Sunday, October 30, 2016

death & dementia

My brother Ronnie passed away Sept. 20th. He was 57 years old and battling cancer for the past 2 1/2 years. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma the same month my husband Randy was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Neither had a cure.

No matter how prepared you think you are, you never are. My heart is so sad, especially for those left behind... his devoted wife, his amazing kids and adorable grandkids. And his siblings ~ Kathy, Ginny, Gary, me and Kevin. We were honored to be asked to stand in the receiving line at the visitation. Hundreds poured through the doors giving us hugs and heartfelt condolences for over 3 1/2 hours.

We awoke the next morning to a cloudy, cold, drizzly day. Ronnie's Harley friends paid homage by gathering at the farm and riding their cycles in a procession to the funeral. What a site that must have been. The service was so honoring and heartfelt. Broke my heart sitting next to my Mom while she wept for her son. Parents are not suppose to outlive their children.

My brother was a successful farmer and continued to farm and work the land and ride his Harley to the very end. He fought a hard fight and knew the love and support from his many friends and family that showed up on his last days. Oh how he will be missed at Valley Ridge Farm and by the many who loved him dearly. I took this photo June, 2015. I will always remember him in his element, loving his family, friends and best friend Boji.

A former neighboring farmer said it best ~ 

"Ron was a tiller of the soil. 
His stewardship of it was a demonstration of his love of it's Creator".

My brother's childhood best friend wrote a beautiful article. 
Click HERE to read the story.

My husband was unable to enter into my grief and sadness. No empathy. In fact, every time I would tell him my brother died, it was as though he was hearing it for the first time. He would say "Really?!", and then change the subject or walk away. He loved and respected my brother so much. Heartbreaking to see him so removed from the reality of Ronnie's passing. I did ask him the other day about what my brother must be doing in heaven right now. And he replied "I know I would be visiting with Jesus". That made me so happy.

And I missed my kids and grandkids more than ever in the weeks following his death. Unbearable at times. We had unresolved issues and hurts before Randy's diagnose, and we all know, a crisis of any sort will either draw a fragile family together or tear it apart. Sadly our family has suffered the later. Which in many ways has been far worse than my husband's diagnose. I'm finding it so hard to trust God in this area of my life... to believe for healing and reconciliation. So I recently memorized this verse when I find myself circling the toilet.

The Lord is my Strength and my Shield. My heart trusts in Him and He helps me.
Psalm 28:7

My husband's best friend John Lynch wrote a book ~ "On My Worst Day". Today I will choose to believe by faith that this is Jesus... who He is... and how He sees me.

"I watch how hard you try to continue to draw near to me, even as I allow things into your life which utterly exasperate you. You're clinging to the belief that I am fully for you, and care more about you than you do. Then something happens which seems to undermine it all...I know. I watch. It deeply hurts me to watch you experience such disappointment and a broken heart. You might try to let me off the hook by reasoning I'm not fully in control of your world. Such thinking might maintain a measure of your affection for me--like giving a pass for a grandfather who loves you but can't always remember your name. But this lie will ultimately ruin our relationship. I am fully in control of your world. There is nothing that happens, doesn't happen, refused, or delayed without me seeing it, or allowing it. I am in control of your life. And I love you more than you love you. My character cannot and will not do wrong. I take whatever your race has brought on, and I redeem, refashion, and rework it all into beauty beyond anything you could have possibly imagined. All things. Horrible things. Evil things. Chronic things. I decide what is allowed through and what it will accomplish. I decide what needs to be refashioned. But mostly I stand in the arena, when you cannot stand, defending you and protecting you. I do not lecture; I do not mock. What I do is love you. No matter how angry you are at me, no matter what you imagine in your heart about me. I enter into your pain more deeply than even you. This I can do. This I will always do. Until we are home together in the land where tears cease."