In honour and in memory of Rob Hall on the 7 year anniversary of his death, his wife Kate Smith (daughter of Jim and Kathy Cantelon) shared a beautiful tribute. Rob passed away serving in Zambia in a construction accident. As part of WOW’s tribute we dedicated a farm in Zambia in his name. Rob’s Farm currently provides food and employment opportunities for those we serve.
I’m sitting across from Tom as I write this. We’re sharing coffee and he’s reading with his head an inch from his book because he’s basically blind. I’m thinking about February 22nd seven years later and what happens to grief and life with the passage of time. It’s a weird year for me because I am the same age that Rob was when he died which just feels strange on so many levels.
Grief changes, but waves still come. It comes when something dumb happens like watching Episode 1 of “Friday Night Lights”, and when the Quarterback is in hospital with a spinal injury (Spoiler Alert); all I can watch is his cheerleader girlfriend sobbing in the waiting room, and I think…I was her, except he never came out of the hospital bed. When moments of the intensity of what you’ve been through hit, all you can do is cry in the shower. Then I have to call Tom, have him be wise and patient and loving and then I have to take kids to eye therapy and the dentist and this is just my life. Suffering requires a pouring out and waiting for healing. We are all Frodo with his lifelong Nazgul wound, hopefully you have some friends who are Elves.
There is a man at my work who I really respect going through late stage cancer. He has been so genuinely honest about not wanting to die, about what he hopes in, of what faith and love look like when you’re faced with looking at your mortality. I remember when my friend Ruth sat with her Aunt through hospice. She spoke of the scripture “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It just hit her because when there was no more hope that the doctors could cure her Aunt, and no more faith that she would outlast death, that love remained.
Grief for me has carried a private intensity, like a penny slowly descending to the bottom of a dark well, but it is true that once that grief settles down into the deep dark of your soul you find out what is true about your life and what remains.
What remains is the Spirit of God that gives peace beyond understanding. What remains are the relationships that were interwoven into Rob’s life, and my own and who he invested in and who invested in us. What remains are three spectacular kids and teddy bears made by a mom who cheered on Rob Hall with a home-made Carleton Place High School jersey. What remains is a sense of profound gratitude for the years of Love and Commitment that left me brave enough to love again. It’s still hard to write about these things. I feel like so much of my path has been like Mary “Pondering these things in her heart”. What a strange road life is, but it is beautiful.
Tom is up from his book, blasting Classical even though I know he would rather listen to Bruce Springstein while making me scrambled eggs and avocado.