Starting The Second Year

3.3.13 – 4.3.14  The beginning of the second year without Pam.  There is an internal pressure to move on, whatever that means.  But how do I transition from mourning the loss of my life partner, from living with unimaginable pain, from the shock that the life that we have worked so hard to build, is gone?  That life, that future is not coming back.  How do I transition from that place to…to anything, to anything that can begin to compare to what I had.  The sweetness of the blessing of THAT life was so much more than I ever could have dreamed it would be.  From the very beginning she made life fun.  Here is a clip recorded in our first home, a mobile home!  She was down on the floor making sure her nephews and niece were having a ball!

 

 

Pam made life fun.  She made life interesting, unpredictable and rich.  I miss her desperately.  Move on?  The reality is that “Moving On” is out of my control.  How long will it take?  How will I know?  Will it ever happen?  Am I going to live the rest of my life alone, looking back?  The answer to the last question is an absolute no.  Pam would not want it that way.  And we all know that what Pam wants, Pam gets.  After all she told me I had to preach her funeral, when I told her I didn’t think I could she just said, “Make it happen”.  Here is Pam in her own words, 38 hours before she met Jesus face to face, encouraging me.

 

 

 

Man, that is one strong woman.  Pam was by far the strongest, most determined, most fearless person I have ever known.  There is a lot I don’t know about this grieving process.  This is the hardest experience of my life.  It seems like I find new ways to hurt every day.  But, if Pam used her last few breaths in this life to encourage me to keep living, then that’s what needs to happen.  What an example she was, not just in her words, but in her life.  She was smiling and saying goodbye, she was ready, I think, as she realized the end was close, she was excited.  I don’t feel sorry for Pam and I don’t feel sorry for me.  As I move through the sadness, loneliness and disappointment, I look to God.  The rest of my life is in His hands.  When will relief come?  What will that look like?  God knows.  He blessed me with every good gift I have ever received, including Pam.  What does He have in store for my future?  I don’t know but I do know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”

 

Pam was looking forward as she was leaving this life, I need to continue to look forward as I live the rest of mine.  How am I going to do that?  I have no idea, stay tuned, God is going to show us the way.

 

A Night To Remember

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This picture was taken at sunset exactly one year ago by my daughter Molli’s friend.  She was in the Grace Church parking lot heading into the celebration of  Pam’s life.  You can clearly see the shape of a huge heart in the sky.  How appropriate as we gathered to thank God for this special woman that personified love.

I have been looking back all week reliving what we were all going through last year.  What happened at Grace Church that night was the most amazing, God encounter I have ever experienced in my life.  I knew something really special was going on as the service moved along, but I had no idea of the magnitude to which God was moving in that room.  Many people have explained to me that while they were sitting in the service God spoke in dynamic ways to them.  It is so rare to experience the presence of God corporately in such a powerful way.  I know I will never forget that event.

The reason I wanted to post this tonight was to thank all of the people involved in making that night possible.  Pam would have been thrilled with it all, the stories, the music and the fact that the clear gospel message was proclaimed.  I honestly think she would have been blown away by the number of people that made the effort and travelled to be there.  Some estimates were that over 1500 people attended the visitation and or the funeral.  What an overwhelming outpouring of love and compassion we experienced.  Words fail me and thank you will never be enough.

