Thursday, June 14, 2012

joyful sorrow

I was planning on writing this in a few weeks, but time has recently become very, very precious.

Almost two weeks ago my sister sent me a text that said: "Uncle Jim is dying". I knew my uncle on my dad's side has single cell cancer and I immediately thought, she must mean Uncle Gene, although I thought he was fine too... I get a call explaining the text. It really was Uncle Jim. I boo-hoo because it's 1) overwhelmingly shocking, and 2) I start to think about all my cousins who have new babies, have just recently moved back and are all over the country with summer plans, and how they will face life knowing their dad is leaving.

I went to see him on Tuesday, but before I left, Sunday I talked to my pastors about Jim and let them know the little information I had and to pray for his soul, whether he was a believer or not, I wasn't sure. Monday night I had a meeting with the pastors and a few other people to discuss music and informed them of what more information I knew. Even then, amidst the mixed feelings of "what exactly are my reactions supposed to be?" and "how much faith do I really have?". Tuesday morning my dad and I set out for Birmingham to see Jim at UAB. I have never seen a demeanor so altered, so soft. Jim has always been the clown of the family, joking about everything, laughing at all situations, and being perpetually sarcastic; I had no idea how he would handle all of this information knowing his life would soon be over. Jim went to the hospital the Friday before and discovered that Saturday morning that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When I met my aunt in the parking garage at UAB she was telling me stories of all these other families that discovered their loved ones had the same diagnosis and were no longer with them 2 weeks later. I was so amazed at how she was speaking so openly about death and not melting into a ball of emotions. Uncle Jim was joking around with the doctors, Aunt B was laughing right along with him, and the whole room was peaceful.

Soon after Jim leaves to have a procedure done and Aunt B starts to get real about how life will be. Still, unwavering in her faith and in the moment of trial and pain, she starts to cry and starts to thank God for how He has brought her to this point in life, and how this really is a celebration. Uncle Jim has a renewed heart, has his life resting in the arms of his Savior, and how all that has been broken through life is now made right and new. All of his scars are beautiful, they're made beautiful, his life is and has been beautiful because it brought him to this point of living out his salvation! The only thing that can be seen in this is pure JOY. We are full of joy.

I don't know how much longer he will be with us here on earth, but our hearts, now pricked by the beautiful faith and love that my family has been shown and has been living out through these short weeks, have made that time and whatever time we have left with him so wonderfully precious. What a blessing Jim's life has been, and what a privilege to be able to call him family. I'm looking forward to see him again, reuniting with all my family in the Kingdom that is to come.