Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 36 - Solitude

I spent all of yesterday at home. It was a day to do homework, a day to catch up on things I'd left undone, to clean a little, rest a little. Mostly I did a lot of school stuff. At the end of the day, I'd accomplished quite a bit, but I was also hit with the sad realization that I have no life.

I know, I know... last week I spent every single day visiting with friends, having a sleepover, going to disneyland, hanging out, sharing meals, going biking, going shopping... and this week I say I have no life.

I've got school and I've got friends and family. My day could be full of activity and companionship, but at the end of it all, I climb into bed alone. I know I've done that every day of my life for 26 years and how in the world did 6 months of marriage change all that... I don't know. I feel it a lot more now that I know what I'm missing. I feel like being with Anderson was where I was meant to be. It was right. It was perfect. I had a place. I had a life.

Where am I now? I'm somehow back to square one and not an hour goes by that I don't wish that he were still here with me. I miss him. I miss our life together.

It wasn't easy though. Every now and then I'll get a flashback and remember how his body slowly started failing him. He couldn't write anymore. Someone saw his writing in Houston and thought that it was a child's handwriting. He couldn't walk on his own. I always had to hold him steady. He had to be fed because it was difficult for him to coordinate use of a knife and fork. Towards the end, he couldn't even talk. He could only blink his eyes, nod or shake his head. His hands, which were his weakest asset only a few weeks before, became his strongest one as he lost control of the rest of his body.

I was with him every single step of his journey for the last 6 months of his life. He was rarely "alone" (as in, without someone with him), but he was forced to endure life in his failing body... and in that sense, he was alone. It was his burden to bear. No matter how hard I tried to make things easier for him, I could never truly remove any of his burden. The thing about brain cancer... there's nothing physically wrong with your body except that you're slowly losing control of it. He was slowly being imprisoned by his failing body. Towards the end, he was floating in and out of consciousness, but I'm guessing he was still in there... unable to move. That is solitude.

How many of us could succumb to depression or despair when forced to endure the kind of imprisonment/solitude that Anderson had to endure? Or even actual imprisonment where we are forced to sit in solitude, only dreaming of or imagining what life is like for those on the "outside"? I can barely get myself to sit still for 5 minutes during the day. He had to live life doing less and less and less, to the point where he could do and control nothing. That would probably drive me insane.

I wonder if he knew how hard it would be for me and for those he left behind. I think he did. All he could talk about was taking care of me and how it hurt him to see us so sad. Every single night we spent together, he'd tell me that everything would be OK. I distinctly remember only one day, early on in our marriage, where we cried together and he told me he didn't want to die. Towards the end, he welcomed death. He pleaded with us not to make him endure this torture anymore. He told me he felt torn. He wanted to end the torture, but he also wanted to stay with us as long as he could. I read him the verse in Philippians 1 (below), and he said that was exactly how he felt.
22-26 As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I'd choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it's better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We'll be praising Christ, enjoying each other. (The Message)
Paul was imprisoned when he wrote these words. He also said earlier on in the chapter that his imprisonment has had the opposite of its intended effect. It had not squelched the gospel or the message of Christ, it had only served to strengthen and spread it. And the same was true for Anderson. While his body grew weaker, his faith grew stronger. There was not a time in his life where so many people had come together in unity, in prayer, in fasting as during those last weeks of his life. We have heard some, but not all of the stories about how your lives had been touched by him and your faith renewed. I'm still interested in hearing your stories if you are still willing to share them.

Oh the heavenly consolation that God has caused to flow out of places of solitude. - S. C Rees.

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