I’ve had many gracious emails, phone calls, and notes from those who were concerned about me, and our whole family, celebrating Thanksgiving last week without Lois. I appreciate the concern, notes of encouragement, prayer and love that people continue to extend to our whole family. It is yet another example of the “body of Christ” living together and gives me the opportunity to share my personal experience of Thanksgiving 2009.
First, giving thanks was not difficult – just different. I found myself thanking God for what Lois is no longer dealing with. No more Chemo infusions! The Chemo “cold” with its dripping nose and clogged sinuses is gone. The neuropathy – the constant tingling in her hands and feet – has ended and the microwave is no longer heating up a rice bag every hour. There’s no more gradual hair loss to contend with, no more CT scans, no port to flush and keep clean, no need to sort a score of pill bottles. No more pain.
Second, spending time with the whole family was not a constant reminder that Lois was not there – just different. We all gathered at Joy and Tony’s house – all 29 of us! It was great fun to try to polish off enough food for 50 people. The kids had fun together and the adults sat around and talked for hours. Lois did enter the conversation at times but not in a mournful way. Instead, there were comments of fond memories.
Third, I didn’t experience any intense loneliness – just a different sense that I no longer had a partner to share with. I didn’t find that disconcerting or troubling but found a different kind of freedom. I arrived at Joy’s house when I felt like it – didn’t check with anyone about the schedule – and I left when I wanted to and didn’t wait for Lois to finish dishes or a conversation or . . .
Did I miss Lois? Yes, of course. But I am committed to trusting God more than I miss my wife. And I remember that Thanksgiving is about Him not me. So I join with David who praised the Lord with these words:
"Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)