Stan’s Journey: July 30, 2014

I haven’t posted anything for nearly a week.  It isn’t that I have simply been sitting around watching the Mariner’s loose and win (occasionally), but somehow writing about cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, and planning a memorial service doesn’t seem as if it is very interesting reading.  The time is drawing near as my brother from Albuquerque, NM and his oldest daughter (also a Lutheran pastor) from Chicago arrive tomorrow afternoon and then more arrive the next day.  So the time is drawing near.

It still feels so surreal.  I’m going through the motions, but …but it doesn’t feel “real.”  How often do I think, “I want to tell Diane this” or “I need to ask Diane.”  Following the advice of Basil Pennington, a Catholic writer that I am now digesting, I have placed a Bible (one of Diane’s old ones) in a prominent place in the living room.  I did so for three reasons:  1.  It is a reminder that God is present with me ALWAYS, even now; 2.  That I need to listen to the Voice of God speak to me through the varied means that God uses; 3.  And that as I deal with grief I am not to bury myself in the TV, but face each moment for what it gives to me.

Our thirteen months following Diane’s diagnosis of cancer was quite a remarkable journey, full of surprises, full of gifts, full of love and of life.  This next part of my life’s journey will be full of one thing for sure:  God!

Diane’s memorial will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 2nd.  It will start with a worship service in which the focus will be on our God who gives us life and even life eternal.  Then in the Fellowship Hall, we will have a celebration of Diane’s life which will be full of sharing and laughter and perhaps tears also.    Diane’s desire was that part of her ashes would be spread at a cabin belonging to her extended family and so Peter, Paulie, Andrew and I will head to the Gallatin River in MT on Aug. 4th, followed by a number of days together in Yellowstone Park, which is only about 30 miles from the cabin.  Then Diane’s desire was that half of her ashes also be spread at Immanuel Lutheran’s cemetery, and so on August 17th we will be in worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Everson, WA and following their second service (approximately noon) we will have a “graveside” service with the spreading of her ashes in the church cemetery.  Those who would like to join us are definitely welcomed.

One more date:  August 24th, ready or not, I will be returning to Grace Lutheran Church and am scheduled to preach on that date.  I am glad that I have a definite date to be back at Grace and am looking forward to returning.  So now the journey continues, one day at a time, one moment at at time.

Stan’s Journey: July 24, 2014

There have been no crashing waves of grief, no thunder bolts of emotion.  What there has been is a steady stream of activity, sharing of stories and memories that have often brought laughter.  There has been a creeping feeling of loneliness.   There have been people to see, things to do, places to go and, therefore, not a lot of time to reflect and grieve.  But it will come.

REQUEST:  If you have stories concerning Diane, please post them either on this blog, on my Facebook page, or email them to me at pastorstan@gotgrace.com.    We would like to use them somehow during the reception following Diane’s memorial at Grace Lutheran.

Grace Lutheran Church ( 22975 24th Av S  Des Moines, WA) will be the place of her memorial on August 2, 2014 at 1 p.m.  This will be a time to worship the God of Life and then a time to celebrate the life of Diane.

Stan’s Journey: July 21, 2014

There was no question in my mind that I would be in worship on Sunday morning.  The only question that I had was would my family be with me.  They had no question in their minds that they would, and so we sat in the back pew, saved for us by friend Gretchen and joined by Barb and her husband Saint Thomas!  (inside joke).   I was where I belonged!

Yesterday, after worship, lunch at Barbecue Pete’s in Kent, and a visit to Bianca and her parents (Bianca is the little girl Diane babysat for approximately two years) Peter and Paulie and Andrew went through thousands of pictures which contained ten thousands of memories.  I continued to be on the phone.  We all did what what we needed to do.

Memorial date and time have been set:  SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2014 1 p.m. at Grace Lutheran in Des Moines, WA.  It will be a time of worship with much music followed by a time of celebrating Diane’s life with tears and laughter and fellowship (remember, relationships are what is important!)

