The power of CHOICE
Last week I had coffee with a woman who lost her husband to cancer just days after Thanksgiving. Fresh grief. Shared grief. Heartbreak. Tears. The need to speak some things out loud. Acknowledgement that we are both members of what I've come to call "The Widow's Club." And, a determination to choose joy.
I had mentioned an article to her and it popped up in my Facebook memories today so I thought I would share it with you. It may have been a few years since I penned it while processing the loss of my sweet Luke, but it still packs a timely punch.
(This photo remains one of my most treasured. This was taken our first Christmas a married couple. Seven years before cancer began it's evil destruction.)
In the last hours of my late husband’s life, he reminded me that I have the power to choose.
A few days ago I came across the piece of paper that he had written his last words on and I was struck by what he had written. After I had told him there was no way to stop the cancer and that he was going to his real home in heaven soon, his thoughts weren’t for himself, but for me and our kids. Due to the collapse of both lungs, he wasn’t able to speak, so he wrote down those precious last words. He scribbled the usual words of love and a few important bits of information concerning financial matters, but the last thing he wrote was by far the most crucial.
“Remember every good memory.”
Those words made me stop and cry as I read them, for they wrapped around my heart with the truth that even in his last hours, Luke was my spiritual leader. The big, giant hole in my life that his death created seemed so much larger in that moment as I realized how much I had taken his leadership for granted.
“You can choose”, was the message of those words.
Luke, alone, knew the horrible things tucked away in my memory. The time spent battling cancer had filled both of us with too many pain filled memories. Sad moments spent in the hospitals and clinics. Whispers of terrible test results. Fear- breath stealing fear- as the paralysis crept up his legs and into his chest. Feelings of defeat and despair as we learned how to live with the paralysis. The list of heartbreaking memories goes on and on. Luke also knew there was a hard, lonely road ahead of me. He knew I would have to renew my mind and focus on God.
Even though Luke isn’t with me in my hardest moments these days, his last words are still cheering me on. They give me the perspective I need and reinforce my desire to choose joy. Life is hard, there’s no getting around it. But life is also about choice. We can always choose.
I cannot choose the memories that get stored in my mind, but I certainly can choose which ones I will dwell on.
I am reminded of a verse from Philippians, Luke’s favorite book in the Bible. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
What are you choosing to remember? I’m choosing to remember every good memory.
*Visit www.choosejoy.co to find out more about my decision to Choose Joy!