Our family is gradually recovering from the loss of our son Jonathan at age 43. He died on October 12, 2011, after being diagnosed with stage 4, untreatable colon cancer. It was hard to wrap our minds around those words when we first heard them. It still is uncomfortable to re-live those days and weeks in our minds.
But we are surviving. And despite the fact that for the rest of our lives we will miss our son greatly, we know Jonathan is OK – better actually than if he was still living here in Rochester, MN, not too far from us. He is not in pain. He is not suffering in any way. For this we are thankful.
Our son’s first words after coming out of surgery and hearing those dreadful words was a prayer actually. He said, “Jesus, You are Lord.” Yes, He is Lord – and no matter what, we are choosing, as Jonathan did throughout that four-month-long-journey – to trust.
Recently I came across a letter I had written to him in January of 2009. This was at a time when Jonathan was beginning a new career. He was going back to school after a down-turn in the building industry. He was leaving what was actually his “true love” – carpentry and building.
We live now in the home he built – and frequently we drive three hours north to spend time in something else he built – a unique, comfortable “addition” to the log cabin that has been in the family for five generations. He worked on that project in 2008 and was passionate about designing and creating something we ourselves could never have imagined. We love spending time there – we appreciate the homes he built for us in both places.
But back to what I started with. I found a copy of the letter I wrote to him and will share that with you, dear reader. You will understand the meaning this has to us these days as we look forward to seeing Jonathan again:
To Jonathan – January 12, 2009
The other morning I came downstairs at the beginning of the day and thought, “What a beautiful place we live in! How privileged we are, how blessed to be able to live here – especially how comfortable now to be able to work at home in the winter and not have to go out!”
But then the next thought was – “Oh, but we’ll have to leave here someday?” That is a sad thought! But true too.
Then, these words came into my mind: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
This house is wonderful – beautiful actually – more than your dad and I could have planned or built. It was built and planned by you and DuRanda.
If YOU could build this – and it’s so perfect for us right now – GOD is planning something even better for the future. We may have to struggle some, there may be new challenges in the future, and new things to trust Him for – BUT, He IS getting something better ready for all of His children in the future.
I was going to call to tell you this, but just now decided to write and mail it instead.
Love you always,
And now – one month shy of two years since Jonathan left us to go HOME – we remember who he was, what he believed, and most of all we remember, we savor the promises:
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.” II Corinthians 5:1
“We are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died.” Romans 14:7,8
Gracia is a licensed counselor living in Rochester, MN. She meets with individuals, couples, and families in her private practice – New Hope Counseling. She is married to David, a Lutheran pastor. They have three children – Jonathan now HOME in heaven; Elizabeth in Pennsylvania; Amy in Minnesota. She and David are blessed with seven granddaughters and two grandsons. More than anything Gracia values the “rock solid” foundation we have through faith in Jesus Christ, is thankful for His Word, and likes to “savor” the promises. An additional focus at this time is to put into writing her experiences of God’s care and faithfulness in the midst of change and loss.