Roy Robson - August 1, 1943 - October 3, 2013
Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Psalm 23New Life Version (NLV)
23 The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. 2 He lets me rest in fields of green grass. He leads me beside the quiet waters. 3 He makes me strong again. He leads me in the way of living right with Himself which brings honor to His name. 4 Yes, even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of anything, because You are with me. You have a walking stick with which to guide and one with which to help. These comfort me. 5 You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need. 6 For sure, You will give me goodness and loving-kindness all the days of my life. Then I will live with You in Your house forever.
What do you do when you hear those dreaded words – cancer, inoperable, incurable, nothing we can do and months not years? We were in shock for the diagnosis came so quickly and unexpected.
The week was good with Roy enjoying seafood and the scene of the beach from our room but I noticed his skin tone was becoming yellow. After checking his medications on the Internet we realized that one of his medications could cause jaundice and thought that was the problem and could be taken care of with a medication change.
We began the next week with an appointment with Dr. Lindsey but he sent us to Dr. Fausset for the medication was not the problem. We saw Tom on Tuesday, went to the ER here in Adel on Wednesday, to Tifton on Wednesday afternoon, and found ourselves at Emory in Atlanta on Friday afternoon.All we knew at that time was there was a mass around the bile duct and a stent had been inserted to drain the poisons from his liver. We were told it was malignant but we were praying for surgery, chemo and or radiation for a cure.
We were not expecting that on Sunday morning our team of doctors would tell us after an MRI that ¾ of Roy’s liver and the bile ducts were being destroyed by a rare form of liver cancer for which there was no treatment. They explained that by the time it was found in most people, by the appearance of jaundice, it was beyond treatment. It is a silent killer with few symptoms and he had probably had it for several years.What do we do now? Alone with Roy in the hospital room I began to cry and ask God why “my Roy” was going to be taken away from me? We had been together for over 50 years and we wanted many more. A peace came over us and we knew the Lord was in that room and was ready to walk with us through this valley. I kissed this wonderful man, held his hand and he calmly began to tell me who he wanted to preach his funeral and who to call to tell them the diagnosis.
We were not in denial but beginning the journey when Roy would transition from his earthly home to his heavenly home. I called a family meeting in the hall with our children, his sister and her family and told them how we were going to live the months we had remaining. Notice, I said “live” for we determined to live with cancer until his last breath with joy and peace. Psalm 23 became our anchor that held us in the midst of the storm.We wanted his remaining days to be filled with family, friends, our pets and the best care we could give him. Joy was the theme and walking with Jesus as our guide would be taking us through this journey. We were determined it was not going to be filled with “why me” and sad faces but with people who would surround him with love and care.
Asking for help is not easy for me and this was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make but I realized that if I burned out, Roy’s care would suffer and I didn’t want that to happen. It is most important that you surround yourself with competent, caring and compassionate caregivers.
Hospice was notified before we left Atlanta by Tom and came to our home the night we returned. They were so kind and considerate and took care of all our needs both physical, emotionally and mentally. We met our case worker and nurse who are awesome, compassionate and loving and met all our needs quickly and with love. They are both Christians and work for hospice as a ministry not a job. They supported us throughout this journey with strong arms of Christ’s love.
The next day a hospital bed was delivered and we set up our sunroom as our bedroom so we had sunshine and a wonderful view on all sides. Hospice furnished oxygen, wheelchair, a lift, wheelchair and any other needs we had including medication free of charge to us. I had a fold out bed so I wouldn’t have to leave him at night and we settled in to live each day to its fullest. It became our refuge, our fortress, our Holy place for our Heavenly Father was present at all times. He never left us and He sent wonderful people to care for us and teach me how to meet Roy’s physical needs. We had sweet and caring ladies each day to help me bath Roy and change his bed to keep him clean and comfortable. They also are trained to see the condition of the patient and helped us to understand where we were in this journey. It was miraculous how He surrounded us with love from His children for one of these ladies has become like a daughter to us and has become part of our family.
We also were blessed with sitters from Comfort Keepers who sat with Roy so I could go to town for groceries and other needs. Each of them was special and one has become our other daughter too. She sat by Roy and held his hand until his last breath and gave him her love and care until the very end. She still calls me each week and visits when she can and I am thankful for this gift of love.
Our church family provided food most days and continually prayed for us. The gift of meals freed me to care for Roy and the prayers cushioned us with love to make the days easier. We can never thank this family for their love and care for us.
Our days were guided by how Roy was feeling. If he was having a good day, we got him up, had company, let him eat whatever he wanted, watched TV and enjoyed each other. Other days were spent with him sleeping and resting most of the day and we enjoyed quiet times together. We had a devotional time each day and listened to many hours of Gospel music and enjoyed sitting quietly and reading. We centered each day around Roy and this journey that we were walking together.
His last days were calm, peaceful and he was surrounded by our children, his sister, close friends, our hospice nurse and our sweet Comfort Keeper. The last day was peaceful, the room filled with sunshine, we sang hymns he loved, held his hand, told him goodbye for now, and waited with him for God to send his angels to carry him home.
Our little dog wanted to get on the bed with him and when I placed him on the bed, he walked slowly to Roy’s head, nudged his face and then lay down with his head on Roy’s hand. It was then that Roy took his last breath very quietly and peacefully. We all stood around his bed, held hands and sang the Doxology for we were well aware that we had experienced the Lord coming and taking His child home.
We are grieving the loss of this wonderful man for he was loved, respected, and liked by many. He was my friend, my husband, my lover, my rock, my strength but he had prepared me to go on without him. We are all so thankful we had him for those short 70 years for he taught us how to live and how to die. He lived a life of thinking about others first and dyed quietly and peacefully.
He taught us many lessons such as:
Love God with all your heart, soul and minds and put others first.
Live quietly and peacefully and do your very best with any task you are given
Give of yourself not expecting anything in return but just because God loves you and you love others as He would.
Laugh a lot and keep a sense of humor
Keep your eyes on God and when days are difficult and seem hopeless, have complete faith that God is in control
Though we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord was with us to guide and protect and carry us through to the entrance to heaven. To God be the glory.
As we go forward until the time we will be with him again, we live with him in our hearts and lives for each of us have been shaped into who we are because he was part of our lives. I will always be a “we” for he is part of who and what I am and I thank him for being the love of my life.
By Frances Robson