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God In My Life


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I think the most important thing I have to say is that every day I see more and more how God works in my life.

As most people know after Johnny's death not only was I shattered and alone but I was also angry and bitter. I felt that my faith had betrayed me because I had been so sure that God was answering my prayers that I let things get by me that I never should have. It has taken me a very long time to make peace with those thoughts. There is still a part of me where the anger and bitterness live. I still feel that both Johnny and myself were very cheated. I have come to accept those feelings as something that I can not change. Most of the time they are buried and lie dormant. When they do raise their heads I am able to control them in a short period of time.

It took me a long time to trust my faith again. That only happened because I was blessed with some things that don't normally happen to someone often. One was having someone relate his near death experience to me. The others were things that happened that could not be explained away. Things that assure me that Johnny still lives in another place. A place that is not that far from here but a place that I can't go yet. Once in a while he can make sure that I know he still exhists but it takes faith to understand that.

When I first moved here to French Gulch I took time off. Time that I needed to try to come to terms with my loss and my life. I lived in solitude most of the time. I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of praying. Living where I can see the wonders of God around me everyday with nothing to distract me worked wonders on my spirit. Still I was always on the edge of a deep depression.

When I started to once more go out into the world and seek work and meet people I asked God to help me. I know that without that help I could have never come as far as I have.

I continued to be envolved in message boards about Lung Cancer. I also continued to gather as much information about it as I could find. I developed my theory about the deadly attitude toward Lung Cancer that I saw with Johnny and in so many cases I have studied sense his death. I also see how that attitude probably took my mama away much sooner than she should have died.

I tried to pass as much information on as I could. I got many good respones and many people responed who were nearly as outraged as I am about the way Johnny died. Eventually the responses slowed and as that happened and my work started keeping me busy more and more I backed off of the message boards and trying to inform people. Instead of believing as I did right after Johnny died that I was meant to do something that would make a major difference in that attitude and the way elderly people are treated I started asking myself "why me" why did I have to lose so much and who was I to think that I could possibly make much of a difference?

I gradually became more and more a part of this community but still I held something back. It wasn't until the fire swept though here threatening to take what little I had left that I not only gave myself completely to this community but to God as well.

When I left my home that day the flames were aproaching at an alarming rate of speed. I knew that there was lttle hope that my home would be spared. Within half hour I heard reports that everything here in the park where I live was lost. I know those reports came because by the time the last people left here the park was completely surrounded by fire and it was moving in closer every second.

Despite knowing that everything I owned and my home were probably all gone I started praying. I asked God to please spare my home and not take what little I had left. I just didn't think I had the strength to start over yet again. Later that night we learned that only two homes here in the park had burned. By the next morning I knew that my home was not one of them.

When we returned home it was so evident that we had truly been spared. The fire had skipped large sections leaving them untouched. Had it burned straight through there is no way that anything could have been saved either here or in our small historic town. I don't know why some people lost their homes while most of us were spared. I doubt that we prayed any harder than the ones who lost their homes. I can only believe that God had a reason. There were things that we all needed to learn. Those of us who were spared opened our hearts to those who lost everything. We also felt gratitude to God fro sparing us. Those who lost everything learned just how giving their neighbors could be. We all learned a lesson in humility.

I stopped holding back. This became my home. A place that I have made for myself with the help of God and the many good people who live here. Everyday when I look out at the mountains even with so few trees left that are not burned or scorched, I think God for my home and for bringing me to a place of such beauty where I can feel such peace and belonging.

I got caught up in my work and my home. I found more and more things to keep me busy. I would be so tired at night that I fell into bed exhausted and slept hard until time to wake and start a new day. Then my work would start all over again. I no longer had time for my writing or the message board. I felt that I was learning to cope with the pain of my loss and making a good life for myself. I didn't realize that I was falling back on my old habit of working to hide from the pain inside of me. When the bad days would come despite how busy I was they were still just as bad, Still just as hard to get through but when they were over I would try to forget and go on with my busy life.

Last week I got an email from a lady asking me to write an article about Johnny's treatment and death for a web site she is building about Lung Cancer. She had read some of my story where I had posted on the message board. I wasn't sure what to do. I told myself that not only did I not have the time but I didn't really trust someone who contacted me through the web. I also knew that if I started writing again that I would not only have the memories to deal with but the images that go with them. I was uncertain and afraid to do it. Then something happened that really shows how God works in my life everyday. How He gives a gentle nudge when I start to get too far off track!

