Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life Before and After Winter

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter again. It was Winter '07 when Al Groves left us. His wife, Elizabeth, or Libbie if you know her, chose those headings for sections of the story. The book is called grief undone, A Journey with God and Cancer, published by New Growth Press, and you will need some tissues nearby as you read this heart-breaking but somehow comforting tale. It is heart-breaking because it hurts to read of  this loving, happy, busy family as they deal with incurable illness. And it is both sad and comforting to know they are leaning on God, the Father; Jesus, the Good Shepherd; and the Holy Spirit, who guides us through each new day. This book is incredibly sad. But if you read it, I am sure you will be incredibly glad you did.

It was in the winter of '06 that Al was told that there was "a spot" on his chest X-ray. They had many scares before that and he had been through many doctors' appointments, exams, tests, biopsies, and X-rays. They were unloading groceries from the car when he told Libbie. They continued with the unloading while they were both thinking of the possibilities and not wanting to scare each other.

After talking it over, they decided to tell their children. "It's hard to tell your kids that their father has something that might turn out to be terminal cancer," Libbie wrote later. The younger two were twelve and fourteen. The older two were one in college and one graduated, married, and at work, both in other parts of the country.

I'm not sure when Libbie decided to write this book but early on she kept detailed notes and she tells us in mostly two-or-three-page-chapters all of the difficult, heart-breaking, and beautiful moments and days. A friend helped them start a blog and Al often wrote to friends in their local neighborhood and church and around the world to tell them what was happening, how they were dealing with it, and asking for prayers. More than seven years have passed since Al went to be with the Lord in the Winter of 2007. Libbie continued her education and is now a lecturer and teaching assistant at a nearby seminary and she has several grandchildren to love and enjoy. Thanks be to God.......

---Lois Sibley,