There is one person that I want to extend a special thank you to, my brother-in-law, Steve Jones.  From the time that Pam’s passing became imminent through the burial, Steve was the leader of our family.  He took gentle leadership and provided experience based guidance that proved to be sagacious (really good).  He encouraged us to have the visitation and funeral on the same night and that was key to everything that happened that night.  Steve took the leadership determining the order of service, working with the various people involved in the service making sure that everyone knew what to do and when.  He practiced with the musicians and lead the music during the service.  The biggest gift Steve gave to me that night was his willingness to be my back up.  Pam insisted that I preach at her funeral and what Pam wants, Pam gets.  I told her, “I can’t do that, you don’t know what you are asking”.  I will never forget her response, she looked at me, struggled to breathe, smiled and said, “just do it” and smiled again.  I knew I had to do it, I didn’t know how I could.  So I put my thoughts together, prepared, and told Steve that I had no idea what would happen when I get up there on the stage looking over the open casket.  I really thought I would just fall apart.  Steve told me to just try and if it didn’t work he would come up and deliver my message.  I gave him a copy of the hieroglyphics I called my notes.  Steve carried the family through that whole week and especially that night.  How do you thank someone for that?  I think when Steve saw, as we all did, what God did that night, he knew his labor wasn’t just appreciated, it was significant toward the advancing of the gospel.  Lives were changed for eternity that night.  What was accomplished that night was by the hand of the All Mighty Sovereign God of the universe.  God’s instrument in doing this work was a humble, godly, loving brother, Steve Jones.  Thanks Steve, I will never forget your ministry to us.

If you were not able to be there that night we have the audio posted on this blog but I will include a link here as well.


Never Alone

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3.3.13 – 3.3.14  Unbelievable.  Simply doesn’t seem possible that it has been a year since she left.  Those last two days seem like they just happened.  Friday brought a struggle to breathe and communicate, in her eyes there seemed to be an acute awareness of the brevity of her time with us.  There wasn’t panic but a sense of urgency.  Saturday it was touch and go all day as we thought we were going to lose her at any minute, she didn’t communicate much at all as she spent the whole day in bed.  Then Sunday morning, she rallied for just a minute to smile and look me in the eye and uttered her last words, “I love you too, honey” and then…her chest stopped moving, she was gone.

I never would have guessed that you could remove the spark plug of this family, the spirit of this home, the spontaneity of our lives and we would do as well as we have.  The reason is in the title of this post.  We are never alone.  While we miss Pam terribly and sometimes the tears just come out of the blue, we are not alone.  I long for the special companionship that only the husband and wife share, but I’m never alone.  Many times I feel inadequate to perform in social situations the way I have for the last 25 years under the direction of the best, still, I am not alone.  It is more than a cliché, it is reality.  I loved being married to Pam, we were, in Pam’s words, peanut butter and jelly.  Our union wasn’t just blessed by God, it was orchestrated by Him.  The sweetness of her smile, the hilarity of her laugh, the unpredictability of her humor, her intoxicating smile, irresistible charm, her enthusiastic hugs, her passion, innocence, sophistication and intuition were just a few of the blessings she shared with us.  What an amazing woman!  What a truly spectacularly special human being.  What a joy and a privilege to know her, love her, share my life with her and learn from her.

As she said in this prayer, we are not alone.  Typical Pam, in this audio file you will hear her get choked up twice, once when recalling a story about our daughter Aimee and the other when she is praying for our friend Jim who was serving in Iraq at the time.  Pam genuinely loved and cared about people.


We have made it through this year with a strength that is not our own, a strength that is not from us.  Many people are praying for us as a family and God is honoring those prayers.  He is showing us mercy and showering us with grace.  God is good.  God is faithful.  God can be trusted.  He is real, His Spirit that lives within all true believers is real.  Because of God’s faithfulness and presence, we live.  We don’t just survive this indescribable pain, we have love, joy and hope beyond measure.

It is exciting to think about what she is doing right now.  I am so happy for her.  Sadness, pain, betrayal, heartache and disappointment can’t touch her anymore.  She is experiencing the abundant life that God created us for.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss her every minute of every day, when I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning.  I think about her when I am driving, when I am at my open house, when I am cleaning the house, especially when I am cleaning the house.  One of my kids asked me last night if I had draped the blanket over the arm of the sofa.  I said yes, the way your mother used to do it.  To which the un-named child informed me that it was not “exactly the way she did it”.  It looked more like a guy did it.  I loved being married to Pam, I don’t like being single, I loved being married to Pam.  I miss her with every fiber of my being.  Every bit of the pain I feel at her loss testifies to the magnitude of God’s blessing in giving her to me in the first place.  I have no idea what this next year will look like but there are two things I do know; I will continue to miss my sweetheart with a pain that cannot be expressed with words and I will never be left alone, God has promised not to leave or forsake me and to be a friend that is closer than a brother, He has been and He will continue to be.

