Blogging for us started out of necessity. Five years ago, after receiving Patrick’s ALS diagnosis, our pastor recommended we start one to give updates and avoid having to answer repetitive questions. We agreed that we wanted our time with people to be as normal as possible, not spent discussing his health. At the time, the only person we knew with ALS was Ed Dobson, with whom we had a personal visit early on. Ed had a blog called Ed’s Story, which led to Patrick’s decision to call this blog Patrick’s Story.
Patrick wrote the first couple posts, then he dictated and eventually I was writing them all. When Patrick passed away, so I assumed, would the blog. No one was as surprised as me when six months later, I wrote another post. I had something on my heart and God encouraged me to share it. Journaling had become an important part of my healing and as I was learning, I realized there were probably others who could benefit from my journey. A few posts the first year led to several over the next two years, and then back to just a few this year. There was never a grand plan of how often or when I would write. When God nudged me to publicly share, I would do so.
In the same vein, I now feel that it’s time to bring this blog to a close. It has served its original purpose and much more. I have been blown away by the amount of people who have either written or told me how they have been blessed, encouraged and challenged by these posts. It has shown me that in our humanness, we are all the same. All of us have hurts, struggles and needs; for each of these, God’s word provides comfort, promises and guidance.
Patrick’s story will continue. It continues as we remember him. We remember his genuine love for people, which was shown by his outgoing, friendly spirit. We remember his passion for God’s Word and his constant reminder to run hard after Christ. We remember his dedication to the church in his desire to reproduce and train up young men who would become leaders in other churches. We remember his strange habits, weird quirks and gregarious laughter. We remember how much he loved life. We remember how even when given a fatal disease, he did not stop trusting God and he remained faithful until his death.
My story will continue. It will continue as daily I seek to be satisfied in Christ. Daily I give him my pain and my loneliness; Daily I pick up my cross and follow Him. My desire has not changed since as a young teen I dedicated my life to the Lord wanting only to follow His direction for my life. Death and loss have been a part of what God has written into my story. The grief journey I’ve been on for four years has grown, stretched and challenged me beyond what I thought I could bear. It has also brought God closer than I ever knew possible.
Realizing I may not be far enough removed to yet accurately reflect, it seems that during 2016, I have turned the corner in my grief. It’s not a sharp turn, but more of a gradual curve as my healing has included more good days than bad. I’ve accepted my new normal and the pain is not quite as sharp. The bad days come, but I know I will survive them. I can look to the future with hope and joy. God has me in a place of contentment and I am satisfied in Him.
Deep in my heart, I now have an extra burden…it’s like a treasure box, of sorts. This box contains my love for Patrick. It encompasses memories of the all the years with him…the history of our public life together, along with the secrets of our private moments. It includes the greatest joys of bringing two children into the world, along with the normal struggles of life. It holds the anguish of walking with him to death’s door and the dark depression of grief that followed. This box I have…it may not be visible, but it’s palpable….I actually feel it. I’ve never heard anyone else explain it like this but it’s the best word picture I can articulate at this point. Maybe this is how it feels when a piece of your heart has been broken; Maybe it’s a layer of a scar where God has begun His healing. Whatever it is, I carry its weight like an extra limb. Although I am always aware of its presence, I can choose when to open the box. I choose when to talk about him, when to cry, when I will enter the sadness or when I will roll my eyes and laugh. It will forever be a part of me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It truly is a treasure.
Four years ago, God called my husband home. By God’s grace, He allowed this platform as a means to share our story. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your support and encouragement throughout Patrick’s journey, as well as to Paige, Parker and me ever since. As God leads, I will continue to share our story in whatever ways He sets before me.
However, this blog has never really been about Patrick.
It has always been a part of a much larger story…God’s story.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:3
Better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:10
For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. I Timothy 6:6-8
As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17:15