Monkey In A Murky Mirror

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monday marked three months since Ginny died and my roller-coaster ride of emotions continues, especially in the light of what Dr. Oz told me yesterday.

When my daughter Eve read my previous posting, the one about Columbus’s monkey, she bought me a gift from a shop in Fernandina Beach:

 Brass monkey

Yes, it is a brass monkey studying himself in a looking glass; a circle of mirror set in the brass reflects that monkey’s face:

Does that remind you of anyone?

Eve says I engage in too much introspection, mostly unnecessarily negative.

While a certain amount of self examination may be healthy, I may over do it a trifle. Sometimes I think the world and all its problems hinges on me and I’m to blame.

For instance, most of the time, my predominant thought concerning my life with Ginny revolves around how thankful I am for the privilege of being her husband for 43 years, and I thank God for the wonderful life we enjoyed.

Yes, sometimes I weep for her and often I laugh at happy memories, and I long to tell her about funny or interesting things things I saw during a day. And I miss our happy sex live; she always made me feel like the greatest lover since Casanova…But recently I’ve begun to reexamine the medical events around her death and I’ve been feeling guilty that I may have made some mistake in her care. I review my extensive notes on every injection, every change in medication, every event to see if I should have done something, anything, different as her primary care giver. I wonder if I misunderstood some instruction from the team of doctors and nurses supervising her care.

And I find no fault in what we all did for her.

Yet, undifferentiated guilt seeps into my thinking.

What a crock!

She could have had no better care by anyone anywhere. So why do I feel guilty?

Because I forget just how good things were.

The Apostle James said, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass (the word the Bible uses for mirror) : For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed”.

Yes, I tend to forget good things and only remember negative.

I need to refocus.

To refocus on love.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there the heart is free to love.

St. Paul said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

Does my brass monkey have an open face? honestly looking for the Lord, not into the dark places of his own heart?

In the Bible’s Love Chapter, I Corinthians 13, Paul said, “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known”.

What a great prospect. We shall see, not our own dim reflection but the face of God Himself, the face we have always yearned to see smiling at us.

Yesterday, Dr. Oz, my oncologist, said my psa reading is only 57, just double what it was last year. He says my prostate cancer has not metastasized yet and that I’ likely to live for a couple of years still, at least I’m not threatened by that cancer.

I felt disappointed at that news.

Ginny and I always assumed I’d be the one to die first. The world seems out of kilter with her dead and me left to go on. I’d half-way hoped my own cancer would cooperate and I’d leave for Home soon.

No such luck.

I’m here still and I’m in the process of deciding what kind of person I am and what the Lord wants me to do or be in my remaining time, which may be for years.

Since Dr. Oz foresees that I am not in the Homestretch yet, after I talked with him, I pulled out my planning calendar to plot, God willing, decisions, work, purchases, etc. that I’d been putting off.

Incidentally, Dr. Oz told me that he’s never before seen patients with a healthier, happier, more loving world-view than what he detected in Ginny and me.

I’m not sure what he saw in us, but what a nice compliment!

My faith, my joy, my responsibilities were not wrapped up solely in Ginny. She was my helpmate, and I hers, but I’m now the one who needs to live out my life. And my main question, like that of all Christians, remains, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me do”?

But what about all my survivor’s guilt and negative feelings and introspection?

Well, I think it was King Solomon who observed that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Who can know it?

If I can’t trust my own heart, who can I trust?

St. John address that very question. He said, Beloved, “Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before God. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”.

If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

So, no matter what my introspection, negative thoughts, sins, misgivings, guilt—no matter what my mirror shows me, no matter what unrealistic pictures my mind dredges up, no matter what my heart says…

Anything less than confidence in God Himself is just monkey business.

Brass monkey in mirror 2 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wes
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 19:20:35

    You didn’t make any mistakes, John. You did all you could and did it very well. I am sorry for your howling, aching grief.

  2. John M Cowart
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 22:11:57

    I’ve the same sort of thoughts Dad. Did I do enough? Did I get it right? Did I give her too much or too little of a dose to keep the pain at bay?

    If I’d pushed that plunger a bit harder and squeezed out the last drop? Would that have made a difference?

    “God is the God of both the quick and the dead.” Mom said that any number of times during her passing time.

    When I think of such things what comes to mind is “The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of The Lord!

    We didn’t have to “Get it right.” God makes all things, all situations, all joy and all suffering bend to his will. We His children are in no way ever forsaken or forgotten.

    We live, and move and have our being in Him. And so does Mom! She graduated. That’s all it means. She went from elementary school to high school. In time we shall join her in happy reunion.

    This world’s Death is an illusion. A fake and a phoney. In the real world there is no death. No endings. And then we shall see in light. We will understand all and have no questions from the past. For then we shall Know!

    Wow! That’s sort of a scary thought itself! Do I want to know? What if I don’t like what I see?

    Then Mom will give me a hug, tell me I’m being an idiot! And to look again. 🙂

    Love you Dad!