A Gift From My Sweetheart

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3.3.13 – 2.3.14  It’s been eleven months without my sweetheart.  Eleven months since she smiled brightly, opened her eyes and said, “I love you honey”.  It seems like yesterday, it seems like 10 years ago.  February has two significant dates, Valentine’s Day and Pam’s birthday.  Pam and I never really made a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, our love was so strong and so deep it seemed unnecessary to celebrate it differently on that one arbitrary day.  On the other hand, her birthday was a different story.  Pam always loved a good birthday party and no one could throw a party like her.  She made every event SO MUCH FUN.  Pam brought an energy that lifted everyone, never more than at birthday parties.  She loved celebrating people.  We had a superbowl/birthday party last night.  It was fun and it was great to have everybody there, it really, really was but… I think we all noticed.  It was Pam’s house, there is an expectation of what a party at Pam’s house is like.  It was fine, but it was not a Pam hosted party.  She brought a level of excitement and engagement that can’t be replicated.  There were two new girl friends that would have had a completely different experience if Pam had been hosting the party.  It would have been a night that they would never forget.  As it was, it was a nice night, but probably not one that will carry a great deal of significance for them.

It is for this reason and many others like it that the grief is still getting harder.  The process is not, in any meaningful sense, getting easier.  Each day still produces new reminders of her absence; a sick child not being comforted and cared for as she did so well, a challenging issue about which she is not providing insight, an accomplishment that goes unshared and hollow.

This week brought a body blow of sorts.  An electrician came in to do some work in the family room so I had to empty the cabinet beside the fireplace for him to do his work.  It was the cabinet that we use to store our photo albums.  What I found when I unloaded that cabinet stunned me.  There was a folder that nobody new existed.  A gift from my sweetheart filled with some incredible treasures.  There were two calendar books covering the time from our first date (9/12/87) to our wedding (8/13/88) with something written on almost every day.  They were filled with the thoughts of a 19 year old girl trying to handle this new relationship rightly.  I was transported back to a hallway in the convocation/gym building on the campus of Faith Baptist Bible College circa 1987.  She wrote, “Gave Tom 25¢ and talked to him in the gym, 1st time.”  You see she needed to use a pay phone and I told her that I could get her into the coach’s office to use his desk phone.  I was a big shot, an RA, and I had a set of keys (insufferable even then).  Undeterred by my idiocy, she gave me the quarter she was going to put in the pay phone and I told her that I would keep it forever.  I carried it in my wallet for years.  When Pam got sick I looked all over for that quarter, it wasn’t in my old wallet anymore.  Also in the folder that I found in the photo album cabinet was an envelope that contained a transcript from our wedding which was another complete surprise.  And to my complete shock, in the bottom of that envelope was the quarter.  I could spend hours telling you about the contents of that folder.  There is simply no way to prepare for discoveries like that.  So precious, so interesting, so sweet connecting me back to her.  At the same time invades heaviness, loss, sorrow and longing.

I continue to walk this unfamiliar path.  This is the first significant loss in my life.  There is no context for processing this experience.  The dichotomy of a wonderfully blessed life being lived in deep sorrow leaves me at a loss to know what comes next.  It is like a roller coaster that has deep drops and only comes back to level ground, there are no steep climbs building eager anticipation of exciting experiences yet to come.  The important truth I want to share with you is that I have not and will not give up.  I know in my mind and am convinced in my heart that God has amazing things in store for me.  There is no promise that my life will end like Job’s did, being blessed more in the end, but the only promise that matters is that He will never leave me or forsake me.  Whatever He has for me, pleasant or painful, it is my privilege to live this life for Him, the One who showers me with blessings, who sacrificed everything for me and gave me the gift of eternal life that I could not earn.  Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord.

