2 Cor 12v9

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The End

It is over. Richard finally faced something he couldn't conquer, and he is now free from the fight and doing who-knows-what, who-knows-where.

Oh, how I wish I could see it. I know it's totally amazing, better than anything we can imagine with our physical minds, because it far outweighs anything we've ever experienced before. I know that there is no pain or sadness or worry, and that everything we've ever struggled with will suddenly make total sense because we will see it a way we've never been able to before.

A friend sent me this C. S. Lewis quote from The Last Battle:

"All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

That's what bring me hope and comfort. Not images of green meadows filled with rainbow ponies and candy floss clouds (which is what so many books on heaven seem to show). Heck, there was no way Richard wanted to leave his adventures on this world behind anyway, never mind for fluffy rabbits and people in sandals grinning serenely at each other. No, the next great adventure - the unknown chapters that get better and better - that's where my hope lies. All our frustrations with this world point us to the fact that we were made for somewhere else.


In the meantime, I am back, for the third time in my life, at that exhausting, core-sucking place where I have watched someone I love fade bit by bit by bit and fought so hard to change it any way I can. The images in my mind are still fresh of just what a degenerative disease, plus all the hard-hitting medicines used in a futile initiative against it, plus long periods of time where the body is debilitated and wasting away, can actually do. I could go into great detail about those last few weeks, but I am going to use the same tactics as I did for my mother-in-law and for Scooby, and keep choosing not to talk about them or give description to them, so that eventually time will do its thing and the memories will fade, and stop flashing into my mind when I'm trying to sleep.

But, as with all things, God can use them for good if you let Him, and right now the horrible parts of the end of Richard's life have a use, and that is to remind me how important it was to let him go. When those images come, I can turn them into an excuse to rejoice - his body doesn't look like that anymore! He has a new one! The old one was a trap, weighing him down, giving him pain and preventing him from doing what he wanted to do. It was wrecked and ruined, so why would I want to keep him in it? The new one is so amazing, we can't even picture it. And that's what makes it more exciting.

And as awful as waiting for death is, I am still glad that (for now) we don't get a choice about it. There is no quick and easy option to skip to the end - we have to let nature do its course, with as much comfort as modern medicine can bring us. So even though, in my sheltered experience, it's the worst thing I have ever ever been through, like a form of torture, I wouldn't want to change the law on it. 

This last week, as he faded fast, Richard found it really difficult to keep consciousness and kept fading in and out. He was easily confused about what was going on around him and couldn't always finish his sentences. But there was something so beautiful in the middle of all of it. Instead of the frustration of a busy mind that was desperate to do something "productive" and hating to be so dependant on others, I saw a man reduced to the character qualities that summed him up best: wanting to be useful, and consideration for others. All his dreams were about fixing things, and trying to make things better. All his interactions were about making people feel that they were understood and appreciated. Even though I stayed over to be with him while he was like that, he would frequently wake up and see me and say "Oh, you're here!'" and fall back to sleep with such a big grin that he didn't need any more words to show me how much he loved and appreciated me. While he was asleep he would chat to his dad and other friends about ideas and schemes for building things and seemed so happy doing it. Even when not fully conscious, he would thank the staff for everything they were doing and ask me if he was treating everybody okay and if he'd accidentally ignored people because he knew he was in and out of sleep.

One of my favourite moments, which turned out to be one of his last interactions with me, was caught by one of our incredible friends, who was sitting quietly crocheting in the corner. I'd leaned over to ask him something - maybe it was to sit up and swallow his meds or something - and as he opened his eyes and saw me, he said "Oh hello. You're very pretty. Can I please have a kiss?' 





It's compliments like this, of which there were many in the week, and only for me (thank goodness) that I am choosing to fix in my mind. When the adrenaline that I no longer need in case of emergency gradually fades and I can start doing normal things again, and I rebuild strength in my muscles that I haven't used for long walks and other exercise, and I can remember what it feels like to wake up in the morning and have a pre-planned schedule for the day, I will no longer feel like I have been ripped apart by this process. I will heal and be so glad that I walked him through every opportunity I had to be with him. I will treasure the few happy moments that I would've missed if we'd cut the journey short, and I will know that no matter how tired I was, and desperate to see his suffering end, and ragged by the emotions that pulled me all over the place and back again, that I did my absolute best for him, without holding back. Because physical suffering is not the worst thing that happen to us. We are so ready to run away from it and find comfort instead, but then we miss out on so much that will shape us, and deepen our understanding, and take us beyond limits we wouldn't have gone otherwise.

