March 3, 2013 – March 3, 2016. Three very long years that have flown by at unbelievable speed. Even after all this time there are still times that it doesn’t seem possible that she is really gone. Pam was so much more than my wife and my best friend, she was an integral part of who I was/am. She continues to be. Every day, as I process the events of life, both positive and negative, her influence is ever-present. Her perspective was so different from mine. Pam operated more from an emotional base as I live primarily in the logical world. She helped me understand people with a depth and sensitivity that continues to benefit me even today as I interact with people. This is just one example of how I relied on her daily. That is one of the practical struggles of her absence, I so respected her and her opinions. Pam never went to college but had more intuition and clarity of the human condition than anyone I know. I depended on her, and in most cases, deferred to her assessments and that served us well. That level of discernment continues to resonate in my mind as I work with people today. I miss her so.
Pam made me laugh, sometimes to tears. She taught me how to laugh at myself which came to life this week. I was in deep thought about what was going on that day as I was driving to the Post Office. Without paying attention I drove… to the bank drive-thru. The girl at the bank greeted me, “Hi, Tom”, at which point I realized I wasn’t at the post office. I confessed to the teller that I meant to go to the Post Office and she smiled as I drove off. Immediately upon realizing what I had just done, Pam’s voice was in my head saying, “Really????” and then as if audibly I heard her laugh the way she had laughed at herself so many times. And I laughed with a lump in my throat.
Most importantly Pam challenged me spiritually. Her faith was unshakeable with the absolute trust of child’s dependence on a parent. She never doubted, never, not once in the over 25 years I was with her. She relied on me for biblical interpretation and she showed me what it looked like to live it out fearlessly. She was fearless. She loved the book of Joshua and quoted Joshua 1:9 often.
Joshua 1:9 “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
This is where the rubber meets the road isn’t it. I was so completely in love with Pam, as human relationships go, she was everything to me. I loved her, laughed with her, trusted and needed her. We encouraged and challenged each other. Together we grew up into adulthood molding every aspect of who we were along the way. There were so many private, intimate moments, inside jokes… so fun. We had become one flesh in the way God intended. In Pam’s words, “It was sweet.”
Three years ago this morning, she left this world and theology was faced with devastation. That is where the rubber meets the road. Would my faith just be rhetoric or would it prove to be real. There were two main questions. First, did I really believe in the core of my soul that Pam was in the presence of The Almighty God of the universe through the righteousness of Christ and secondly, did I believe that God’s grace, mercy and peace were available and sufficient for me. I am happy to say that the answer to the first question was unequivocally yes. There was not a doubt for even a second. My faith was bolstered by Pam’s faith as she approached the end. She completely accepted this as from God and was ready to go. She knew we would see each other again soon. The answer to the second question is a little more complicated. It is not that I ever doubted, I just had no idea what to expect. This was uncharted ground for me. How do you have peace when you can hardly breathe from the sorrow? Is it a contradiction to hurt and grieve and long for my sweetheart and be at peace at the same time. Is it possible? What do I do, how do I think, most importantly, how do I honor God? I had no answers for this. The good news is that God did not expect for me to have any answers. God let me know through His word and through the Holy Spirit that He loved me more than I can understand and He knew everything I was experiencing. He also promised never to leave me and He delivered.
You see, the loss of my beautiful, awesome, funny, loving, sweet wife is not about her or about me. It is all about God. He is good, He is great and we through Jesus Christ get to spend eternity with Him. Pam just beat us there. We do not grieve as those with no hope. God is faithful and true. Even if I should receive nothing but evil for the rest of my days I will praise the wonderful name of God. The blessing of living for and serving God are far superior to anything this life has to offer, including an awesome marriage to a smoking hot wife. Pam would 100% agree with that (especially the smoking hot wife part)!
Pam loved to sing worship songs and we would laugh and laugh as she would often sing the wrong words but always with love in her heart. I have burned in my memory one of the last Sundays she was able to go to church, we were singing “10,000 Reasons”. I looked over at her and her eyes were closed, her face tilted toward heaven and her hands were in the air. She was singing with all the passion her cancer racked 90 pound body could muster. The tear running down her cheek said it all, she loves Jesus. We have been singing a song in church recently that I know she would like. It is by Hillsong called “O Praise The Name Of The Lord Our God”. Take a listen, there’s a little surprise toward the end.
You can tell by the passion in Pam’s voice how much she loves Jesus. More than anything she wants all of her friends to know the hope, joy and peace that is only found in Jesus. Without Jesus there is no hope.
As I listen to this song I can’t help but think about the verse that says,
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face
On this morning 3 years ago, I saw Pam’s shoulders go up and then down for the last time. I sat there on the edge of the bed gazing at her beautiful face while at the same moment her gaze was transfixed on Jesus face.
I celebrate the gift that Pam was to all of us and I celebrate her life now. I miss her terribly but God’s hope and peace are more than sufficient for me.