I’m posting irregularly this week in celebration of my Sister’s birthday.
Sammul’s Log: July 24th, 2018
I have tried to start this log multiple different ways.
I actually have an entirely written and edited log saved that I planned to put out today, but as I was reading through it, it felt too theatrical and larger than life to me. So I would like to share some thoughts very openly and without unnecessary spectacle.
I lost my sister earlier this year to Stage IV adrenal cancer.
January 22nd, 2018 at 12:10am.
I held her hand as she passed, and it was the most meaningful moment of my life.
Today would have been her 20th birthday.
The day she passed was only 10 months after her diagnosis date, which for some, is a long time to survive in stage IV.
She did everything she could outside of the standard treatments.
Did the research, and followed the regime. Even went to Mexico for three months to a specialist center for the naturalistic style of treatment we were using.
She was really doing some great things.
But one of the lessons I’ve learned from this process is that sometimes a story just has to end in a period.
For her birthday, I’d like to share the story of what happened the night before she passed.
We knew that she wasn’t going to last much longer, and coming back to health wasn’t really a part of our conversations anymore.
Mom was in her room with her, and the nurses were in and out quite often through the night.
I stayed at the hospital the nights of the 20th and 21st, both for moral support and to spend some time with Mom and Mary while I could. I held it together on the outside pretty well I think, but inside, I was really freaking out.
In order to work some stuff out, I left the room and sat in the lobby with my dulcimer.
I sat and thought about faith mostly, and what it is that brings miracles. The moments in scripture when someone was healed or something turns completely around from the way it was. Faith, I understood, was always involved.
Faith isn’t what I thought it was.
While I thought and prayed about these things, I played my dulcimer, strumming quietly in the lobby. Trying to show to God, through action, that I was going to find a way to be ok with whatever decision He decided to make that night. I asked for Him to tell me how the idea of Faith worked in the past. Why some people are healed and some aren’t.
At the same time as I was having these thoughts, I was drawn to two stories.
The story of Lazarus (John 11) and the story of the Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13).
If you aren’t big on Bible stories, I understand, but please keep reading, there’s something here for everyone to take away.
First, here’s a synopsis of the passages.
Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus’. He fell ill and his sickness progressed to near death. So Lazarus’s friends and family sent word to Jesus of Lazarus’s condition.
When Jesus got the message he stayed where he was for an additional three days, and intentionally got there late.
By the time he got there, Lazarus had already died and been dead for a few days. Jesus insisted that there was something more to the story than Lazarus simply dying, and the others there were appalled that he would be so disrespectful of the solemnity of the situation. Jesus had them move the stone from the tomb, and he called out to Lazarus, and Lazarus came out of the tomb completely alive and well.
A centurion came up to Jesus one day and told of the sickness of his servant back at home. Jesus was about to come with him to his house when the centurion said that Jesus didn’t even have to come to his house. He understood the power of God and insisted that Jesus was able to cleanse his servant from where he was. The same way that he commanded soldiers where to go and what to do, Jesus could do the same with sickness and human conditions.
Jesus said that the man had great faith, and the servant was healed immediately.
Both of these stories involve sicknesses and death, and both stories involve an interesting healing.
Jesus seemed unimpressed with the faith of Lazarus’s family and friends but still raised Lazarus. As a result, all the people there were shocked (as I’m sure most of us would be as well) that Jesus would/could do that.
Conversely, He was very impressed with the Centurions’ faith, and his understanding of the universal power that Jesus possessed. In response, Jesus healed the servant from afar.
One of the things that took my attention in these stories, was the perspective of the family and friends at Lazarus’s tomb.
They had to sit through the days of sickness, and declining health, as Lazarus slowly drifted away, praying that Jesus would show up to stop the worst from happening. But eventually, the worst did happen.
Lazarus died, and they buried him. Multiple days later, while they were still mourning, Jesus showed up finally.
I’ve always thought, “How could Jesus ignore their sorrow? What did He expect from them? Didn’t He know what they were going through?”
The fact is, He did know what they were going through. Lazarus was His friend too, and when He saw the burial site, He wept as well. He mourned the loss that took place. Even though that loss is what Jesus used to bring about the desired end which, in this case, was Lazarus’s resurrection.
In my case, sitting in the hospital waiting room, I didn’t think that was what Jesus had in mind for mine and Mary’s story. It just didn’t happen that way very often.
I understood that Jesus works the way that He does in order to teach something. To bring something to light that wasn’t there before. He isn’t impulsive or changeable.
In the case of Lazarus, the resurrection was the best avenue for the lesson, but with my situation, there might be another.
So, my prayer changed there in the waiting room.
I began to ask Him, not only to comfort us, and not only to heal Mary but to help us to be alert. Help us to understand the lesson(s) that He was using Mary to teach us. About faith, and about Him. About death, and about eternal life.
Lazarus’s story was specifically about faith that Jesus would show up. Sure enough, He did, just not how they expected.
The centurion’s story was also about faith, but about how the man understood that Jesus got to make the call. He pulled rank.
In thinking these stories over, and praying for clarity from God, I learned a lesson that day. and it goes something like this:
Having faith doesn’t mean that you believe He will do the “right” thing, (that is to say that He will do what you believe to be “right”) but rather that you believe that whatever it is that He decides to do is the right thing.
He pulls rank!
It’s our job to be vigilant, and praise God for showing up. Believe me, He will, in some way, shape, or form.
I prayed that night that God would show up, knowing that He would. Even if Mary didn’t make it through the night, I knew that this would be Jesus making a period on a story.
Creating a greater lesson.
Beginning a bigger picture.
Faith isn’t what I thought it was. It’s not just asking Him for things He already gave, or else just thinking really hard about how much you want something.
It’s about asking. Then believing that He hears and knows best, and then finally, waiting patiently for Him to show up. Believing that He will because He will. Even if it’s after Lazarus dies.
Ask, Believe, Wait, Believe.
I can tell that God is doing something really cool. I don’t know what yet, but I know for a fact that it kicked into a higher gear once Mary left us.
I miss Mary, and I have had dreams in the last months, where she walks in the door. I can’t tell you how happy it makes dream-me to see her. I feel that hole filled briefly, that I’ve begun to get used to being there.
Some days I’m afraid that I will get too used to it.
I love Mary, but even though she was my best friend, I understand that she was just a part of a bigger picture.
I think she knew that too, especially at the end. I
know that because she was a storyteller too.
Just like her Father.
She shared some of her perspective on her health dilemma a few weeks before she passed. It’s really powerful stuff, and I’d encourage you to watch it if you haven’t before.
I’ll link to it here:
For now, take care all.
Don’t forget to love on those you have while you have them.
*The cover picture is ironically a pendant of Mary’s that I got after she passed. I keep it with the firefly pendant from The Last of Us which stands for finding a light in the darkness.*