and of his children and their future.

I talked though the night and shared memories and laughed and cried and sometimes did both.  The room was filled with peace and love and our souls were calm.

I read him the Twenty-third Psalm (his favorite) and said to him, "Rick, all of the beauty and love you've ever known is caught up in the light, right over there, let yourself float towards it.  Relax and be at peace."

Rick's death was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.  I truly felt God's presence there in the room, although it was the greatest separation of my life, I wasn't afraid.  I was shown that love and life continue onward and both are infinite.  I know without doubt that there is life within death and that there is no end.

In the day to day living of our lives it's easy to become bogged down and sometimes it seems as if nothing is going right.  Because the holidays can bring you depression and because you may be feeling at a loss, I want to remind you that soon....

The Christ child will be born and .....the miracle is real.

Copyright© 2002 Virginia Lambert       

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