Are you afraid that your loved one will be lost in the dim recesses of time?  Do you worry that
one day, you cannot remember the details of losing a huge part of your life when you can't
recall the face, voice, actions of the loved one who has passed away?  Fear not, I have been
there, and because I love to write things down, I have found a way to lovingly preserve even
the most minute details of my son, Richard's two and a half-year struggle with renal cancer.

I have been journaling for quite a number of years. As I accomplished my degree in
Distributive Education, one of the lessons was not to overload your brain with things and
phone numbers that you would not use but once or twice a year, but to write them down and
keep them in a safe place for ready reference. I have been an avid practitioner of that ever
since. As I created the poems for my book,
Bittersweet Autumn, I wrote them in a steno
notepad to be translated on the typewriter later, and to be sure that those golden nuggets of
thought were not lost in the meantime.

On the many flights from Las Vegas, Nevada to Richard's bedside in Midland, Texas, I
chronicled in a blank lined notebook not only the reason I was going, but my feelings about
them as well. There was always a prayer that THIS time, I would find him improved and
showing signs of conquering the disease. But he didn't conquer the disease; and after his
funeral on August 8, 1995, I gathered up my many pages of notes and wrote his story down so
I would never lose any of the details of his valiant battle.

As I wrote the story with tears pouring down my face, I suddenly realized that he had been
teaching me through his example to not be afraid of facing what ever was to come, and to
know that God's will was being carried out whether he survived the ordeal or not. His church
adored him and likewise he adored his church, lighting up like a sunbeam each time he went
into it. He was unafraid of what he was facing even though he and his church prayed fervently
for the Lord to intercede on his behalf until the very last.

What I learned through writing his story down was that even in the worst of situations, I must
trust in the Lord to do His will with my life, because after all, it is His to do with according to
His plan for my life. I am at peace with my only son being at home with the Lord now some
seven years later. What I am most at peace with is me learning that I can let go of my own
fears about death and move forward confident that I am not in control of my destiny, God is.

I would urge you to take notes, write down events as they occur, commit them to an organized
permanent record, and one day when your struggle with grief has subsided and your life is
progressing, even though you may have thought it had ended, if you feel the need and desire
to experience the last times you were with your loved one, take the journal out, find a quiet
place, read the pages again, and thank God for looking over you and your loved one who is
with Him now. Then replace the record safely and go on with your life. You will never get over
it, but you will get past it. It's what God would want you to do, and so would I.
Memories are like photographs ...
they both tend to fade with time.
© Betty Sue Eaton
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