Of the people I have written about so far, I think Cindy is the one I can relate to the most as a caretaker, a widow, and a mother, who lost her husband to cancer at the very young age of 42.
Cindy and Gary were married for 16 years and have three wonderful daughters. They both attended Christ the Redeemer Church. Cindy says that Redeemer has been their church family since 1993. In fact, that is where they first became boyfriend and girlfriend, got engaged, and fought the cancer fight together with the Body of Christ loving and praying for them.
Gary suffered with bone cancer, an exceptionally painful type of cancer. As with many cancer patients, at lot of time was spent in and out of the hospital and going to countless doctor’s appointments. As Cindy continued to talk about her caretaking role, I realized we had walked a very similar path. She said her husband would not let anyone else take care of him, and she considered it her privilege to be his full-time caretaker herself. There was joy in knowing that Gary loved and trusted her that much.
I asked Cindy to tell me about the day that she heard the word “terminal” for the first time. Cindy said, “We were stunned, we had to just sit and comprehend what had been told to us. We decided we didn’t tell our kids right away until we felt like we could process things.”
Cindy went on to tell how if she and Gary would feel overwhelmed or sad, they would get in the car together and drive down the long road they lived on. She said they had a lot of talks with God driving up that road. She shared how there were times when she would even yell at the Lord, and she knew He was okay with that. But I think one of the most powerful things Cindy shared was how she remembers the moment when she could hear the faint voice of her Heavenly Father saying “Will you love me no matter what?” She decided at that point that her faith in God was not dependent on whether her husband lived or died.
After Cindy confided this, we were both in tears. I knew God had brought me to this sweet sister in Christ for a reason, to let us both know we were not alone on this journey of healing.
On August 2nd, 2011 Gary, an amazing husband and father was called home to spend an eternity with his Heavenly Father. Cindy shared how she remembers thinking, “I am alone now and I don’t like to be alone, how am I going to do this?” God’s gentle voice responded, “You’re going to have to continue to trust in Me, and you’re going to have to do this now as Cindy, not Gary and Cindy.” Praise the Lord that His strength is always sufficient!
As Cindy went on to speak about how she is learning to live again, she shared that she went back to college and is only two classes away from getting her AA and then her goal is to transfer into the print journalism program at UNF. I am sure Gary is so proud!
A final but touching story that Cindy told me was about going with her daughters to see the movie Courageous, after Gary had passed away. Courageous is a movie about four men who vow to raise their families under the covenant of God. “Of course, I cried,” Cindy said “but my daughters didn’t." Instead they saw what could only been seen from the eyes of a child that loved and adored their father; they saw that their Dad was Courageous.
When I asked Cindy to share something that she wants others to know about her journey, she so eloquently said “to trust and put everything in God and don’t deny others the blessing of wanting to help you.” I recognized in Cindy that same strength I had to gain, that strength to humble oneself in order that others might lift you up.
It seemed fitting that one of Cindy’s favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 from the Message Translation: "Satan's angel did his best to get me down. What he in fact did was push me to my knees. At first, I did not think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Then He told me, "My grace is enough. It's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." For all of those who fight with extraordinary strength, it is wonderful to know the true source of the power within us.
You can read Cindy’s full story at: http://schrivermarathon.blogspot.com/