Stan’s Journey: July 20, 2014

I’ve dreaded writing on the blog.  It tells me of finality.  It reminds me of grief.  No, I have not  wanted to write on this blog and call it “Stan’s Journey,” but writing is part of the process of healing for me.  It is needed, just hard.

I’m not even sure what to say.  Do I write more about happened at 11:28 p.m., July 18th?  Do I say more of how my Beloved so quietly slid from this life to the next?  Diane had a life motto or philosophy:  she did not believe that she was to “seize the day,” to actively pursue life, but that life itself and all that it gives, all that God gives, would simply come to her.  Diane and I were very different in that way.  She would wait for the door to open for her and I would want to break the door down so that we could go forward.  She would wait and watch for the flower to open, and I would want to pry the blossom open.

Diane did not run head-long into eternity, her new home came to her in quietness and grace, in stillness and beauty.  It all was truly the way Diane lived and how she died.

So the Psalm for this day for me is Psalm 131 for those of you who want to look it up.

Stan’s Journey: 11:28 p.m. July 18, 2014

While family and few friends sang, Diane very quietly left this world and entered into the next.  She begins a new journey, a journey that is beyond our wildest imagination, while we on this side of eternity begin new aspects, new roads in our personal and family journeys also.

Thank you for all your prayers, all your love, all your support.  I will continue this blog and will post needed information and personal reflections in the time ahead.  Diane is now FREE, FREE at last!

Diane and Stan’s Journey: July 18, 2014

Another  day, and more struggles to breath.  Diane continues the journey, but barely and yet she does.  I cried beside her, not for Diane nor for me, but for my sons.  How can this show them the goodness of God?  How can this draw them to faith?  Peter was up with me, no with his mother, until about 3 a.m. and I am scared for him.  His faith is so fragile, barely hanging on.  Lord, please, please hold him tight.

Diane and Stan’s Journey: July 17, 2014

I find that I have to disagree with Jesus.  In this case I think he was wrong.  He said that the “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  I think that Diane’s spirit is very willing, but her flesh, her body is extremely strong, even riddled with cancer.  She is ready to go “home,” but for some reason her body fights death with every tooth and nail.  She still hangs on and on and on.  It is just getting harder to do so.

Earlier last evening Pastor Jason and his wife Danae came over to say their good byes.  Last Sunday was Jason’s last Sunday at Grace Lutheran as he will be moving to MN.   Asking how they might help, I said that I needed a good night’s rest since I have not had a full sleep for at least a week and a half.  No problem, Jason is a night owl so he came back sometime after 10 p.m. (I was already asleep when he came) and he stayed until 5 a.m.  Again, God’s timing and God’s provision when we needed it.

Also yesterday dear friends from our days at Immanuel Lutheran, but who now live in Port Angeles, WA made the two hour trip to say their good byes.  They were here ten minutes and then had to start home as Martha’s body began to become stiff from her Parkinson’s Disease.

Diane is struggling more with getting her breath or with coughing, not totally sure.  What more does she have to go through?

The following are thoughts written 45 minutes after the above, after spending more time in the Scriptures and with our Lord.  My dear sister said, “Stan, read the Psalms.”  The Psalms are my daily diet and here is the word for the day to me specifically:

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore.” 125:2

” May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.  Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.”   126: 5,6

” Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.”  127:1,2

Diane and Stan’s Journey: July 16, 2014

How many times have I as a pastor gathered around the bed of a person who is dying?  How many times has there simply been silence as all eyes are focussed upon the loved one?  And then something breaks the spell and there is conversation, memories shared, laughter offered as a sacrifice to death.

How many times in the past couple of days has that time honored cycle happened here in our home, but the one who captures our attention is my Beloved?  How different that is!  How exhausting!  And the cycle continues another day as morning light begins to spotlight the neighborhood.