So I am not bitter about this. I am still waiting for peace, as I still can't accept this outcome yet without wanting to scream about, but I know that eventually the peace will come, and probably a whole load more unexpected blessing with it too.

So goodnight Richard - you now have your perfect peace, and soon I will have a less-perfect but still amazing version of it here too. See you soon xx


32 comments:

  1. Fight on mighty warrior- you are not alone-we love you.x

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  2. You are awesome xxxx

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  3. Esther, my heart breaks for you all. Love and prayers, you are one incredible family xxx

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  4. Esther,my heart breaks for you and your family. I hope you find peace for you and your family. Your an amazing lady who has shown great strength at a very hard time. Xxxxxxxx

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  5. Hi Esther. You probably don't remember me, but I had the privilege of sharing some classes at Regents with Richard and yourself. I was studying part-time, so I never really had a 'year' of my own but commuted in from North Wales twice a week for 6 years.

    I often wondered how you two and your children were getting on in Morecambe. I only found out about Richard's illness through a friend's comment on a Facebook status. I am so sorry to hear your news.

    Thank you for this blog (this is the only page I have read). You demonstrate a grace and dignity that is inspiring. Nobody knows how they will react or feel in the situation that you are going through, but the inner strength that the Lord has granted you and Richard, and the quiet peace-in-a-storm that surrounds you, shine through this blog page and are a testimony to a living faith.

    May God bless you and the children, and may the work you, as a family, have begun continue to bear much fruit for the glory of the ever-present Lord Jesus Christ.

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  6. You truly have more strength than I knew a person could have. Richard would be so proud to read this

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  7. Esther, you and your family are nothing short of an inspiration and an example to everyone, put simply you walk the walk.

    I never had the good fortune to meet Richard or your family, but it is clearly evident how amazing you all are and how strong your faith is, regardless of your circumstances.

    I pray that you and your children know God's strength and peace in this time.

    You are amazing.

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  8. "Well I don't know that there are harps in heaven, or the process for earning your wings. And I don't know of bright lights at the end of tunnels or any of these things.
    But I know to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord; and from what I know of Him, that must be very good." - Sara Groves, What Do I Know

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  9. God Bless you all, an amazing family xx

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  10. Thank you for the brave way you have shared with us over the last months. Its incredible to see you focusing on the' beauty from the ashes' already. Praying God will be very close to you and your children.

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  11. I have never met you but you are an amazing woman x your faith, strength, passion and love shine in your words. A true inspiration xx with love and prayers jean (friend of gemma)

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  12. Your faith, hope, courage and love are a total inspiration and straight from the heart of God. May He uphold you and bless you all and bring a true lasting peace x

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  13. Esther my prayers are with you,, for peace andnstrength and the continued knowledge that you are loved x

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  14. To Richard God go with you on your final journey in this world and into the next.
    And Esther you will have the strength to carry on in your children I know I have been there. God bless to you and you family x

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  15. Hi Esther, I am so sad to hear your news and wanted to send a verse to you. "He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge; his truth shall be your shield and buckler" Psalm 91 v 4. (louise walker - Viv walkers daughter in law)

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  16. You bless us Esther with your courage and focus on God, thank you for sharing. I pray for the peace and comfort promised to those who mourn x

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  17. Esther, I'm so sorry that Richard passed on, and yet, through the honesty and depth of your words I am filled with renewed hope for eternity, and I feel encouraged to live each day focusing on the the things that matter. I just want to thank-you for taking the time to share your experience with the rest of us, especially when your thoughts are the most fresh, right in the midst of everything that has happened. I struggle to find the words to bring comfort to others facing difficult times, but I think that your blog will be a source of Biblical strength and wisdom and that it will enable me and many others to express our faith better and to share the love and comfort of God with other people. God bless you and your family. You are in our prayers. x (friend of Hubert & Elaine)

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  18. There are no words to describe the admiration I have for you. I pray that God will continue to give you strength. Much love to you and your precious children xx

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  19. On behalf of my family and I, thank you for the beauty and strength of your faith. God bless you and your children.

