Last week I received a text from a close friend saying she was thinking about me because she knew July might bring me a lot of intense emotions. It sure does. July 26th will mark three years since my late husband, Andrew, has been gone. Even on a subconscious level July is an emotionally difficult month for me. I’m super sensitive to hearing cancer stories and I get tearful at the drop of a hat because everything reminds me of Andrew. For example, a couple of weeks ago I sold my car and bought a new one. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to purchase a new car for my family. As I was cleaning out my old car to hand it over to the dealership my heart became instantly heavy and out of nowhere, tears began rolling down my face. The movie of my life with Andrew projected onto the screen in my mind and I saw scenes of us laughing hysterically, singing loudly, and dancing ridiculously to music on our long drives back and forth to M.D Anderson cancer hospital. I saw us having deep, thought-provoking conversations, and I saw me holding his hand and I felt the love we had for each other. This car held some of my final memories with Andrew and in letting it go I grieved over taking another step in letting go of what was.
I don’t want to forget him and I don’t want others to forget him. Honestly, I know I could never forget him as his impact lingers daily in my soul and his legacy pushes me to face my fears, truly live, and see each day as a gift. Looking back I see how God carried us through those final 10 months of Andrew’s life, because the reality of the circumstances were unbearable.
Haruki Murakami says, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In my experience, focusing on Andrew’s gifts, the positive impact he had on the lives of others, and his upstanding character helps keep me from suffering. One of the most helpful tools I’ve learned from my therapist, coaches, books, conferences, etc., has been gaining control of my thoughts, as I’ve learned my thoughts lead to my feelings, which lead to my actions. It’s a daily work-in-progress, but I find suffering starts with my thoughts. What we focus on expands in our minds and becomes the reality from which we act. I allow myself to feel the pain of our loss and I’m aware of the moments I’m teetering on suffering and in those times, I grab ahold of my thoughts and take them where I want them to go. I focus instead on my memories of Andrew’s legacy of faith, hope, and love.
It helps me to know Andrew is no longer suffering so neither should I, nor would he want me to be. In his process of dying, he taught me how to live. Life can be short and I refuse to spend it suffering. I believe we were each given special gifts to use for specific purposes on this earth and it’s our job to reconnect to those gifts and use them to help make a positive difference in the world. That’s what I watched Andrew do in the final months of his life. Now, more than ever, the world needs us to be who God created us to be in order to show love to those who are suffering. Go be love! Blessings.
PS – If you’re looking to motivate, inspire, and encourage a group you are a part of, I would love to come share my message of how each and every one of us can transform our most challenging times into the most meaningful and purposeful path for our lives. Email me at email@example.com
Bailey, you are such an inspiration to me. Even though I do not know you personally you are my “Sister in Christ” and I have learned so much from you in your writings. The article “Pain vs Suffering” is absolutely awesome. I admire you and pray for you, Ellie and both of the families daily. I am so grateful for you and pray that God will bestow His richest blessings upon you and your family. Shalom, Roma
Hi Roma! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so grateful you’ve been inspired by my family’s journey. That is always my heart and hope for sharing my experiences. It blesses me that although we’ve never met we are connected through the Lord and through sharing our hearts. I’m grateful for you Roma and for all of your love and support over the years. Thank you for shining Christ’s love my direction. You are a light! Blessings.