“Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”  Those are wise words out of the mouth of an otherwise particularly spacey blue tang fish that goes by the name of Dory.  Can you hear the tune in your head?  You can thank me again later when it is still going around in your head.

Oh what fun we had tonight!  The kids and I handed out Christmas goodies to our neighbors – most of whom actually live near us and a couple who are just neighborly.  After getting back to the house from the last planned stop for the evening, I noticed the lights were on in my neighbor’s house and two cars were in the drive.

The house has been for sale and empty for a while.  The owner was a widow who passed away last October.  I have been blessed with many precious neighbors, but she held a special place in my heart. She had been kind to us and interested in our lives. She also had cancer so she was more interested in Jeff’s health than the average stranger.   We shared widowhood for seven months after Jeff died before she passed away from a stroke.  Her family brought her home to die.  I saw the ambulance pull up and take her inside that night.  There were a lot of cars parked out front.  I’d intended to make her cinnamon rolls for too long, but hadn’t done it.  Now I knew it was probably too late. The next morning I was working outside when one of her daughters came out of the house and walked by close to where I was.  “Can I see Sandy?  I want to see Sandy,” I blurted out before I found some reason to miss what I feared might be my last chance.  I had regrets about not taking time to make her cinnamon rolls.  I wasn’t going to have regrets about not saying good-bye.  Her daughter took me in the house and I sat by Sandy’s bedside as she lay comatose.  Her children and I talked of things Sandy liked to do, and how she loved her family, and of a place where there will be no more tears for all eternity.

I’ve seen them coming and going as they’ve been sorting through the family’s past and getting the house ready to sell, but I’ve not talked with them much. Until tonight.  I wasn’t sure if the cars in the drive belonged to Sandy’s kids or the new owners.  It was later than I would typically show up at someone’s front door.  But I knew whoever was at Sandy’s house was surely awake because there are no beds in the house.  I took a plate of Christmas goodies and walked to their door, rang the bell and waited to see who might come. It was Sandy’s kids.  The house closing is tomorrow morning.  They were there to say good-bye.  “We’re taking pictures of the emptiness,” her daughter whispered through her tears as she hugged me tight.  “The house isn’t the only place that feels empty, is it?” I asked.  “No,” she said.  I tried to encourage her with these words, “After Jeff died, someone told me to give myself two years to heal. At the time I thought, ‘That’s impossible!  I won’t live two years through this pain. That’s an eternity away!’  But It’s almost been two years.  I’ve done it.  You’ll make it, too.”  And we talked more of that place where we will never say good-bye and time will melt into eternity.

Dory might be on to something.  There are no magic cures or cleverly devised protocols that will allow us to by-pass the hurts in life.  While we live in the darkness of this world where problems are many and answers are few, sometimes all we can do is just keep swimming, believing one day we will reach our Destination.

“Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 God’s Word Translation.  Just keep swimming.

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  1. Sometimes swimming feels like drowning but if you keep at it seems like later swimming happens…

    • Yep. Never trust your feelings. And everybody needs to have at least one Dory-ish person in their life to cheer them on.

  2. Holding On

     /  December 19, 2011

    Amen to your post Salt. What a blessing you are to your neighbors.

    • It’s really not been a fair trade, Holding On. They’ve been a greater blessing to me. God put me right where I needed to be for this time in my life.

  3. Carol L.

     /  December 19, 2011

    Our SS study was on “walking in the Spirit.” I think it could just as well been called “swimming in the Spirit.” Go for it!

  4. The empty house can really get you down fast. Still trying to sell ours parents’ house. So hard to let go of it though. Unfortunately, I never learned how to swim, but I feel like I’m doing it now!

  5. Holding On

     /  December 20, 2011

    That is great…..it is a blessing when we can see God’s hand in our lives.

  6. Carla Fetch

     /  January 5, 2012

    Dr. Trotter:
    Your writings are beautiful, inspiring and filled with love. I have read a number of them and will continue to check in from time to time. Thanks for sharing your site. A Nov. 28, 2011 patient. Carla

  7. This was really special and touching. Really good. We never know when a simple, kind word or gesture might be exactly what the person is needing at exactly that time in their life. That’s those promptings that we get from God, and I have to admit, I’ve ignored them more often than I should. Not proud of that.


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