A clip of that song from the night of Pam’s service


Happy New Year?

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3.3.13 – 1.3.14  Happy New Year… Happy, New Year…  Will it be?  I have no idea.  It would be easier if it were, “Have a Productive New Year” or “Have a Purposeful New Year”.  But Happy, I don’t have a lot of control over that.  I can do my best to focus on the positive aspects of my life, and there are plenty.  I am continually amazed at how blessed I am.  I can also try to limit the amount of time I think about Pam, the great life we had together and what I have lost, and I do limit that reminiscing.  Each morning I can decide to push through and do the things that need to be done.  I can function, and by God’s grace I have been able to function on the same level as before.  BUT

The reality is that there is much that is out of my control.  The time Pam and I had together was so fulfilling, so happy, so meaningful…I could go on with every superlative you could think of and it would not be hyperbole.  I loved Pam with everything that I am.  I loved doing things for her that would make her happy, especially surprising her.  She loved being surprised and surprising others.  In a lot of ways life with her was a continual game in a really good way.  I loved golfing with her.  I so loved and appreciated her viewpoint on everything from my teaching, to parenting, to the various experiences of life.  I loved consoling and counseling her, helping her with situations she struggled with.  I loved just being with her.  I loved her hugs and whispering in my ear.  I loved serving her, there was so much satisfaction in serving her.  I was so proud of her, in an appropriate way.  She was the embodiment of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Who can find a capable wife?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will not lack anything good.
12 She rewards him with good, not evil,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her female servants.
16 She evaluates a field and buys it;
she plants a vineyard with her earnings.
17 She draws on her strength
and reveals that her arms are strong.
18 She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night.
19 She extends her hands to the spinning staff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 Her hands reach out to the poor,
and she extends her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all in her household are doubly clothed.
22 She makes her own bed coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known at the city gates,
where he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes and sells linen garments;
she delivers belts to the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.
28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
29 “Many women are capable,
but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
31 Give her the reward of her labor,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

You don’t share your life with a woman like that and just move on when she is gone.  Each day is full of memories that come out of the most unexpected places and grab my heart.  Every time that happens I am reminded of the magnitude of my loss and the reality of my life now.  That involves tremendous sadness and sorrow.  The good news is that as I walk through the devastation with God, He is using it to do a work in me.  The promise is in James 1

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Happy New Year?  There will be happy times for sure and thinking about what she is doing right now makes me happier than I can explain.  When I think about how much I miss her here, I think about how happy she is now and that I am going to join her there soon enough.  There has never been a time when the reality of the presence of God has been so clear to me.  I can’t wait to be in His presence!

Celebrating Christmas

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3.3.13 – 12.3.13  Last year at this time I was trying to come to terms with the fact that Pam’s life was quickly coming to an end.  It didn’t seem possible.  She was still taking care of business, readying her house for Christmas while readying her family for the future.  She took special care to explain how everything was to be done.  Not once, not even once did she complain.  Even though she didn’t understand why this was happening, she didn’t complain.  Instead she did what she always did.  She got her house in order.  As I watched her show the girls how to decorate the house and create a festive table setting I wondered, what were we going to do without her, what would Christmas be like without her?  Well, here we are.  It’s Christmas and she’s not here.  The first year we were married I decided to do the 12 days of Christmas for her.  On the first day I got her one gift, one the second day, two gifts and so on.  The next year she did it for me and we continued that tradition until this year.  Pam loved filling stockings for the kids with little gifts, lots of little gifts, so many they sometimes didn’t all fit “in” the stocking and every gift had special significance to each child.  When I say she loved to do the stockings, I mean she loved it.  She would call me to tell me about finding the perfect stocking stuffer, and it was July.  She loved thinking about and surprising her babies with great gifts.  It’s a struggle not to dwell on what we’ve lost but God is good.  As much as she loved surprising the kids and making their Christmas fun, I enjoyed doing the same for her.  I would spend hours thinking about her and what she would like, what she would make her smile, it made me pay more attention to her and that made me love her more.  Now…she’s not here.  But, in some real ways she is.  Each one of the kids possesses significant parts of her personality.  Her voice is still loud in my mind as I try to recall her instructions.  Her example last year changed my life.  She said, “If this is God’s plan for us then that is what is best”.  She was right.  Her love and trust in Jesus was and continues to be the highest form of true worship of the Jesus she loved.  She was sad, shocked and confused but she trusted God’s perfect will and rested peacefully in His arms to the very end.  We are adjusting to this new life but, as Pam did in the last weeks of her life last year, we will continue to trust God’s perfect will and rest in His peace even in the midst of the pain, grief and sadness.  What an incredible blessing to spend 25 wonderful years with such a fun, beautiful, Godly, selfless, hardworking, genuine, loving, strong woman.  God has blessed me more than I could have ever dreamed.  I will continue to celebrate the God who saved my soul, blessed my life and is my eternal hope.

