Friday, November 15, 2013

Watching a friend slip away...

John Shaffer (left) and Peter Douglas***...Edinburgh, Scotland, 2008
John Shaffer is our former pastor's spouse...a great friend, and one from whom I have learned so much.

John was diagnosed with lymphoma in June, just days after we got back from Mexico with the Shaffers and the Browns. He fought it hard and with grace, but discovered that after all the treatments the cancer had spread to his bone marrow and  he had little chance of getting better even with more extensive chemo. He chose to end treatment.

Needless to say that has been a hard message to hear, but John has been the Model of Serenity as I heard one person describe him...we spent Wednesday afternoon with him, virtually saying good by.

"Don't cry for me," he said. "I am 66 and have had a good life." But cry we did and cry we shall as the days tick away. He is under hospice care in Bend now.

John taught me about all sorts of things: how to identify bear scat, about single malt whiskey, river rafting, how to be a great friend and on and on. John got me involved in the church garden. When they moved four years ago he left the technical side of the church garden in my hands. Reluctant at first, I soon found out why he was so passionate about the care of our 100x150 plot of God's good earth.

John convinced me to become involved with driving the church pick up folk at local adult care centers. It has since become my passion and ministry as I greet (mostly) ladies a lot of Sundays of the year.

John got me involved in FISH the local food bank. He had been the driver for one of our saints who realized he did not need to drive his pick-up to get food and recycle corrugated products any longer and needed some help. When John left, I took over that mission too and in the process have become attached to my the I was recently reminded.

We have been in touch constantly since they went to Bend and have been there several times for visits, so we are used to not seeing John for long periods, but passing is final and thinking about the last time(s) is brutal on the emotions. John and I have texted every day since his diagnosis...words of encouragement, wonder and laughter...whew.

We are not sure how long he has...weeks, we are told...hopefully longer, but John is convinced that passing on his terms is better than the painful slow deterioration he would experience with more treatment and virtually no hope of success.

To say that we love him is an understatement. We will be there for Janie in the future, but wow...thoughts about the future with no John are sad ones.
His motto: I am not crying because I am afraid; I cry because I am blessed. O to be able to face death the same way when it is our turn.

***Peter Douglas and his wife Jesse were our host and hostess (Aleene and I stayed with them) while we were in Scotland for two weeks. Pete has remained a friend and we keep in touch by Face Book. John and Janie served the Richmond-Craigmiller church in Edinburgh when they were first Pete has known John much longer than I and is suffering right along with us during this time...

1 comment:

Tom said...

John died on Saturday, November 16 just three days after we saw him. What a great friend and exemplar of grace and dignity.