Summer

{for Summer… who made it home to Canaan today}

It occurs to me this evening that earthquakes come in all shapes and sizes. And while the world’s eyes have been focused on Haiti’s earthquake over the past week, my eyes have been fixed on the one occurring beneath the surface of my own little piece of ground… the place I call home… the woman I call friend.

The ground beneath her has been shaking for the past four months, but her faith? Well, not easily shaken. And while leukemia has not been kind to her, her Father’s strength has been exceedingly kind. She has weathered her quake with all the dignity and grace of heaven. Some would say the cancer got the best of her, but I would say differently. Today, cancer had no say in the matter, because today the quake beneath her feet ceased in its shaking as she made her grand entrance to the throne of her Savior’s feet where she will worship him forever.

For those of us left behind, especially for her precious sons and adoring husband, the ground still shakes. The collective grief of our small community is palpable and strong. We’ve made this walk before. I’ve made this walk before—three times in the last two years. Cancer and its havoc is an all too familiar struggling in our neck of the world. For whatever reason, and God only knows (believe me when I tell you that I’ve asked him), our county claims some of the highest cancer statistics for our state. Everyone in our community has been touched by the disease at some point along the way.

Still and yet, familiarity doesn’t make the journey any easier. Each situation exceeds statistical data. Each road of suffering is unique and personally labeled with a name, a family, a life lived, a grief felt. There’s nothing neat and tidy about cancer. Nothing we can quickly and perfectly pack away even as we lower another casket into the ground.

Death and its corresponding mystery shake the earth beneath our feet. It reminds us all (whether we’re willing to own it or not) about the temporal nature of our flesh. About the eternal nature of our spirits. And that kind of reminder, friends, is sometimes a hard reckoning with which to engage. Why? Because of the searing pain that interjects its witness into the mix. Because of the questions that coincide with the grief. Because of the empty chair at the dinner table reserved for the one who has preceded us in death. And when all of that (the reckoning, the pain, the questions, the grief, and the empty chair) collide, the earth beneath our feet moves in witness to the internal wrestling of our souls. I don’t imagine there’s a Richter scale big enough to gauge that kind of rumbling.

As it should be. The burying of a loved one cannot be quantified and measured by human standards, only painfully felt at the deepest, rawest level of the human condition. We’ll try to quantify it; try to put some manageable parameters around it so as to better control the pain. Perhaps, this is needful… a necessary component to the grief process that enables us a measure of comfort during these days of unedited grief. My own heart stands as a witness to that this night.

Writing my heart helps me. Words enable me to put parameters around my feelings. To reign in my thoughts and the emotions which are spinning at full speed. Words, and all the pondering that goes into penning them, help me to re-focus my heart around the one truth that exceeds the pain of the moment. And that truth, friends, doesn’t in any way resemble a grave. That truth is a King and a kingdom and a beautiful, entirely whole, thirty-nine-year-old woman running through heaven’s meadows, partaking in the rightful promise that belongs to her as an heir of the Most High God.

Cancer did not get the final word. God did, and all of hell shuddered at the sound of his voice.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

May the God of all comfort, the God of everlasting peace, the God who collects our tears in a bottle and holds them close to his heart, the God who promises life beyond the casket, the God who numbered our days long before one of them came into being, the God who is well-familiar with all of our griefs and sufferings, the God who conquered death and the grave…

be the God who peels back the layers of heaven tonight to give us a glimpse of forever and to remind us, each one, that this is not our home.

He is.

And he is coming soon.

And his is a kingdom not easily shaken.

I love you “T” family. And I love the woman you so willing and graciously shared with this world. Her witness lives on in you. Winter’s bite will soon be over. Summer is just around the bend.

peace for the journey,

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43 Responses to Summer

  1. An absolutely beautiful tribute… a stunning post.

    I've felt these words this year with the death of my dad…

    I'm sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was one amazing woman..

    Loved this!

  2. Elaine, I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful friend. Your words were so poignant and lovely.

    I first discovered the truth of cancer when I was 12, as my father passed away from its ugly destructive nature.

    Yet, you are so right! Our comfort from the Holy Spirit can help us rise above our sorrow. The reality of Christ's victory is greater than the physical sting of death!

    I will keep this dear family in prayer.

    Love you.

