Safely Home With God

On Saturday, February 19, 2022, my husband had been in the hospital for three weeks dealing with complications from his cancer, but he was feeling better and asked for some wonton soup.

“Great idea,” said his doctor.

“Wonderful,” said his dietician.

So I brought my husband the wonton soup he asked for, and spooned some into a bowl that I brought from home along with one of our glass Chinese soup spoons. “You’re so good to me,” he said.

He savoured each wonton as we watched the Olympics together and as he explained the intricacies of curling to me.

But suddenly he was overcome by yet another cancer-related complication, and just a few hours later with me at his side, he breathed his last and crossed the threshold between this life and the next. Instead of bringing him safely home to me, God brought him safely to our eternal home.

I am still in shock and devastated by this sharp turn in our journey, in such a different direction than we and many had prayed for and different than even Gary’s medical team had expected, although of course they are well aware that critical events can happen at any time. Yet I am also deeply grateful for the life we shared together until the end, for all the prayers and support that have sustained us, and for God’s abiding presence and mercy.

Rest well, my dearheart. Always yours.

People are like a breath;
their lives are like passing shadows.
Lord, tear open the sky and come down.
Psalm 144:4-5

Gary was born in Vancouver, B.C., played many sports in his childhood and youth, met me in high school, was baptized into the church, married me just before he started law school, graduated and passed the bar, managed a running shoe store, earned a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in biblical studies. He taught at a Bible school for over twenty-five years, then taught and supervised grad students at a Christian university. His research specialty was perspective criticism, and his latest project was developing an animated video series to teach New Testament Greek.

Gary was an innovative teacher and scholar, who met hardship with endurance and faith in God, and was unfailingly kind to others even as he went through hospitalizations and chemotherapy. He loved mentoring and encouraging others, watching and analyzing movies, running for fitness and even moreso for the sense of freedom it gave him, tending daily to his fantasy hockey pool, and being “at home with just us two.”

The positive thoughts and prayers of many within and beyond the church community and the expressions of care from family, friends, church members, health care workers, and even strangers have been a key part of this journey. In deep grief and deep gratitude, thanks be to God.

In lieu of a memorial service, please read the tribute and celebrate Gary’s life by giving blood, encouraging a health care worker, or doing some other deliberate act of kindness. Donations in his memory gratefully received by a charity of your choice.

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Matthew 22:37, 39


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41 thoughts on “Safely Home With God

  1. Dear April, I am so very sorry for your loss! Even though our paths crossed only periodically, I remember you both well… Gary for his warm smile, and you for your writing, which has spoken to me in some difficult times. May God wrap his loving arms around you and give you peace!

  2. I’m reading this with tears in my eyes, April, for your loss 🥲. May Gods wrap His everlasting arms around you as you grieve and find your way forward, breath by breath.
    Sending my love 💗

    1. Thank you, Nancy. When taking things a day at a time or a half day at a time seems like too much, when it seems impossible to find a way forward, I can still rest in God’s everlasting arms and take things “breath by breath.” I so appreciate that reminder.

  3. April, I am in tears. When I read your title my heart just broke open. Hardy is going through some tests this morning as I read your post. Although it feels like we are so alone at times, the everlasting God is there with us and will never leave us or forsake us.Even when we don’t feel God’s presence, God is there!

    1. Thank you, Elfrieda, for your support and prayers. I’ve been grateful for your company on this road, and I pray for you and Hardy as you face your own challenges. Yes, truly, God is with us in whatever we face in this life and the life to come.

  4. Dear April,
    I am so sad for your devastating loss. All my problems seem so small and selfish.

    Love and hugs to you
    Ruth Bowker

  5. May God grant you strength and peace as you remember and savour all the precious moments you and Gary had together.

  6. Dear April, what a prince among men! A generous visionary, man of grace equally well-versed in law, joyful athlete, and all-round faithfully kind and gifted man. I wish I had known him.

    Peace keep you. And prayers rising . . .

    1. Yes, Marian, even for those of us who regularly work and play with words, at times like these words fail, and yet I so deeply appreciate them. Thank you for your words and hugs of comfort.

  7. Oh, dear April. I didn’t want to believe what I read. Your experience mirrors mine and my heart aches for you. Yes, you will go on being who you are and giving as you have, but give yourself time to let your grief be real, and when you can’t keep a commitment, say so. My prayers will certainly surround you.

  8. Oh April, may the Lord comfort and give you peace. Also just saw this, but thankful Gary is home with his heavenly Father.

    1. Yes, I’m thankful too that we have a hope beyond this earthly life, and in the meantime God’s comfort and peace for the sorrows of this earth. Thank you for your comment.

  9. April, I am so sorry for your loss of your husband. Please heavenly Father place your loving arms around April and her family. Glory to God, Gary is looking down on us and in the best of company.

  10. Precious in the eyes of God is the death of one of His saints. I think the companion verse is the one that says there is great rejoicing in heaven when one sinner comes to faith. On both occasions, there is joy in heaven. We are valued by our Father who yearns for us to be with Him in Heaven forever.

    1. Ah yes, Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.: And Luke 15:10: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Thank you for reminding me of these precious verses.

  11. You and Gary were devoted to one another till the very end, and your love for each other truly showed. Gary had incredible depth of knowledge and passion for the areas and lives in which he was clearly (long) invested. Thank you for sharing a window into this heart…full of grace and truth.

  12. May the Peace of Christ sustain you as it did me in the passing of my 24yr old son in 2018. Your faith in the eternal realm will see you through this most devastating time in your life’s journey.

    1. I’m sorry for the passing of your son. Thank you for sharing this with me and for your witness to the sustaining power of God through your time of loss and grief. May God continue to grant peace for your journey and mine. Amen.

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