By Guinn Sweet
“Blessed is the (wo)man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are thy ways, who going through the vale of misery use it for a well … they will go from strength to strength” (page 84, line 5, Prayer Book, 1662).
Just as fatigued and dehydrated man requires physical water, so does the spiritually fatigued and dehydrated (wo)man require the spiritual “water of life,” for day-to-day strength. We have become of a set existence, created and maintained through the dreaded waiting period of Colon’s waning life.
I must tell you that it is not all hopeless, due to the fact that Colon is being prepared to enter into an everlasting, painless life when he has finished his struggle with this one. It is I and our family who struggle with his last days. The actual truth is that he was totally pain-free until three weeks ago, when he fell and injured his back. Since that time, he has been in more-or-less constant pain. Not being able to diminish that pain has brought a sense of helplessness, even more, I think, than being able to rid him of the cancer. I know that he will survive that pain and eventually it will lessen, but the futility of not being able to help him over this pain has highlighted the fact that there is probably a greater pain coming, over which I will have even more futility of its not being in control.
We have been surrounded by those who love us both. I have help and understanding of a large number of friends. One of those friends drives by regularly and takes me to lunch, drives me around Freestone County, pointing out the homes of church friends and other points of historical interest. I had the pleasure and challenge to have been requested to edit a book just written by that friend regarding the history of Antioch Cemetery, a very long-existing area which was set aside more than one-hundred years ago as the resting place of Civil War survivors, soldiers and settling families of Freestone County. This was a pleasant activity which removed, somewhat, the day-to-day reminder of Colon’s condition, with the interest of a special time for this part of Texas.
Our family of adult children and grandchildren are also supportive, visit often, help us with chores, keeping the home and yard in highly livable condition, make sure that we keep appointments we have made with dentists, physicians and other “gotta dos.” I often feel that we are really taking advantage of them and we try to avoid excessive calling-on.
We have a church family which takes long steps in order to make me feel that they, too, are available for any kind of help. One of them keeps our firewood supply rounded up and ready for the cold weather, placing it under a shelter just a few steps from the back door. We are never at a loss for delicious soups, desserts and hot breads for our table. All of this, of course, cheers me and relieves me of extra duty.
We do have scheduled assistance from Hospice Care, which also provides the daily “extra care” every day of the week. From that area, I get to talk as long as I need to ask questions, better understand what is happening and become aware that these people have dealt with many others in our situation, to the point that they can be extremely helpful. Hospice also provides all of the generic, unprescribed medications, at no charge, which eases the cost of prescribed medications.
I am sure, as you read this, unless you have been in similar circumstances during your lifetime, will think, “Sounds like she has it easy,” and I do, to the extent of all the “things” that are done for me and furnished for Colon’s comfort. However, the spiritual needs are much more difficult to meet, and to cope with. I do depend on my relationship with the Lord to a great degree. I am aware that my comfort resides in His grace and power. However, in my mortal weaknesses, I become less than staunchly faithful. I am aware that He can give me complete ease and satisfaction in my position, but how often does sinful (wo)man assume authority over her problems before she goes back to her knees to appeal to her Lord to ease her pain! I often wish that, for his sake and comfort, Colon’s days can be shortened appreciably, but I often pray that his body have complete healing, now, and that he live a long, pain-free life. Then I realize that his only escape from the pain is to leave this trouble world for a far-better and everlasting place in the presence of God. Lord, please give me a drink from Your well. I believe!