Though I knew the day would come, I always longed for the day to be another day, not this one. But the day came. I said goodbye (for now) to my beloved Wyndham last Thursday. I am grateful for every day and every extra day that God gave us. A week ago I got to hear Wyndham’s voice again, loud and clear. On Tuesday he told me that he was going to die and that he loved me. We exchanged precious words of love. I assured him he would live on in us and I loved him forever. I tried to find some way to thank him for his love and his life. I reassured him we would be okay. This time was a gift.
The next day he could not eat and was exceedingly tired, with a fever. His nurse thought he could possibly rebound since he did in March, but we would know in a few days. Leigh Ann brought the three little Shaw girls over to hug Papa, at Emery’s insistence. They sang for him “Amazing Grace,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” with verses that included every member of our family, including all the dogs. That was a gift that comforted him and brought him joy on what we did not know would be his last evening. Later that night the adult kids arrived and we talked to him and prayed, cried, and laughed. Wyndham seemed to enjoy listening, though he could not respond except to squeeze his eyes. Sam had been out of town on business and was flying back.
Thursday morning Sam was back and we all sat with Wyndham, unsure of what to expect, but we sat and loved him with all that was within us. I had begged God that morning to be kind to Wyndham and to us in his passing, and He was. Wyndham was not in pain and the transition was fast. Our hearts broke for us but rejoiced for him as he exited this world with impeccable courage, gratitude, faith, and love. I could even see some cheerfulness before he passed, as his eyes smiled a few times, even though closed. I know that eye-smile. Since we still thought there was more time, I made a run to the drug store to get a needed medical supply and Kristen and Sam went for a prayer walk. Melissa and Kevin stayed with him. Jacob was nearby, attentive to the needs. As a family, we have been on this journey together, all in.
As soon as I walked out the door, Wyndham was gone, likely thinking of protecting me, once again. It was clear his body was vacant, a mere shell that once housed the spiritual being that still lives. For this certain hope, I give thanks to God.
The world feels a little dizzying right now. The tears just keep flowing though accompanied by smiles and precious memories. I feel strangely both sad and grateful to be able to now freely just walk out my door to go somewhere, and I find myself feeling guilty for being able to do so. That probably makes little sense, but many things feel a little strange right now. Transitions are hard. This dreaded and worst day of my life also brought many precious, touching moments, which are ours to treasure. There were also some moments that one day will give us laughter, but not yet.
The following day, when the hospital bed and medical equipment were all gone our dog, Denver, walked into our room and just stood there frozen, looking around as if he were thinking, “Everything is different. What do I do now?” I felt the same.
Some of the grandchildren struggled while watching Wyndham’s “things” go out the door. Wheelchairs and machines were familiar to the youngest ones and were connected to their Papa. Sam reassured them that we were not taking Papa out of the house, but just the “sick” out of the house. Papa will always be with us because of all he gave us. For me, I long for the memories of pre-sick Wyndham to return, as I know they will. The last five of our forty-five years feel currently at the forefront, though I know that will change over time. The last five are, however, sacred and precious, terribly hard though they were. We all grew and were changed, and our love only grew stronger. I have a keener sense of what is most important. Love God wholeheartedly. Love each other wholeheartedly and help as many as possible to know God. One. Day. At. A. Time.
When Wyndham received his diagnosis of the horrible disease called Multiple System Atrophy, we had a sobering idea of what could happen to his body. It was like a bad dream. Knowing something of what was likely in store for his future, he studied the book of Job and committed to being grateful, faithful, courageous, and cheerful every day throughout his illness. He excelled in fulfilling this commitment to his last breath, even finding a way to laugh almost every day. Not one time did he complain or ask “why me?” Instead, he felt, “why not me?” I often tried to discourse with God on why such a good man had to suffer in such a drastic way. God did not tell me why, but we have all grown and changed because of this time. As much as I hate this disease. God has walked with us through it all, and He has been enough. For this I am grateful.
It does me no good to ask why, though truthfully I often have. If I could understand all of God’s ways and how He sees beyond and works for good despite the evil in our fallen world he would not be God, for God is beyond the dimension of human understanding. There is nothing I can do about that except to surrender and trust. He is God and I am not. He remains a good, good God, with a perspective that is beyond my reach. I know and believe God will continue to work in amazing ways as a result of Wyndham’s life. I will thrill to witness ways God will continue to work through the life Wyndham lived on earth.
Many of you have asked how I am doing, and your love and prayers mean so much. They have sustained me. Thank you. The best answer I can give is that I am deeply heartbroken, but okay, if that makes sense. We are all holding tight to God and each other.
Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors.
I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.
That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is… (2 Tim 1:3-5)
Wyndham is no longer suffering, which makes me so happy for him. He fought the good fight, finished the race, and there is a great reward for him. I wish I could know what goes on in Paradise, but Paul himself said it cannot be stated (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Paul says that the eternal glory makes the worst suffering seem as light and momentary trouble. Only one day will I understand this.
I am thankful for every moment that God gave me with Wyndham. I miss him more than words can express and am forever grateful he has shown me how to live and to die in the Lord…with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).
I know these would be words Wyndham would pass on today.
But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.
You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar.
This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. (2 Tim 4:5-8 MSG)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim 4:7-8)
Thank you for sharing with me on this journey of “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham.” My prayer is that it in some way helps draw us closer to God and victoriously finish the race marked out for us. Please keep us in your prayers. We need them.