Early last evening a Hospice nurse put in a catheter as Diane is no longer able to transfer to a commode.  Weakness is now measured in little things: the inability to raise her hand, focus her eyes, swallow.  How long, O Lord, how long?

 

Diane and Stan’s Journey: July 15, 2014

How do I describe heaven?   How do I write about things that are so spiritual, so deep that words cannot express the beauty, the awe and mystery of it all?  How do I tell of events that happened because of a long history but have arrows to future glory as well?  I know I am writing in metaphor, writing as if I have not had enough sleep, but the events were so profound that I do not want to ever forget them.

Last evening began with Andrew and I again having the sense of finality, of the end racing toward us, but it was not to be.  Last night was not about the end of life, but the beauty of life and of relationships.  Why is that not surprising when it comes to Diane?

Ellen and daughter Mickayla came to see Diane and to say good byes, expecting to see a dying body with no spirit.  Instead Mickayla received Diane’s blessings, the blessing of the elder to the younger, the blessing of the spiritual guide to the one who is young in faith, but vibrant in faith as well.  Will Mickayla forget that night as she goes on to experience adventure after adventure in her life?  I do not think so.

But the evening was just beginning.  Here is were some personal history is needed for all of you who have only known Diane through recent journeys.  In the late 1990’s while I was a pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church near Everson, WA the congregation was led by God’s Spirit, not into a ministry to Hispanics, but into a friendship and a fellowship with Hispanics who live in the area.  We were not involved in “doing things for them” but in getting to know them, getting to love them, becoming one with them, eating with them, singing with them and, of course, Diane fell in love with each and every one of them.

Last night the patriarch and matriarch of a large extended Mexican family  (I am not using names here) came with friends, Joe and Sylvia who have been involved from the conception of this adventure in friendship.  They came to sing for Diane, but instead they sang with Diane.  (Of course, they also came bearing the best Michoacan cooking possible north of the Rio Grande.)  They came to say good byes, which they did, but we were all caught into the reality of Revelation 7 when people of every nation and every tongue and every tribe will be together around the throne of God in praise of the one God who makes us all one, in spite of language differences and cultural differences.

Then the night continued with Barb, Diane’s friend from Barb’s youth at Glendale Lutheran where Diane was Barb’s spiritual counselor in the youth program.  Barb, Andrew and I gathered around Diane’s bed, expecting to hear last weakening breaths, but instead we were greeted by stronger and stronger breathing.  God is not done with Diane yet.  I wonder who else is to be blessed by her presence, by the Spirit of God bubbling up within her very being?

Diane and Stan’s Journey: July 14, 2014 (updated at 2 p.m.)

Darkness still covers the land.  Andrew is snoring (sorry, Andrew, your personal secret is out: Yes, you snore!) on the sofa and I sent Peter upstairs to go to sleep.  The change of shift news is that Diane has had a restless night, even as she had a restless evening.  This is a change.  What is happening?  No sure.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Yesterday was Sunday.  It was Pastor Jason’s last Sunday at Grace Lutheran as he has been called to a congregation in MN.  I wanted to attend for that reason, and I also needed to attend to hear the promises of God for myself and for Diane.  The home front was covered as we had our required (our family requirement) two people on duty, so I was free to attend.  As I stood to sing praise songs I realized how emotionally drained I am.  It took being in worship to impress on me my own tiredness, emotionally and physically.

I do so appreciate all the prayers and the support that we have received.  This journey would be so, so much harder without your love, prayers and support.

(Update)

Friend and nurse Barb Johannsen just made a comment, “Diane is much more at peace now.”  Then she went on to make the distinction between restlessness as a result of the physical response to the dying process and peace being that of the spirit.  At this time, Diane seems very much more at peace, even as her body is more and more shutting down.  The Hospice nurse was just here and she commented upon the change that has happened since the middle of last week.

No one knows the time, but the time is getting shorter and Diane at peace is definitely part of God’s timing.