Share a Smile

 

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3.3.13 – 11.3.13  Eight months now and life goes on.  As I take stock of where we have come since Pam left us, I have to be honest and tell you, I am surprised, surprised in a good way.  Pam was a realist that approached life in practical terms and had little interest in drama.  For example, when people would tell her to fight this cancer and beat it, she would say, “I don’t know what that means, fight.  It’s in God’s hands and I don’t have anything to say about it.”  She would also say that she is the lucky one, she gets to go to Jesus.  She wouldn’t put up with whining or excuse making.  I remember her saying to the kids, “No wa wa”.  At the same time she was always pointing out the humor in everything like the time that the people at the rental car place told her that her daddy (referring to me) would be right back.  She told everyone that story, laughing hysterically.  Or the time we got on a full elevator and there was a guy that wouldn’t fit.  As soon as the doors close she said out load, “Good thing you let us on, that guy was farting!”  The silent elevator came to life with laughter.  She was always making people laugh and squeezing everything possible out of life.

What I am surprised about is how well things have gone.  She would be proud of her family.  She would not want us to shrink back and feel sorry for ourselves.  She would want us to live life to the fullest, even without her.  She would say, “Thomas, God doesn’t make mistakes, He will be with you guys, don’t just mope around”.  If I was ever feeling down about something she would point out that it looks like someone kicked my dog.  She really had zero tolerance for self-pity, none.

Since we have lost Pam I have documented for you the hardships and the praises.  The thing that strikes me tonight is the fact that she would be so happy with the way we have carried on.  Pam and I were going to take a trip to Hawaii to celebrate or 25th anniversary this year in August, so the kids and I went, she would love that.  Last month, a friend of ours, Leon, scored some Nascar tickets to the Charlotte race and a behind the scenes tour of the Hendrick Motorsports facilities.  This month is the Iowa Realty Naples trip, we are going on that trip as well.  The girls went with Pam’s sister Pennie on her annual bus trip to the Mall of America and had a ball!  The fact that her family is still enjoying life and honoring her wishes would make her proud.

Make no mistake, this is the most difficult experience of my life, living life, going forward without her.  There are days of immeasurable pain and loss.  Their are times that I reach for my phone to tell her something.  There are times that I just have to cry and if you know me at all you know that is not me.  The hurt is still as fresh and painful as ever.  But we need to keep laughing and enjoying moments, even though she is gone, because that is what she wanted and what she wants, she gets.  Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, I wonder if you would be willing to share a Pam story to bring a smile to everyone’s face in honor of the one who did it the best.  Nothing would honor her memory more appropriately than to have everyone sharing a funny story and a good laugh!