    Andrea

  3. Dear Elaine,

    I am so thankful cancer did not get the final word
    God's voice thundered loudly and was heard
    Cancer did not get the final word!

    Oh, you bless my heart Elaine. My cousin sang "I Will Rise" at my uncle's funeral in May. Truth my friend, Truth!

    There is laughter and joy for your friend -evermore;
    A King, a kingdom, an inheritance indeed – evermore!

    He is! Indeed!
    Love and hugs and hallelujahs across the miles,
    Lora

  4. What a touching tribute to your friend. I am so glad I stopped by today.(as I wipe tears from my cheeks)
    So sorry for your loss, but our loss is Heaven's gain!
    Thank you for sharing your heart, because you sure did bless mine!
    until next time…nel

  5. What a difficult loss. This was a beautiful tribute to what was a beautiful life.

    Thanks for the eternal reminder.

    Lori

  6. Elaine,

    All of us experience circumstances that shake our lives. How awesome for Summer to keep her eyes fixed on Jesus. I am thankful for the firm foundation in Jesus. No shaking in His hand. He has conquered death! I know you will miss your friend dearly. Saying a prayer for Summer's family and friends. May God give all of you His peace as you continue your journey on this side. Hugs, B

  7. I read about you on Laura's blog & thought I would come meet her sweet friend. What a beautiful honor to your friend and the Beautiful God that poured out of her – Psalm 50:2 – perfect in Beauty, God shined forth. And wow, she's with Him face-to-face! I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer a few months ago & don't know what my future holds—do any of us really know? But a beautiful God has been detaching me from anything that brings me JOY other than HIM. Beautiful post!

  8. She, too was blessed to call you friend! What a sweet friend you were to her. I'm praying for you in your loss and for the family left behind. It says in Matt. Blessed are those who mourn – for they will be comforted. May He give you His peace today.

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  9. I need not tell you the impact these words have on my heart in this moment for we still are feeling those aftershocks – some stronger than others but each catch our breath.

    My friend, I pray for you and T's family and friends. May the grace and strength of our unshakeable God surround each of you as the world seemingly moves under your feet.

    My love and prayers you have!
    Shalom,
    Denise

  10. Beautiful tribute Elaine. She was a beautiful woman both inside and out. A blessing to all who knew who and even to those who have been praying for her she never met. WE loved her, adored her and admired her. May peace now be with Wade, Luke, Will and the entire extended family.

  11. Oh Elaine, this is the most precious tribute, reminder and reflection.

    I identify with the personal "earthquakes" and wrote about that very same thing just this past Tuesday. Yes, there is heartache all around, but there is also heartache within as the earth shakes under our feet, opens up and attempts to swallow hope. As you know I'm there, but for different reasons than your 'shaking'.

    Love ya Elaine. The conclusion of this post had me crying. Thanks for the word that Summer is just around the bend – love the double application there. Desiring to know the warmth of the Son today.

    Hugs,
    Joy

  12. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I lost my friend Joan to leukemia (actually to pneumonia because her immune system was weak due to a bone marrow transplant). She is also in the arms of Jesus so I can't grieve for that but my heart still aches for myself because she's not here with me. I still want to reach for the phone to call her and have to remember I can't.

    I understand your pain and your joy. It's such a mixed thing to deal with. I'm so thankful that for believers, death never has the final say.

  13. Elaine, Thank you for sharing this. I remember the pain when I learned of my niece's death back in Kenya. I felt hopeless and lost but God quickly put those words in my heart. Death, oh where is your sting? For those who know Christ, we are comforted even in our pain.

    With love and tenderness,

    Gladwell

  14. With tears bursting and flowing down my face… I will rise when HE calls my name! Praise YOU Jesus. Thank You Father God for using Elaine to express Your beauty in words.

  15. These are words that both comfort and express the heart and pain of such a loss. I could never say it like this Elaine, but am so thankful that you have the gift of these deepest heartfelt words. I pray for this family and I know this expression will bless and comfort them. It has blessed me to be here today and to share her life through your writing.

    And the 'summer' ending… that hope is ALL the difference.

    Love you.

  16. Awesome, Elaine…I have no words to describe what a lovely tribute this is…and the song you chose to go with the post is absolutely, positively perfect.

    Praying for your friend's family AND for you.

