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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

My father, Bill McGee, passed away on May 31, 2017. He arrived at our house on Thanksgiving Day last fall, awaiting the birth of this granddaughter two weeks later and complaining of a strange rash that suddenly popped up on him. It took until March for him to be diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma. By then, it had progressed too far, and despite enduring more physical suffering than I can even appreciate and trying so very hard to fight it, he accepted the reality of his condition, said his goodbyes to us all, and let things take their course. Bart, the kids, and I were back home for his passing and the funeral and have since returned home. In the meantime, I am slowly processing through what happened and adjusting to this new paradigm. Today I wanted to write about my dad, especially in time for a bittersweet Father’s Day, and honor his life and what he meant to me and those around him.

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I didn’t anticipate being so long away from the blog, or home for that matter, so soon after our last trip. But last Sunday night as we were preparing for another normal work week, we got word that Bart’s grandfather had just passed away, and our plans changed almost immediately.

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JOY

Saturday, I heard the unexpected news that my friend’s mom, Pat, was undergoing a pretty serious surgery. I didn’t realize that she had fallen ill recently; I had seen her online and even interacted with her the week before on Facebook, so that revelation came out of left field for me.

I talked to my friend, Kenda, for a while that evening to encourage her. Pat came out of surgery alright but still in fragile condition. Kenda flew home to be with the family over Memorial Day and kept me updated a bit on her condition.

Yesterday I came home after work and began fixing dinner with Bart. While waiting for our meal to cook, I quickly scanned Facebook and suddenly got the news from multiple friends and relatives that Pat had passed away that afternoon.

This news also stunned me a bit. I knew that even as she came out of surgery, she was still battling other health issues that had an unsure prognosis, but there was still some hope things could turn around. However, it appeared that through Monday night her condition hadn’t improved.

I tried processing the news. I had a few tears; Bart gently consoled me, and we prayed for the family. The thought of Kenda, who was so very, very close to her mom, saying goodbye for the last time ripped my heart inside. Then, I quietly fell into an odd listlessness. I was thinking about Pat and her family, and I was clearly sad, but I was overcome more with disbelief than sorrow. Some people get old and ill and you aren’t surprised at their passing; some still seem young and vibrant, and to have them taken by illness is a bit surreal. I feel a bit of guilt at my stunned silence, which honestly continues at this moment, but I’m sure the reality will soon sink in and I will be able to grieve properly.

I’ve been friends with Kenda a long time. We grew up in the same hometown, and though she’s a couple of years younger than me, we’ve known each other through school, through church, through summer jobs. In college, I even introduced her to my other long-time friend Nathan…and they just celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary! You may recall that they were our very first house guests after we moved to DC.

Along with our friendship, I got to know her mother Pat as well. Indeed, it seems everyone knew Pat. The outpouring on Facebook during her surgery and now her passing has been tremendous. She touched so many lives through her family, her friends, the community, and her ministries. What a godly woman who embodied every verse of Psalm 31. Having a testimony like hers is all I could ever aspire to in my life.

She was an avid writer and cook. She even merged the two into a blog and even her a cookbook. She absolutely loved her family and took such joy in her husband and children and grandchildren. Joy…..this one simple word was, in fact, her entire life’s motto. Everything she did, she did with JOY.

I have many fond memories of her, especially as I became an adult and became her friend instead of just a friend of her daughter. She read this blog regularly and always had an encouraging comment. Just last week, she told me my museum crawl made her wish she could visit Washington, D.C., and I told her we would love to see her in this neck of the woods. I recall meeting her for breakfast when I was in town visiting a couple of years ago. She gave me a sweet gift of some home-made crocheted kitchen towels and her very own cookbook which she had just published. And Bart and I will never forget visiting her house with Kenda and Nathan and eating rum cake absolutely saturated in rum! (She later gave me a recipe that was toned down a little, haha ;))

Maybe one of the reasons I am slow to process her passing is because I know it’s only temporary. For her, she is now perfectly restored in mind and body and spirit. She gets to wait with Christ for the rest of her family to get there eventually. It feels so trite to say that a loved one “is in a better place.” For one, that doesn’t erase our pain of being without them here and now. Secondly, even though I have salvation through Christ, I’m still stuck in this world, and my simple human mind just isn’t capable of understanding how vastly superior eternal fellowship with God is compared to the temporary things of this world. It’s all I’m familiar with, so death is a big unknown, and even if the unknown is a better option, it’s still scary to think about.

However, despite my feelings, I know for sure and have faith that this is the reward of all who accept Christ’s gift of eternal life. Pat’s life on earth absolutely demonstrated without doubt where her heart and hope lay. So, while we on earth still grapple with this news, I am thankful for what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13).” Without Christ, there is no hope in death, only despair. But because of Christ’s reconciliatory work of the cross, all who believe have the hope of eternal life. And Paul doesn’t say we don’t grieve at all in sorrow and death; we will still mourn, but we will be comforted in knowing we’ll see Pat again. I know she will be overJOYed to see us there.

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