Life Changing News

What is the worst news you could ever receive? Think about it for a second. What, apart from God, in your life do you hold dearest? What could that terrible message be? For me that message came exactly 1 year ago today. Pam and I were at the Mayo clinic in Rochester Mn. to find out why she couldn’t get rid of a nagging cough. They had run several tests on her to no avail. Then they ran a CT/PET scan on her and that was the day, October 22, 2012, we were supposed to get the results. I remember waking up that morning in the Kahler Grand Hotel. It was a small room in this old historic hotel, the room was stuffy. Pam and I got ready for our meeting with Dr. Block, Pam’s Oncologist, a wonderful Godly man. We were both unusually quiet, not knowing what to think. I remember looking at her and she didn’t say a word, she just shrugged her shoulders. We prayed and then we went down the elevator, through the lobby and across the street to the Gonda building and up to the 18th floor. Holding hands the whole way until we reached the front desk where she had to sign in. We took our seats in a waiting room full of clearly sick people. Pam looked radiant as she engaged everyone she met with her warm enthusiasm and genuine affection. She didn’t fit in here. We waited. Looking around it didn’t seem conceivable that she belonged here. I almost had myself convinced that this was some ridiculous exercise in over-cautiousness when they called her name. We quickly got up and walked back to see Dr. Block. Even in his friendly greeting, however, he telegraphed all so subtly the gravity of what we were about to discuss. As we sat down, he started by looking us in the eye and saying,”I’m so sorry”. He was choking up a little while at the same time maintaining complete professionalism. He went on to say, “It is cancer.” He explained what they had seen and what they thought, the whole time he was talking I was waiting for him to stop so I could ask, “What stage is it?” Without hesitation he said, “Oh, its stage 4, its everywhere”. He pointed out that from the first x-ray in September to the scan they did the day before the tumor had shown “stunning” progression. They didn’t know what type of cancer it was specifically, but they knew it was aggressive. He gave us the technical name of how the cancer was manifesting itself and suggested we pursue aggressive treatment to prolong life as long as possible. He then told us that Pam would not get better and any course of treatment would be to hold back the inevitable as long as we could and try to give her the best quality of life possible. With that, she gave Dr. Block a hug as if to say, its ok. Then without missing a beat she happily greeted everyone as we left the office bringing a smile to everyone’s face as only she could. By the time we reached the elevator, the weight of that news started to settle in. We quickly and quietly made our way back to the room. I wanted to jump online and get as much info as I could. With each query came bad news. The results all seemed the same but it couldn’t be possible, this is Pam. 3 to 6 months. No way! I looked at her and she again shrugged her shoulders and this time she said the words I will never forget, “Its curtains for me.” I was in shock, we both were. To a certain extent, I still am. October 22, 2012 was a day that my life changed forever. I was about to start down a road that was completely foreign to me. Brokenness and pain were not a part of my life experience. My parents didn’t divorce, I had a happy comfortable home life, have always had great friendships, never lost anyone close, great college years and married the most amazing women I had ever met with whom I have 3 wonderful children. We had hard times for sure but nothing earth shattering. This news was earth shattering. I can hear myself telling Pam though the hard times, “I don’t care if we lose everything, as long we have our family I’ll be happy”. I meant that, I have never lusted for stuff, power or fame. I really am a simple man. So at this point you are asking, “So what’s the morale of this story, what’s the bottom line?” The answer is…there is no answer, there is no resolution yet…the story is still being written every morning that I wake up without my best friend and the love of my life. As I figure out how to navigate this new life that I don’t know how to deal with. You may think by this that I am falling apart and pity me. Don’t. I am a blessed, blessed man. God is so good to me! This devastating pain of mine is no comparison to the pain Jesus volunteered to go through for me. He knows my pain and is walking each step with me. My love for Him is so much greater as I suffer what sometimes seems unbearable sorrow knowing that as hurtful as my anguish is, it doesn’t begin to compare to what He suffered for me. I can’t relate to that kind of love in the same way that I couldn’t relate to someone who lost a spouse before I lost Pam. Every day God teaches me something new about His power. I am telling you from the midst of the storm, Jesus is the answer. Jesus is your hope. He knows what you are going through even though no one else does. He is giving me strength for each day and a hope for the future. He will do the same for you. Almost everyone will have an October 22, 2012 moment in their life. Be ready.

