A month ago I was told my father's sister had pancreatic cancer. She had a stomach ache and a fever that wouldn't go away. The health of this 77-year-old woman failed rapidly. I talked with RLB about how desperately I wanted to see her before she died. It had been two years since I'd enjoyed her company and though we kept in touch with letters, I longed to hug her one last time.Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2
RLB doesn't travel well with his back injury. He can tolerate about six hours of riding in our truck in a day with a few stops. We knew it would be a three day journey back to my father and Auntie's hometown. My son was set to start school in a couple days and would be missing the first full week of school and two weeks of football practice. None of this could matter. This was about a life. A very special woman's life. What could be more important or of a higher priority?
We all worked hard getting our bags packed, dogs and cat boarded, the official leave paperwork for RLB on file with his Unit, mail and newspaper suspended, called the neighbors, school counselor, and coaches, rescheduled appointments, and prepared the house to be vacant for a couple weeks. An hour before we would start driving I got the call from my grieving father. "She's gone."
Our journey had changed from being one about saying goodbye to one about grieving yet celebrating her life.
She ran her race well.
Her bright eyes and loving smile will be forever remembered by those who loved her. There isn't a soul who loved her who didn't also know her love well. She was a giver, an encourager, and overall one of the best people I've known in life. It broke my heart to see the pain and grief in my uncle's eyes as he said goodbye to his wife of 58 years. Her daughter is a rock who is caring for her father in the same doting way her mother did.
We decided to also turn this trip into a vacation. It's been two years since we've had one. We played tourists in this beautiful city of Duluth, Minnesota. I made sure we stopped in Hinckley to eat at Tobie's where, to my surprise, our Celiac daughter was also able to eat due to their large selection of gluten free foods. While in Duluth, we stayed at a water park hotel on the shore of Lake Superior. I took our children down memory lane as I showed them all of the places I lived and schools I attended the few years I lived in Duluth. We toured Canal Park, went to the shipping museum, the beach, the zoo, and our son made sure he was awake to see a 1000 foot iron ore ship traverse the canal one night.
After my aunt's funeral we traveled to RLB's parents' home to stay a couple days. We had a great time with his family and again played tourist for a day there. The highlight of that stay was what RLB wrote about. I couldn't have asked for a better father-in-law. It is his wisdom we cleave to.
He continues to run his race well.
On our way home we stopped in the small town that will be the town we settle in when RLB is medically discharged/retired from the Army. We looked at available properties and were able to hone in on exactly what we want to purchase. This town is close to a huge lake and many rivers. RLB and I are chomping at the bit to get there and fish to our hearts' content. After looking at properties I asked RLB to guide us to the pretty. I drove as he navigated. Less than ten minutes from where ever we choose to live is this slice of heaven he found that features a public boat landing, sandy beach, and hiking trails:
Now that we're back home and the busyness of this time of our life continues, I have this image to focus on. My days are full of getting my daughters' homeschool curriculum put together, shopping for the "I needed it yesterday" items, yard and housework, preparing our house to sell, planning our move, and continuing on with my fitness goals. It is just like RLB to set upon my heart what awaits as I run with endurance the race that is set before me, in this life and beyond.
I am so unbelievably blessed to be married to a man who is running his race well.