Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Am A Friend Of Bob

I spent most of today in the ER waiting room at Johnston Willis Hospital.

My friend Bob..........................


I find it difficult to finish that sentence. It's incomplete.

And yet it's full of life and potent and memorable, larger than you can imagine, clever and profound.

My friend Bob is amazingly funny.

My friend Bob has an awesome wife, and together they have a marriage that inspires and encourages me.

My friend Bob is the best friend my husband Tony has in this town.

My friend Bob turned me on to some awesome Bruce Hornsby music. And then my friend Bob and I went with our spouses to see Hornsby in concert. And it was brilliant.

My friend Bob has a voice that calls down angels, even when he is simply speaking.

My friend Bob plays and sings like a man who's been to hell and came back to tell us about the grace that brought him home. 'Cause that's what happened.

My friend Bob loves me, and he tells me so.

My friend Bob prays for me every single day.

My friend Bob introduced me to my friend Bobby and his beautiful wife Kathleen. 

My friend Bob is the connecting point for more people than I can count, most of whom are fascinating in their own right.

And today, in that waiting room, the traffic pattern ebbed and flowed but it stayed constant. We were friends of Bob, and if we didn't know each other to start with, we did within moments. And we were friends of Bob and friends of one another.

My friend Bob rode in an ambulance to the hospital today. The cancer that seized his body is roaming freely now, and there's little anyone can do to contain its appetite.

(I hate cancer.)

But what is intended for evil can be turned to good. We gather, the friends of Bob, whether together in person or in spirit, and we see how great the power of love can be.

It's amazing.

Even now, as I write to process my thoughts and feelings, I hear my husband in another room, playing his guitar. He is processing his thoughts and feelings, too.

I hear the chord changes and the words, though unsung, ring through my head and my heart. I know this song. I hear him.

You stay the same through the ages / Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage / I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that you love me
Your love never fails
You make all things work together for my good
You make all things work together for my good
You make all things work together for my good 
You make.....

Over and over, the bridge lyric resounds. All things for good.

I believe it. In the midst of the tears, and the sobs that choke in my throat and the grief that hovers like a cloud around my boots, I believe it. It spite of what's coming, I believe it. In the face of certain sorrow, I believe it. I know this is true.

Brian and I were with Bob early this afternoon. Wrapped in a flimsy hospital gown, oxygen flowing through his nostrils, blood caked around his lips and the tumor in his mouth, he grimaced.

"You're not feeling too good, are you?" Brian asked

Bob looked up at us and said two words.

"I'm ready."

(all things work together for my good)

Brian took a breath. "But what if we're not ready, Bob?"

He looked up again. I expected tears, a moment of power, a quote from scripture. His chapped, cracked lips parted and Bob spoke to us.

"Then you need to get over yourself."

(all things work together for my good)

I am sad, my heart is heavy. This day, combined with other sorrows that I know of that bring difficult days and nights to friends far and near - the burden of life itself feels overwhelming. I shook my fist at the sky today and said, "Dear God, if this is ministry - if this is what I have signed up for - I. DON'T. LIKE. IT. This is HARD!"

All things work together for my good. Life is hard. And it is, exactly and perfectly, what I am called to.


All things work together. For our good.

And I need to get over myself.

I love you, Bob Pino.



Anonymous said...

I love you Beth!
I hate cancer too! Bob is amazing! Jesus, keep and bless Bob & Jeanne!-myrna

Connie K. said...

When I went in to see him in the early evening, he asked me how I and my family were. Through this whole ordeal, i would send him emails to remind him that God is not finished with him on this earth yet. And even though the time is getting close, He is still working through Bob and Jeannie. I went there to minister to them, and I think that they ministered to me even more, by the grace and patience they exude, even in the midst of pain, sorrow, and exhaustion.

Bill said...

I origonally found you on a blog, Beth. God has skilled you to put into words what many of the rest of us can only feel. I only know Bob through the powerful prayer that Pat and I joined in while attending "on line chruch" this Sunday. I know this...His grace is sufficient....and we learn so much in times like these. All in this life will soon be passed...only what's done for Christ will last! Prayers for all of you.

Theatre Mom said...

I've been fighting my emotions since the moment today I received the news that Bob had been transported to JW and you have brilliantly put into words the love, frustration, admiration, and sorrow I continue to feel this evening. It's in His plan that we are all facing this with Bob and Jeannie for a purpose to be defined. Five years ago, almost to the day, my husband suffered a sudden cardiac death event. I know what Jeannie and Bob are dealing with tonight and I am glad I can share the memories and the prayers for him in this life and the hope for him as he enters his next phase with our Lord. God bless you, Beth, and God bless Bob and Jeannie.

Donia said...

Last Sunday when Brian stopped to pray for Bob...that was tough. I've know Bob and Jeannie for years, but haven't seen them in a long, long time. My dearest friend, Bernetta, died last month after over 5 years fighting breast cancer that took over her body. Even though you know what's coming, you just can't be ready. So glad you and others are there for them both.

Brandee Shafer said...

I love you for you, I love you for Jesus in you, I love you for loving Bob and Jeannie, I love you for keeping Bob and Jeannie company in the worst of times, I love you for being able to see Jesus even in this situation, and I love you for being able to write about that which hurts so many of us and makes us cry. I have so many things to write about yesterday (even in my NOT being physically with Bob and Jeannie), but who knows when those things will be ready to be born. In the meantime, I remain in prayer. Lots of love.

Gail said...

I have spent the last several months checking my email multiple times a day for Jeannie's update on Bob. Each time I opened my email, I held my breath. Each time I read the email and saw the encouraging words, I could breathe again. But the last couple of weeks were too hard. Each email was full of hurt... hurt for Bob, hurt for Jeannie, hurt for myself. I did not, and still do not, understand why Bob had to experience so much pain, and Jeannie had to suffer along with him. But I am not to understand such things now, and I accept that. I know Bob will be with our Lord very soon, and he will be waiting for his beautiful wife and the rest of us. I love you, Bob, and I love you Jeannie. Till we meet again...

Jeanette Brannan said...

I thank God that during this time of lucidity Bob is able to comprehend his situation and genuinely say,"I am ready." I hope he is able in his last days to enjoy anticipating what it will be like in the presence of the Almighty God and our Lord and Savior. If anyone can reach that level of communion at death's door, Bob can! And what a communication to share with a spouse! I thank God also that Jeannie is there with Bob, taking these last steps together. Our love and prayers are all over them!