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Friday, June 15, 2012

Mortality: Parents, Conclusion

On the way to the Homecoming activities at the UM in Missoula, my best friend, Martha*, was stopped by the Highway Patrol. The trooper told them they needed to return home. A short time before my boyfriend arrived with the anticipated gigantic smile, bearhug, and kiss, the phone in my dorm room startled me out of my daydreams of the weekend. “My father’s dead.” How could it be happening to her, to them? It had only been a few short months since the death of her mother. Needless to say, my own boyfriend was not any too excited to get back in his car and return, with his sobbing girlfriend pressed close to his side. They were his friends, too, so he understood a change in plans was needed. I had so long anticipated our first reunion after heading off to higher education would be full of excited details of what our new lives had been like so far. I still got the smile, bearhug and kiss but the long drive back home was pretty sobering and quiet. When we arrived at Martha’s doorstep, her greeting was a solemn declaration of the facts.

“We’re orphans now.” Nothing much anyone can say at such a moment.

How can anything good come out of this horrible experience for Martha and her family? Where was God in all of this pain? Why didn’t He stop it? Yes, I hear your questions, dear Reader; I’ve been there, too!

First, let me say that God’s plan and purpose for our lives does not always make a lot of sense to us. That’s because our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways not His ways, according to the Bible. We are not perfect. We do not see what is ahead of us and can remember little of what is behind us. We only know the present moment and how the present event is affecting us right now. God knows what has gone in the past, what is happening in the present and what will be in the future. He takes all of this information into account when He either acts or doesn’t act in the way we would prefer. At all times He is just and His way is perfect for He can be no other way; He is God. Don’t confuse that with us having a pain-free life, however. Pain has its purpose, too.

One thing I can tell you is that, while it was a very difficult time for her family, this experience with her mother molded Martha’s choice of careers. Yes, she did become a nurse and, I have no doubt, was a really good one. Still, she longed for more education in the sciences and became a medical doctor in her 30’s. I had the joy of a reunion with her after four decades, in April of 2011. Martha is the Medical Director of a Hospice in Washington. The wonderfully loving care of a team of professionally-licensed people that was not available to her own mother in the last months of her life, is now being offered to many families with a loved one in that same situation, under Martha’s capable direction. She knows how it feels; she knows what is needed.  Martha sees that the families are cared for as much as the terminally ill patient’s needs are met. Dying is a family affair and the hospice programs have arisen to meet that need. Dr. Martha is a key player for many such families.

The issue of why God doesn’t always step in to prevent such sorrow when it just seems to be the right thing for Him to do in our eyes, will be dealt with in a later post. I dare say, there are a lot of things about life along this journey that are a puzzle. What I do know is God is just and never does anything without a good reason… including not stepping in. We may not know the why’s now, but we can trust Him. In the meantime, we can learn from the words of King Solomon… there is a time for everything under Heaven.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die…” (Verse 2)  

“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… “(Verse 4)

”…a time to be silent and a time to speak,” (Verse 7)

I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.” (Verses 10-14)

*Name has been changed.

****Have a good weekend and Happy Fathers Day, Dads!

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