Growing Old with You – Let’s Keep Showing Up

My friend Marty and his wife Sonya received another negative diagnosis. For the third time, Sonya heard the words, “You have cancer.” 

The 21st Century presents an amazing time to be alive. How else could you feel like you know someone well you have only seen in person less than a half a dozen times? Phone calls, emails, shared articles, join projects all prove the upside to technology. I am the better for Marty’s friendship.

Showing Up

When he told me of the possibility he and Sonya would face this battle again, I could not help but think of Jason Micheli‘s post [link unavailable] on how cancer had proven the most significant illustration of, “in sickness and in health . . . ’til death do us part.” Racked by post-surgery recovery and intense chemotherapy, Jason wrote about how his wife showed up. He thought about their vows and the promises they made. No one ever asked the other, “What would you do if cancer took one of you to one of the most intense periods of suffering?” Jason wrote how his wife climbed into the hospital bed with him to comfort him. She showed up.

There is little doubt Marty will show up. He has before. I also believe Sonya has shown up for Marty when no one else has. After all, he served as a pastor for many years.

Jason’s piece is now a staple for me in pre-marital counseling. Sure, maybe we should include, “What will you do if you spouse cheats on you?” No one wants that. No one plans for that. But, it still matters what you will do, or at least think you will do. If you had to think about that before it ever happened, you might learn something about yourself.

The consideration of an affair focuses on how you would respond to your own suffering. Thinking through what you would do when the other, your spouse, faces suffering invites you to think about how well developed is your sense of compassion and empathy for the other. Are you ready when your spouse is puking and in agonizing pain? Will you be prepared when the pain takes its toll and thoughts turn to the possibility of death? There really is no place for selfishness when you look toward your spouse writhing in pain, discouraged, even depressed, at the prognosis of more treatments.

Will you show up?

The Time Will Come

It is not if it comes. Be sure that it will come.

The older you get, and the more years you share, the more aware you are that it will happen. Dad went to the emergency room last week. It was his heart. He and Mom have more than 55 years together. I watched my Mom stand by his bed talking him through the pain from what he, or she, did not know. Her back is a constant reminder of the toll age takes. Yet, she stood.

When the pain would not subside not matter the medicines, she reassured him he would be okay. Hope. She may have given EKG’s back in the day, but her assuring words were not rooted in medical knowledge but the call of love. This time things worked out for the good. One day it won’t, for either of them. One thing I know, one of the many gifts they have given, each will show up for the other.

Our Time Will Come

One week ago we remembered a good friend. He died too young. That was ten years ago. Last night Patty gave me an anniversary gift. (Yes, after the oil is changed, I will be picking up her gift to give her later today.) Her gift was a quote cut out of a sheet of steel. The quote was one from our late friend Lyle.

There is no place I would rather be than right here, right now. — Lyle Burris

Often we marry and chart the future. Our aim is always striving for the day when . . . we have children, buy our first house, take a real vacation, and more. We may miss the present for all our future plans. They may never come. Living in the present, aware of now, may at least reduce regret, if not eliminate it.

We know not how or when our time will come. But, over the past 33 years we have practiced showing up. For whatever reason we have not faced what Marty and Sonya or Jason and Allison experienced. We know it could happen at any time. So we will continue practice showing up.

Thanks Dad and Mom, Marty and Sonya, Jason and Allison, and a host of others we have shared life with at Gould, Milford, and Snow Hill. Your illustration of showing up reminds us daily to do the same for each other.

Now, with a little help from Adam Sandler, consider all of these ways you commit to showing up. This is what we vowed to do 33 years ago this evening.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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