Sunday our pastor was out of town and a guest pastor came for that day. When he started his sermon I was unprepared for the content. He told us that he wanted to talk about something different but something that had played a mojor role in his life. He said that he wanted to tell how he started to realize that grief could turn to sin. He told about his wife dying two and a half years ago. Just a few short months before my Johnny died. He talked about how his grief had him paralyzed and unable to do the things that he had done all of his life. Things that were important.

As he talked I sat there with the tears running down my face. I could relate to everything he was saying. Then he told about meeting someone who he had not seen for a long time and that person asking how his wife was. He said it was as if someone had kicked him in the stomache and he was back to day one again. I know only too well how that feels. It takes only a word or a gesture to trigger a memory that sends me crashing. I call it a freight train out of nowhere. I began to notice while he talked that he was looking straight at me.

He said that he finally realized that he couldn't go on like that. He stared praying for God to take the burdon of his grief from him. He told us that is when he realized that he had a job to do. He had been a teacher all of his life. He could use his grief to teach and try to help others who are going through the same thing. He said if you don't use what you learn from your grief to help others your grief becomes sin.

After services were finished I talked to him and told him how I could relate to everything he said. He told me that he knew. That he could see. I left there with something to think about. His sermon that day could not be an accident. I was struggling with the idea of writing that story. I felt like he was telling me that I had to continue to use what I have learned to try and help others.

I have asked time and time again "why me". Why have I had to suffer so many losses? Why were Johnny and I given a second chance at a life together only to have him taken from me in five short months. Why were we being punished for loving eachother?

After that sermon I started asking "why me" again but this time for a different reason. "Why me"? "why would God want me to do something like that? who am I to think that he would give me that kind of task? That he would lead me here to do something like that?" Then I started thinking about all of the extra ordinary experiences I have had sense Johnny's death. "Why me? Why would I be allowed those things when some people seem to wait an eternity for just one of those things?" I had questioned myself so many times. I had doubted time and time again only to have something else happen that I just couldn't explain away. "Why me? why would those things happen to me? Am I being self centered to believe that it is for a reason?"

Then I heard a little voice in my head. One time someone had posted something on the message board. It said instead of asking "why me?" we should ask ourselves "why not me?" That is when I realized that I could apply the same thinking to those other questions. "Why not me?" I could find no suitable answer! So I wrote the story and I know now that I may slack off at times but I will use what I have learned from my grief and my research to do what I can to help others. I may not be able to do a lot. I know there are many who don't want to hear what I say and about what I have learned but I will not give up. If I can change that deadly attitude in one person it is worth the effort.

I have known much loss and pain in my life. It is so easy to question why and wish that my life had been different. It is so easy to cry about what I have lost but I have learned something too and that makes me thank God everyday. Had I not had the loving family and the problems I did growing up I would not be the person I am now. Had I not been seperated from my family when my marriage took me far away I would not be able to understand when others know that pain. Had I not married after Johnny and I were seperated I wouldn't have my children and my beautiful grandchildren. They gave me a reason to go on when much of my life seemed so empty.

Then there is Johnny. He defined my life. He completed me. All of the years when we were apart somewhere in the deepest part of me I always knew that he loved me. Our love for eachother was the one constant in my life. I know that somehow his love for me is what gave me the strength to get through many bad times. I can not imagine a life without ever knowing that kind of love. Losing him has caused me the most pain I have ever known but a life without his love is unthinkable despite the fact that we acually had so little time together. I think God everyday for the blessings that he has given me. Each day I ask only that he give me what I need to get through the day. He never fails me!

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Wow! Thank you so much for that. I have been having a week of very 'low' days and trying to understand it. I think having a bad cold didn't help much.

I appreciate what you wrote and all that you are doing to help others. I find that when I am working with others I feel pretty good about myself.

I learned at a Parish Mission last night that we can be knocked off our foundation when we lose a loved one. That's for sure!

I also liked a quote I read last night at the Mission: "The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God". Sure works for me.

My best to all who are here grieving and to all who have to even be on these boards.


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Lil, I am so very proud of you. I know it took a lot of courage and strength for you to begin writing again. I pray that you will be able to latch on to that strength, especially today. I know that today will be very hard for you. Milestones like birthdays and anniversaries and holidays always are hard to deal with. Make sure and celebrate Johnny's birthday today. As you and I both know, Dennis and Johnny aren't very far from us at any time. I love and admire you so very much Lillian!!!! Happy Birthday Johnny!!!!

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