And so it is. Sometimes you meditate, peruse and ponder the variety offered and finally make what you feel will be the best choice. You place the chocolate in your mouth with anticipation only to find a most bitter taste when you bite down. Then, as you chew on it and it begins to dissolve in your mouth, the taste gets sweeter. Finally, just as you swallow the last vestiges of the chocolate, it leaves a sweet and lingering pleasant taste in your mouth.
Last week, I bit down on what was and, to some degree, continues to be a most bitter taste in my mouth. I was told by my surgeon at my follow up visit that I have grade 2, stage 3-4 liver disease as confirmed by a liver biopsy performed while I was in surgery. This basically means that at least 50% of my liver is already involved and I am transitioning from stage 3 to stage 4 liver disease. Stage 4 is what is more commonly known as End Stage Liver Disease or Cirrhosis. A visit with my gastroenterologist confirmed that I am indeed in the early stages of cirrhosis.
As I said, with this first bite, the taste is bitter. It has been barely 6 months since Terry went to meet the Lord and now I am faced with this diagnosis; the exact diagnosis we heard from Terry's doctor in July, 2004. The taste is bitter.
I am back to a place of near numbness in my heart. However, my spirit and my mind are moving forward with practical decisions. This is the exact mode I moved into when we got Terry's diagnosis. The difference this time is that I am exhausted from grieving and other health problems. The taste is bitter.
This is not what I had planned for this time of my life. The grief is becoming easier to bear. Life feels good again; not necessarily happy, but at least on the way to happy. Then, to have this pill to swallow. The taste is bitter. However, I do feel myself beginning to taste the sweetness of it all.
As I was driving a few days ago, I was praying and asking the Lord for direction in all of this. In an almost audible voice, He answered me "You asked me for life, health and strength to care for Terry and I granted your request. Terry is now with me". I almost had to pull off the road as the tears began to roll down my face! Yes, Lord, you gave me what I had asked for! Yet again, my prayers were answered! The taste is beginning to be sweeter.
My family and friends have circled the wagons around me with love, support and prayers. In all my life, other than when I was with Terry, I have never felt more loved than I do at this very moment. The taste is, indeed, beginning to be sweeter! I have felt the loving kindness of God soothing my spirit as I cry out to Him. I have felt the warmth and compassion of my family and friends as they reach out to me. The taste is getting sweeter.
I know the road ahead will be filled with potholes and pitfalls. There will be setbacks and complications, but God is still in control of my tomorrows and only He knows their number. That is not my concern. Thank you Lord for reminding me of that! The taste is sweeter.
I still have moments of the bittersweet; but by and large, the sweetness prevails. Just as chewing that chocolate candy often brings little bits of the bitterness back as you chew, so will this experience. However, the sweetness will over ride the bitterness and it will seem but a nuisance in order to enjoy the sweetness.
At some point in time, just as it does for all of us, my time to leave this world will come. Jesus will call my name and I will answer that call. I'll continue to enjoy the bitter with the sweet until that time comes. Then, and only then, will I know the joy of that last vestige of the temporary sweetness before stepping into the glory that awaits me. The taste is getting sweeter!
From an old hymn Momma used to sing around the house when I was a child:
"Sweeter gets the journey every day
Serving Jesus really pays
I'm so happy that I can say
Sweeter gets the journey every day."
The taste is most definitely getting sweeter as I journey to those last bits before it's all behind me.
"I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD."---Psalms 104: 33, 34