Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Journey Started

Do you know how many times I've heard people say, "It seems like only yesterday"? I hate that phrase and yet in my case, it is true. I remember so many details of the day it's scary. It was October 21, 2007. I was on my way to my church and it was rather early for a Saturday morning. We were hosting a "Women's Day" at the church and I was teaching a session. I left the house around 7:30 a.m. to get my classroom ready. On the way there, I turned on the car radio...which I rarely do, by the way - I don't like radio "noise" first thing in the morning.

The radio is always tuned to K-Love (unless one of my grown daughters borrows the car and changes my channel). A woman was talking about how she had survived cancer and had prayed that God would provide her with enough income to enable her to minister and encourage other cancer patience. Her prayer was answered in an amazing way - her oncologist called her and offered her a full time job to visit his patience to pray with them!

As I listened to this story, it dawned on me that I had not really known anyone close to me with cancer. I worked with two different women who had breast cancer but they were okay after chemo and I wasn't exactly close to them, if you know what I mean. I felt compelled to pray that God would prepare my heart to one day hear the heart breaking news one day that someone I deeply love is diagnosed with cancer. After all, I am getting older and odds are I'd know someone soon who would have it. I thought deep down in the quiet place of my mind that it might one day be my mother. Little did I know that God was preparing my heart right and then to hear the news that afternoon!

After Women's Day, my husband Vinnie arrived to help a crew of other men move chairs back and get the worship center ready for Sunday morning. He stopped me before he entered the building. He casually mentioned that his urologist called him earlier that day. He'd been referred to a urologist when a seemingly stubborn bladder infection would not go away. It had been causing Vinnie discomfort for almost a year! The doctor called him that morning with the results of a recent test - he had a tumor in the bladder and it was cancerous!

As horrible as the news was, I was also overwhelmed by the fact that God, my Heavenly Father, was so gracious and kind, that He (the Holy Spirit) prompted me to turn that radio on earlier that morning and compelled me to pray for my heart to be prepared. The whole time God was doing just that! What a loving God! Perhaps there are some people who would have been mad at God for allowing their spouse and friend of almost 25 years to get cancer in the first place, but I never saw it that way. I know people get cancer. It's one of the results of living in a fallen world, a world far removed from the utopia we were meant to live in. And if Christians can't be light in the struggle of cancer, how will anyone else see God when they need to most - when they may be close to the end of their time on earth?! No, I wasn't upset that God let this happen. This stuff happens. I will never forget how very blessed I felt that God prepared me to hear this terrible sad news.

I knew we were in for a long journey. I do believe deep down in my heart I knew Vinnie would die from the cancer but I didn't know when, and I was given hope several times from doctors and thought many times that I was wrong, that he would survive it. He didn't.

I am terribly sad to no longer have my sweet Vinnie here with me. I miss his crazy voice and that Italian accent of his! I long to hear it sometimes, and though it makes me cry like a baby, I listen to his voice that I have on a CD sometimes. I will always have his voice to listen to. I'd like more than that most of the time, but I do have that and I am thankful for modern technology for this.

My pain, sorrow, and sadness are still quite raw and I am still trying to figure out what my life without Vinnie is suppose to be like. I guess I will have a different lifestyle now. It is hard to accept the title of widow but that is what I am - a widow. It will be long road to travel, an adventure I don't really want - but I am still here and I don't want to live without joy. So I look for ways to experience joy - with family and friends. Will you take the journey with me? I'd love for you to "meet" my Vinnie; TONS of people of just loved him to pieces. I know you will too. I also hope it will encourage you - after all, I have an awesome Shepherd who will be holding my hand as I walk it, and some pretty awesome people in life helped too. I'll tell you all about it and with Him in the lead, it is sure to be awesome trip!


Patti Sheridan said...

Hi Mrs. S.
My name is Melissa Sheridan. My Mom, Patti, is a friend of your Mom and I am also a friend of your Mom. She is the best. I signed my Mom, Patti, up to folow your blog. My deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband.

gsanseverino said...

Wow...this was something I wanted to do to keep a record of this journey with Vinnie. I had hoped that there'd be others who would be encouraged by God's hand at work in our lives through all this but since I wasn't really sure anyone would really read it, I slacked off from writing. I have many stories! Now that I know there are readers, I will keep up. Thanks for the encouragement!

Patti Sheridan said...

God is indeed good. :)
-Melissa Sheridan

Melissa M S said...

Hi Mrs. S.
It's Melissa Sheridan

Nam Sook Kang is my birth name
M M S is my initials.

Gailie said...

Patti & Melissa, thank you for your prayers and for the friendship you have with my mom. I know you must have fun with her. She is a hoot!

Melissa M S said...

Hi Mrs. S.
Yes, your Mom is so cute. My Mom and I love her laugh. Your faith is an inspiration to us. Thank you for that.
-Melissa Sheridan
God bless you always. You and your family have my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gail, I didnt realize that you were doing a blog, but I think its a great idea. Michael misses Vinne so much and like you his voice is something that he longs to hear. Michael has a message from his dad saved on his voicemail and about once a week he listens to it and continues to save it. I believe that it gives him comfort to know that his dad isnt so far away. God bless modern technology.

Gailie said...

You are so right, Stephanie. We are so blessed by modern technologies! We were always so caught up in the hub-bub of taking care of Vinnie that I often never got to help others know what we were all going through. There's so much I can't write about, but I hope that writing will help someone else out there who may be going through something similar. I want others to know that though the journey is really hard, God walks it with us! I miss Vinnie so much too - especially, for some reason, early in the morning. (It's my best crying time) but God is still on the journey with us. I keep thinking of Jesus as our shepherd. That's the way I need Him now - to guide me, protect me, and be my eyes, ears, and brain for me some days! I am so glad Michael has you too, my sweet new sister-in-law!

Dena said...

Hi there, I just found you through Sylvia's site. We just moved here a couple of years ago, but we've made some very special friends. Some of which are Mike & Sue T. They have been sharing your story with us along the way. I'm so very sorry for your loss. But what a sweet special man he was. I love your joy, what an inspiration to us all. Thank you.

Gailie said...

Thank you for your note, Dena. You have found me through some awesome friends. We continue to be hit by the loss of loved ones and it's going to be a difficult year for holidays (my step son died yesterday). As I was driving home from visiting my new daughter-in-law in the hospital who has become a widow after three weeks of marriage, I could hear a whisper - "in all things give thanks". I am glad it says IN all things and not FOR all things! I am thankful that Mikey became a Believer and though I am envious that he has joined my husband in Heaven, I am thankful that we will all be together someday. I had to step away from the blog for a week or so because I moved and didn't have much access to Internet. I am back though and will continue to write about our losses.

coolingstar9 said...

I am coolingstar9 from Singapore.
I would like to read through the journey.
We need to live bravely in whatever situation.
Wish you stronger than ever.