What do you do when you vowed to spend the rest of your life with someone, only to find out it was just for the rest of his?
That’s a pretty heavy question and I’ll get to the answer of that question in a minute or two.
In June of 2014, my husband’s cancer diagnosis would forever change our world. My husband was never sick. He just wasn’t. If he had a headache, he waited for the pain to pass by going to work. Not once did I see him take a Tylenol. (Well, not prior to his time in the hospital, anyway.) He took antibiotics once while we were married and had just one bout with the stomach flu. If he had a cold, he’d slather on Vick’s VapoRub, head to bed early and get up the next morning to go to work. Work was his cure.
So you can imagine our shock when we were told he had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He had been unusually sick for about 10 days by the time he was diagnosed. After a blood test, our family doctor told us my husband’s bone marrow was completely zapped. He wasn’t producing any white blood cells or red blood cells. Simply put, my husband went until he couldn’t “go” anymore and he entered the hospital that same day. After nine long weeks in the hospital and three different chemo regimens, he was gone. He never got home again. Instead, he went to his heavenly home and we came home to a life that looked completely different than the one we had before cancer came along and changed everything.
I chose the name “Salvaging A Life” for this blog because I want you to come along as my family and I salvage a life that’s been torn to pieces. Salvaging is not new to my family. In fact, it was a recurring theme throughout our married life.
At a young age, my husband taught my oldest son to “waste not, want not” and that’s exactly how my husband lived. One day, we were driving up the interstate and we came by a farmstead that had an old Massey Ferguson combine in the grove. He pointed at it and told me he was going to get that one this week and bring it home. I asked why he would bring another combine home while rolling my eyes. I knew the answer before I even asked.
He reminded me the price of scrap iron was high. My husband would often take scrap iron into the local scrap yard for some quick cash. He then made eye contact through the rear view mirror with our then five-year-old son in the backseat and asked him, “Because what’s our motto, Jake?” “Waste not, want not, Daddy!” Jake enthusiastically responded. It was an adorable moment I’ll never forget and it is a “motto” that has served my family well over the years. Salvaging was a way to make money.
My husband had great connections. People knew him to be a very hard worker. They would frequently stop by his workplace to let him know they were tearing down a barn or a house. (Landowners will often tear down houses on old farmsteads just to get the buildings off the tax rolls.) They would invite my husband to come over to see if we could salvage woodwork, windows, and doors before the house would come down. Barn wood was valuable to us and so were the treasures we would sometimes find at the farmstead. Because I love that sort of thing, I enthusiastically jumped on board. As a result, I became pretty skilled with a pry bar and the claw end of a hammer.
My family was junking before junking was cool. We found that we really enjoyed making something out of the “treasures” we found. Those salvaged treasures even found their way into my kids’ 4-H project. The results were almost always pretty spectacular. In time, I’ll probably show you all of those projects. Salvaging was a way to save money.
There are several definitions of salvage with some being to reclaim, rescue and recover. My favorite definition of salvage is to retrieve or preserve something from adverse circumstances. Losing my husband and my kids’ father is most definitely an adverse circumstance. But I know that God promises restoration and even more if we let Him.
I believe that God is the greatest salvage specialist of all time. Isaiah 61:1-3 says God sent his Son to pull people out of the wreckage of life by healing the broken hearted and comforting those who mourn by giving them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. He calls them “Mighty Oaks” and plants them to display His glory.
If one good thing can come from my husband’s death, I pray that it be to display God’s glory! With such a devastating loss, I can’t even begin to understand God’s plan. But this is a plan that belongs to the Creator of the Universe and I will trust in it.
I know God has a plan for each of us. It’s not just a good plan…it’s a GREAT plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) We need to trust in Him every day and praise Him even in those times when we are too broken to find the words. Come along on our salvaging journey as we seek to reclaim, repurpose and restore our lives while trusting God every step of the way. Salvaging is a way to restore what has been lost.
So what do you do when you pledged to spend the rest of your life with someone, only to find out it was just for the rest of his?
You pick yourself up off the ground, dust yourself (and your family) off and look to see what’s left to salvage. That’s what you do.
In the time since I’ve written this post, I’ve changed my blog name. Although I’m personally still Salvaging A Life, I’m blogging under a different name. I wrote this post to explain why the name switch.