Thankful Through The Pain

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3.3.13 – 10.3.13 Seven months in and life without my best friend, the love of my life, the one I was created for, this new life is emotionally all over the place. We had a relationship that was comprised of a soulful understanding replete with nonverbals, inside meaning, secret names and personal history that takes 25 years to build. There was such joy in recounting life’s experiences great and small, happy or sad, crazy, silly or surreal. We spent much of our time trying to figure out life, asking each questions as well as offering insight. Both of us had respect beyond measure and complete trust in each other that provided comfort and security. We worked together, played together, lived together and loved together. We worshipped, prayed, parented and served together. I honestly don’t know how it could have been better. Now, having experienced that, the thought of living without it is unthinkable still, seven months since we said good bye. I feel like a person that has been in a terrible accident and I am being carried to the hospital. Even though I am being carried to where I need to go, the pain is excruciating.
The reason I go into such detail is not so that you would feel sorry for me but rather that you would understand how generously God blessed me. I have experienced a marriage that most people only dream about, not that Pam or I was perfect, far from it. But we allowed each other to be human and loved each other unconditionally.
So in spite of the pain, I live on, grateful for God’s continual blessings and challenged by that beautiful, spunky, loving, driven, competitive sweetheart of mine. I miss her with every ounce of my being. I long for the day I will see her again. I am ecstatic to think of what she is experiencing right now. I imagine that she is following Jesus all over heaven so closely that she is stepping on His heels. Every two seconds she is saying, “I love you Jesus!”, “I love you Jesus!”, “I love you Jesus!”
I am warmed by how well our kids are doing. I imagine her cheering as I close out on the most productive year of real estate we have ever had. When I am doubting myself or what to do I hear this voice in my head saying. “Seriously Thomas, just make it happen!” Her influence on all of us will carry on through the rest of our lives.
Lord, help me to focus on and delight in You and Your Word, help me to love and serve people and not allow this loss to cause me to focus on myself and help me to be a better dad, brother and son. Thank you for Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith! I Love You!

6 Months Later

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3.3.13 – 9.3.13 This picture was taken the last night Pam was with us. Shortly after this picture was taken, she walked upstairs, under her own strength and went to bed, 36 hours later, she was gone. That was six months ago this morning that the love of my life breathed her last breath here and opened her eyes in paradise. Not for a second has she longed to be back here. Her joy is complete, she has no pain or hurt, she will never cry again, she is experiencing love like never before. I wish I could have seen her face when for the first time she opened her mouth and sang praises to her King with perfect pitch, a deep resonant tone, unbelievable power and all the right words! I can only imagine how happy she is. She knew as the time was growing short that she was the fortunate one. She is where all of God’s children were meant to be when he created us, in His presence, completely innocent and safe for all eternity. She really is living the dream! Meanwhile, back here on earth, God has shown Himself real to us. This unthinkable tragedy, this unimaginable pain, the complete shattering of a life lived thus far has not been too great a challenge for God though. The hurt and pain have daily revealed new aspects of my relationship with Pam that are gone. Her absence is with me every step I take. There is never a time that I don’t think about how blessed I am to have shared 26 years of my life loving and being loved by her. The truth is at each step as I am mourning the loss of my best friend, God almost audibly says, “I know, I have felt your pain, I am with you every step, I will never leave you, I love you”. Since she has been gone, I have learned a lot about my relationship with Pam but, more importantly, I am learning a lot more about my relationship with my Savior. My friend Jeff spoke in church on Sunday about Job. He made the comment that many times we love God for what He does for us instead of loving Him for who he is. Even during this time of extreme pain, I can see how easy it is to love God for the peace and comfort He gives instead of lifting my eyes, forgetting about me and my circumstances and loving God because He is the Great I Am! Lord, I thank you for all you are doing for the kids and me! I love you because you are God, there is none like you. You are worthy of all of my praise! No matter what this life brings, good or bad, you are the center of my affection! Colossians 3:1-4 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” I can’t wait for that day!