The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: Psalm 34:18
My husband passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011.
He had been battling a rare blood cancer for over four years. In November 2010, it became apparent that the only chance to save his life would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant. After much prayer, tremendous love from our family and friends, and a divine certainty that we were in God’s will, we took a leave of absence from our jobs and left Northern Virginia for DukeHospital in Durham, North Carolina.
My husband, Bill, received his transplant on January 14, 2011. Bill was 42 and strong in body and spirit. The first few days were fine, however as we waited for the engrafting to occur, Bill began to contract infections (viral, fungal, bacterial, etc.) because he had no immune system. He also contracted graft versus host disease in his skin and G.I. tract—a major cause of death among transplant victims.
As we watched Christina Aguilera sing the National Anthem in the 2011 Super Bowl, I turned to comment on her mistake and Bill was unresponsive. A team rushed in and he was whisked away to ICU. I called our family, and they started making plans to come from various areas of the country. I will never forget the last words that Bill spoke to me a few days before he passed away. He said, “I love you always my beautiful wife!” Bill fought for several days more.
For a whole day on February 13, the word “Goodbye” kept whispering in my head and heart. I knew it was the Lord and that He was lovingly preparing me for His answer to my prayers, but I kept pushing it away and hiding from it. Finally, on the morning of February 14, I couldn’t sleep and woke up early and prayed. God told me that Bill’s testimony had to be told but that Bill would not be the one to tell it; I would. He then lovingly reminded me that I had to say goodbye…not forever, but for now.
As I made my way to the hospital with Bill’s wedding band and his favorite blanket, I realized that I had to tell Bill it was OK to go. I entered the ICU and I pulled back his sheet and covered him gently with his favorite soft blanket and slipped his wedding band on his finger. I gently laid my head on the pillow beside his ear and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but if Jesus comes for you, go ahead, I’ll be OK. I love you!” He opened and closed his eyes several times and made eye contact with me.
As 18 of our family gathered around his bedside in the ICU, we sang hymns and took turns kissing and hugging him and he looked each one of us in the eyes and blinked goodbye to each of us. I know the moment our Savior showed up and took my sweet Bill by the hand and led him over into Gloryland. His countenance became that of a little boy full of wonder and his beautiful lips formed a perfect “O” as though he was already singing praises to the Lord.
Later, we made our way back to the hotel and as I sat in the lobby surrounded by family, the front desk found me and handed me a beautiful flower arrangement. I thought friends had sent it – after all it was Valentine’s Day. I opened the card and it said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife. Love, Bill”
God didn’t leave me in that room in the ICU. He didn’t leave me in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers I would receive from my husband. He gave me hope. I will see my husband again. I have a Savior that cares about my every thought and need. He seeks my company all day and never fails me.
Three years down the road, I have discovered I would not have picked this journey if given the choice, but I like who I have become because of what has happened to me. God’s not done with me yet and I’m excited to see the plans He has for my life and future.
My husband loved the Lord and, on a day all about love, he went Home to be with his Love. That is hopeful! Today, on this day that celebrates love, may you think about the Lord who loves you—and will never leave you, no matter what. That’s a promise from Him.
Dear Lord, Thank You for allowing me to love and be loved. Thank You for assurance that I have an eternal home in Heaven with You when my earthly ministry is finished. Thank You for Valentine’s Day and a new understanding of love that I have because of You.