Five years ago this morning I was sitting in my bed, holding Pam’s left hand. I was watching her struggle to breathe. Her shoulders raising with each breathe. I was still in shock that I was about to say good bye for now to my best friend, other half, the mother of my children. And then it happened. Her shoulders didn’t go up, she was motionless, she was gone. She was gone. Pam was the one that brought life, joy and energy to our home. She cared for the kids, the house, me and so much more. I needed her and she was gone. Throughout her sickness, she would say, “I have the easy side of this.” I was starting to realize the reality of that statement. I was alone, it was all on me. That’s how I felt. Reality is that since that morning, I have seen God’s faithfulness and provision in ways I can’t even put to words. As the years have passed without Pam, life has been much different (thanks captain obvious) but it has been good, very good.
One of the most surprising experiences during my grief has been my happiness for Pam. I think about her every day, not as sick but as truly healed and perfect. Pam loved Jesus more than anyone I have ever known. Her faith was simple and strong. You can feel that in the words of her last post written 5 days before she died.
There is so much more to this life than the time that we are here. I believe in life after death. I also believe that only those that accept Christ’s gift of eternal life and forgiveness of sin, will be in heaven for eternity. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” God gave His only son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for our sins and rise from the dead so that we can live forever with Him in eternity. If you have questions about your heart condition and want to discuss this further, please call me! I would love to share further to make sure that I see all my loved ones in heaven! If God chooses to call me home sooner rather than later, then I will be in heaven waiting for all of you, and yes, I want you there! I will certainly be ready to celebrate as soon as you all get there to meet me! It is easy to get so busy with our lives here on earth that we forget about life after death, but wow, life is short. We must consider eternity. We are all eternal beings. You will either live in the presence of our Heavenly Father enjoying life with Him and all of our friends in perfect harmony or you will live forever in outer darkness separated from God and everyone, tormented forever. This is reality.
Now she is no longer concerned with the worries or frustrations of this life, she is enjoying the presence of her God and King, no sadness only happiness, excitement and joy! As the hymn says, she’s been there for 5 years and “she’s no less days to sing God’s praise.” And by they way, now she knows all the words to all of the songs and belts out every song with a perfect singing voice! She is so happy!!
Before Pam left, we spent time together getting our affairs in order. We talked about the kids, our finances, and Pam wanted to make sure that I knew that she was going to be happy and she wanted me to be happy too. She wanted me to remarry if I wanted to. I didn’t want to even begin to think about that. All of the love I had was for Pam, I believed I would be single the rest of my life. It was impossible to even consider being with anyone else. It was Tom & Pam, that’s the way it was supposed to be. Even after her death all of my love was focused towards the kids and Pam’s memory. I remembered what Pam said about me remarrying but it seemed so offensive to me. Pam had even had a specific recommendation a few months earlier. It was one day after our friend, Patrick’s celebration of life service when we took his widow, Pam’s lifelong friend, Dena to lunch. Pam looked at both of us, knowing that she was about to pass and said, “you two should get married.” Only Pam, right?
I thought about that awkward exchange from time to time after Pam left us. Not once did I have a desire to act. Dena was a wonderful, strong, Godly woman but I was still Pam’s husband and always would be in my heart. I thought I had a finite amount of love to give and it was for Pam. But then God…
From the beginning I said the way I would consider seeing someone would be if my kids found someone they liked and mentioned her to me. Seemed like a fail proof plan. It was working perfectly until Molli went to Paige McGoldrick’s bridal shower in Detroit and spent time with Dena. Molli felt strongly enough that I should pursue Dena that she told me so. This was entirely out of character for Molli. What Molli didn’t know was that God had already brought Dena to my mind and I was trying to figure out why. The rest, as they say, is history. Dena and I married January 27th. A coincidence that Pam told me to wait until Aimee graduates to date and oh, by the way, when you do date, you should marry Dena???
What I have discovered is that God is love and there is no limit to love. I don’t love Pam any less or differently but at the same time, I love Dena with a love that is God given and deep. I now understand more fully the love that I have for Pam is, and has always been, a gift from God and so is my love for Dena. I don’t just like Dena, when I think about Dena, my heart wells up. All of this loving has really opened my eyes to the awesomeness of God. God is love and has a limitless amount of love to gift to us. I can’t wait to experience what Pam and Patrick are already enjoying. These 5 years have been filled with the deepest pain, sorrow and suffering as well as the heights gratitude, appreciation and yes, love. I am completely humbled by God’s extravagant generosity towards me. What happened to us 5 years ago was unimaginably frightening, what God has done for and in us since that day is more precious than anything. God showed up and God loved the Butler’s in real, tangible ways. As Pam said in her last post, “This is reality.” God is great!