For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)
My husband and I both had been blessed with good health through our first 50 years of marriage. There were a few surgeries along the way, but never anything that seemed life-threatening. In 2012, Tom had begun to feel listless and fatigued. Routine blood work indicated anemia, so he was given iron to build up his red blood count. After a number of additional tests, he was diagnosed with primary myelofibrosis, a type of cancer that prevents the production of red blood cells. The prognosis was devastating in that there was no cure, but the oncologist told us of a newly approved drug that had shown good results in slowing down the cancer. He encouraged Tom to try it, and when the insurance came through to cover the $8,000 a month cost, we saw light in the darkness.
For the next couple of years Tom was active but began to need more blood transfusions as time went by. By 2016, he was dependent on getting transfusions every other day and was not feeling any benefit from them. He had been on several trials for this disease but none of them were successful. His doctor talked to him about quality of life versus quantity of life, explaining that they would continue the transfusions as long as he wanted, but there really was nothing else they could do. After much thought and prayer, Tom decided he didn't want to continue with the transfusions. He called Houston Hospice and notified M.D. Anderson that he would no longer come in for treatment. Our family came in to see him over the next week, and for several days, he was able to visit with them. But then Tom's body shut down, and he slept peacefully with medication hospice provided.
Looking back over the darkness of that time in our lives, I can see how blessed we both were by loving friends and family. Tom was at peace with his decision, and the previous year had taken a terrible toll on his body. Even in the darkness of this disease, Tom kept a good attitude about the treatments, ministered to those in the waiting room at M.D. Anderson when waiting for transfusions, and told them about South Main Baptist Church. I was not ready to give him up, nor were his sons, his sisters, nor our grandchildren. I was not prepared for the depth of grief I felt at his passing. But the assurance of God's presence, the promise of eternal life, and the knowledge that Tom is now living in the presence of God has comforted and blessed me. I am filled with gratitude for having shared my life with my husband for 55 years!
During this season of Lent I will be reflecting on God's goodness and blessings throughout my life and the peace He has bestowed on me through that time of darkness. My prayer is that I can be a light for others who may be facing the loss of someone they love.
Carolyn Williams is a deacon, member of the Sanctuary Choir, and a member of the Power and Light Sunday School Community. She has two sons and daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren.