5 years ago today my life changed in a dramatic way. My husband of 36 years went to be with the Lord after a long battle with cancer. Today, I would like to honor him with some wonderful memories that I have, and also talk about my journey during the last 5 years. First of all, I still think of him and miss him every day. But thankfully the heavy grief has passed, and now I only cry once in a while. The Lord has replaced the sadness with memories and gratefulness for a life with Bob. I'll start with saying that life with Bob was sometimes complicated! He was a complex guy and our journey together had many ups and downs. Thankfully God kept us glued together and we stayed faithful to each other and loved each other to the end. If I had never met and lived with Bob Freeman I would be a very different person today. I tend to be shy, quiet and very serious. Bob was relaxed, fun loving and very outgoing. God used him in my life to teach me to not take everything so seriously and to enjoy life. He had a great love for people and life, and he helped me in breaking out of my shyness. He could meet a person, and within 10 minutes, you felt like his lifelong friend! Oh, how he loved to talk to people. I would usually have to drag him out of church or gatherings, because he was enjoying himself so much with all the lively conversation! He was artistic and creative, two qualities that elude me. I loved watching him draw and create things that would just pop into his mind. I, on the other hand, am lucky to be able to draw stick-figures! He loved our boys so fiercely, and his grandkids too. I think the hardest thing for him at the end was knowing that he would not see the grandkids grow-up, go to college, get married, and all the other life events.
What do I miss most about our marriage? Someone to talk to at the end of the day, someone to pray with and confide in (knowing he knew me completely and utterly), someone to walk with and hold hands, enjoying and talking about our family, traveling with him (we both loved to travel so much!), hearing him talk and laugh. What I would give to talk to him one more time! Well, someday in heaven, we will have a long talk. Bob Freeman, you were a one-of-a-kind person, and I thankful to have shared so much of my life with you!
So, the journey during the last 5 years has also had it's ups and downs. Grief is so hard to work through. I know that some of my dear friends are walking that hard road right now, and I am praying for you. God is faithful, lean on Him, and he will see you through. This process has brought me so close to my Lord. I depend on Him more and more each day. He truly is my husband now, and I rely on Him for everything. He has brought me to a great place, serving Him in Africa. I could have never, in a million years imagined this is what I would be doing at the age of 60. But life with God is exciting and fresh, and full of surprises!
A few updates before I leave you; I have been teaching classes for the past 4 weeks in French to nurse's aides. It has really pushed my language learning, my medical terminology, and my understanding of the spoken French here in Gabon. I still have a long way to go, but am so pleased with the progress God is giving me, and the hope of what is still to come. I have found a home church, in the village of Moukoundo. I will be teaching Sunday school every other week (working with a national here- one of our former RN students), and driving the new pastor and his wife there (they are replacing Terry and Barry, who have gone on home assignment for a year). I have taken on some of the other responsibilities that Terry performed at the hospital, and also go to Pediatrics most Thursdays to share the gospel, teach bible stories, play with, and do crafts with the kids and their parents. So my days are full, and I am feeling such a purpose and fulfillment here!
So the moral of this story is, there can be goodness and fulfillment even after experiencing a huge loss. Don't give up on life or God. He has turned my morning into dancing (see Psalm 30:11). In honor of Bob, I will leave with one of his favorite sayings, "Catch you later, bye"!