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Enduring Love

Aug 17, 2007
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 NLT)

I sit on the edge of my husband's hospital bed, holding his hand and stroking his face. The room is lit only by the soft glow of the streetlights filtering through the bay window. I am silent, drinking in. the love that we have shared over a lifetime of living together. It is a mystery - how in the midst of his dying I can feel our shared love, our shared lives so poignantly and passionately while simultaneously withdrawing emotional energy from our relationship.

He will soon be moving to Heaven and I will be here, a widow endowed with the challenge and the gift of creating a life for myself without him. Questions race through my mind with the speed of an Olympic downhill racer. What will I do? How will I find solace? Who will walk with me on my journey? Strangely enough I have not asked the question "Why me?" I already know the answer to that question - "Why not me?"

He speaks: "Are you feeling sad or scared?" 'No", I reply. 'I just wanted to hold your hand to feel your presence, drink in our love". It is a melancholy moment, one filled with passionate love, reverberant joy, and the deepest sorrow I have ever felt. It is one of those peak experiences in life that is accentuated by the quietness of the evening, filled with the love of a shared lifetime, and slowly moving towards the final curtain closing.

He smiles, "Well, just remember you have Odin", Odin, my German Sheppard puppy. I, the cat lover, who swore that no dog would ever enter my home, have purchased a dog. Not just a dog, but a puppy. I know nothing, zip, zilch, nada about training a puppy. I don't even like dogs. I love my cat Nala. She is independent, asks nothing of me except that I keep her food dish filled. Occasionally, she will give me permission to pet her, but only when she wants to be petted. And now, in the midst of my husband's dying I have a puppy.

Odin, is the recipient of my emotional energy that I am withdrawing from my husband. He is a quiet dog that demands nothing, but he is there to listen to me, to love me, to redirect me. How does Odin know what I need at the moment I need it? It is a mystery, the depths of which I shall never be able to plummet. Yet, I am thankful that this mystery is presently operating in my life.

Odin is always by my side. He follows me from room to room. I find myself talking to him as if he were a human being. I tell him of my joys, my sorrows, my dreams, and my fears. He listens; he licks my hand and waits patiently for me to pet him. Somehow he senses my need for unconditional love and acceptance. He senses my need for reassurance that my life will not only continue, but that at some future point I will again live fully and joyously. He is helping me make the transition. He cannot replace my husband; no one can replace my husband. But Odin has my energy, my time, and my attention. He needs me to give to him as much as he gives to me. He is mine and he is teaching me patient endurance and hope.

It never ceases to amaze me the avenues through which God shows us His unfailing love. "Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord (Psalms 25: 7 NLT). I thank you Lord that in the midst of my grief and sorrow l can feel your unfailing love, that "The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands (Psalms 25: 10 NLT). There is no limit to the creative power of our Lord, and no limit in his reaching out to comfort us. Thank you. Lord for the gift of Odin.
About the Author
Ann E. Van Dyke holds a Masters degree in psychology and is a licensed addictions counselor.
Mourning Glory, A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com
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