    Love,
    Beth

  17. Beautiful words..I have been down this road with my sister in law who I miss a great deal..but oh the dancing and singing I know she does now.

    So sorry for your loss. I will pray for God's hand to touch all of you as you mourn.

    blessings

  18. Wow! That was beautiful Elaine. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend but as you said, death has no victory or sting when we know that the one we loved lies in the hands of our Creator.

  19. Lovely. Such a heartfelt, God-honoring tribute. The Chris Tomlin song is perfect – and so it shall be we will rise!

    Kathleen

  20. I am so sorry to hear this. I will say a special prayer for you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute with us.

    -Alisa Hope

  21. Elaine – This is absolutely beautiful! I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. Write on, girl, you comfort many!

  22. Elaine….I feel your pain through your writing. I feel that you were a blessing to your friend and she was a blessing to you. I lost one of my good friends a few years ago from cancer. I still miss her. My first introduction to cancer was when I was 9 years old and my Mama had breast cancer. One of my sisters lies in the ICU this minute dying from cancer. I would appreciate your prayers.

    God is so good to give us good friends!

    Love you,
    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  23. The chord was struck and the sound heard throughout our blogging community. Thank God, we WILL rise!

    May God comfort your hurting heart and those of ALL who mourn today.

  24. You are right. "There is nothing neat and tidy about cancer."
    And nothing neat and tidy about soul searing grief.
    So sorry.
    Melanie@Bella~Mella

  25. Elaine,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and your sweet comments. I appreciate your honesty with me… yep I'm learning too and God is doing much in me in the midst for which I am truly grateful.

    So blessed to know that He continues to come after us until we know fully.

    Again, thanks for your visit!

  26. Thank you for sharing your heart. May God be your ultimate comfort. Praying for you and Summer's family.

  27. I will rise…my favorite song this year. It can bring me to my feet, and raise my arms high (even while driving, scary, I know.)

    Cancer has touched so many, including me, but I consider it the bully on the block. It will NEVER be the victor in a fight with a child of God, EVER.

    Hugging you close in my heart Elaine.

  28. Dear Elaine,
    The amazing beauty of words, at a time when grief is real! What would this world be like if we were not given the ability to express our pain and translate it to poetry?

    I love the name Summer. It's true, she's just around the bend.

    Winter is over, the season is changing. When my husband died a little over a year ago, the grief was painful, but embracing it, not struggling against it, accepting it, letting the process run its course…brought me peace.

    Thank you for these lovely words. You know, Elaine, just reading them also brought healing to my heart today.

    Love
    Lidj

  29. I am so sorry for her loss to those who have loved her….I know her gain has been unbelievable above and beyond all that she could have imagined. And yet, like you said…that does not stop the pain of those left here.
    I have a close friend here who has been touched by cancer…she in the middle of a huge battle. I pray for her healing..like I am sure you did…and yet I try to rest in the fact that He numbered her days before she was born.
    One day He will wipe the tears away from all of our eyes….till then He collects those tears and holds us close. I will be praying for you and her family and friends.
    Hugs

  30. What a lovely legacy! The one thing death can not take from us is our eternity with Jesus, the ultimate goal.

    I wonder if there's something in the water in your county? I heard that the cancer rate is high here too, I heard it was the water. Don't know if there's any truth to that, but we're drinking bottled water just in case.

    May the God of comfort hold you in His arms and be a banner of Peace over you…

  31. Oh, Elaine, I'm so sorry for your loss. Having lost a dear friend–and an amazing, Jesus-loving woman–to cancer last year I know the pain of which you speak. I hate cancer! Yet, I know even in this insidious disease, God is faithful and loving and merciful.

    Some things we will never understand this side of heaven. Lifting you and your friend's family up as you walk the dark days ahead.

  32. Dear Elaine,

    This was just beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss, for Summer's family and for your entire community.

    You honored her legacy so well, I'll look forward to meeting Summer.

    She is as beautiful outwardly as you described her inwardly. A true sister in Christ.

    One day we'll all understand. It will make sense. But for now the word says,

    Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. PS 116:15.

    You are a wonderful friend to many~

  33. Oh, Elaine, we talked about this special friend of yours. I'm so sorry.

    Such loss for her family and her friends.

    May God comfort all of you.

    Sweet dreams.

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