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  20. When i first met you you were a young girl. It was when we went to the Olive Branch Mission in Chicago to do a youth mission. Now you are a young woman who i admire. You are such a Light for the Lord. May God Bless you and your family. Isaiah 35 v 8 to 10.

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  21. I'm unable to bring any spiritual insight in to your situation (I'm a former christian who, if pushed ,would call my self an atheist). But In this journey that is life we're not meant to be alone and so as a fellow human I do send all my love to you and your family. I won't pretend to understand what you're going through, but my heart goes out to you all.

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  22. We add our thoughts and prayers for you and the family.....much love

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  23. For you Esther xx

    Courage Does Not Always Roar

    When life gets you down and the problems you face
    are certainly more than your share...
    When you run out of strength and you want to give up
    because it's just too much to bear...

    I want to remind you, my precious friend,
    that you have what it takes inside...
    extraordinary courage that may not ROAR
    but it doesn't cower and hide

    It's the quiet voice inside you that says,
    "Tomorrow I'll try again."
    It's the courage to keep on going...
    to see things through to the end

    You are not defined by this moment in time.
    You are not what has happened to you
    It's the way you choose to respond that matters
    and what you decide to do

    Courage is not the absence of fear,
    but a powerful choice we make...
    the choice to move forward with PURPOSE
    ...regardless of what it takes

    It's the courage that's found in ordinary women
    who are HEROES in their own way,
    exhibiting strength and fortitude
    in life's challenges every day...

    Valiant woman of exceptional courage
    with enduring power to cope...
    taking each problem one day at a time
    and never giving up HOPE.

    We're encouraged by the faith of others
    to survive and overcome,
    with the courage to say, "I may be down...
    but the battle is not done!"

    For the WOMAN of COURAGE is a winner...
    regardless of what she loses
    She displays amazing beauty and strength
    with the attitude she chooses

    She gives herself the permission she needs...
    to feel disappointed or sad.
    But then she empowers herself with faith...
    to focus on good things...not bad

    Her story is one of gentle strength
    reminding us all once more...
    Steel is sometimes covered in velvet
    and...
    COURAGE doesn't always roar

    By Paula Fox

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  24. Esther you are so brave, strong you are amazi g.

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  25. Esther, I admire your strenght, courage and focus on God.I had the good fortune to meet you, Richard and your pretty daughter at valley church a few times.My heart goes out to you and I pray that you find peace.Lots of love xxxx

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  26. Amazing tribute to your husband Esther, great courage and love throughout. Jules Potter x

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. What you write is so humbling to read. Praying for you and your children and weeping with you. We too will miss Richard. It was a privilege to see him recently - I'm so glad we did. Sending our love and assurance of our continuing prayers. xx

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  28. Dear Esther - I've not had the privilege of meeting you, but as I have read your blog, I hear speaking a woman of deep courage, unfailing love and searing honesty - what a credit you are to Richard and your kids. I pray for you to know Peace and healing in the heartbreak...
    Paul (friend of Beth) xxxx

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  29. Esther, the Bustons send their love to you and your incredible family! Praying for Gods peace to flood your heart and home! Your an amazing lady x love Phil, Heather, Joel and Ethan x

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  30. Dear Esther I do not know you except that I have been praying for you and the children because a friend of yours asked me to.. As God wipes each tear drop and brings healing to you drop by drop i want you to know I will continue to pray for you and the children not because my friend asked me to but because you have blessed my heart from the depths of your pain and made God more real to me than the most incredible miracle could ever have. Take heart dear sister and the Lord be with you.

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  31. Dearest Esther, you are truly a woman of God. Your amazing faith in our Lord has remained steadfast and sure over the past several heartbreaking years. You have been an inspiration to many, many people all over the world.
    I will continue as always to keep you all in my prayers, I will especially pray that He will gently guide and carry you and the children throughout the coming weeks, months and years ahead.
    many blessings to you all. Xxxxx Dawn, Kevin and Ashley Parkes

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  32. Esther, you are an amazing inspirational woman with so much courage and faith. I wish I had an ounce of your strength and belief. My hear goes out to you and your wonderful family who I have not met but know about through friends. Prayers and blessings to you allxxx

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