Tuesday, July 31, 2012
My Grace Is Sufficient
By Carol Krejci R.N.
Special to ASSIST News Service
SANTEE, CA (ANS) -- My friend and physician, Dr. James LeSar, passed away from prostate cancer on April 18, 2012. The personal pain I felt at this loss cried out in my soul to be written. Unbelievably, he died all too young of an illness he had spent his professional life helping others to fight. With lonely tears I have been trying to grieve and mourn my loss, for I am living far from home here in California where there are no mutual friends to hug, no shoulders to cry upon. The words I have written flowed freely along with my tears. I pray my tribute will honor both my friend and our loving Lord.
His topic that evening was, What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Say.
“Always sit at eye level. Look into the eyes,” he had said.
Now it my turn – he’s looking into my eyes and they are welling with frightful tears. My mind rebels, knowing the worst is yet to come. With gentle compassion, he cups his healing hands, his physician hands, over mine and breaks the silence with one word, “Cancer.”
“Your mother had cancer, Carol. It’s very advanced. We’ll do surgery, chemo, and steroids … everything we can to help her and keep her comfortable.”
I nod my head, receive a hug and cry.
I watch my doctor friend over the years as he practices the art and science of medicine at our hospital in Lancaster, Ohio. At our first meeting I recognize he is special and has been gifted with a depth in his spirit by God. I observe that he possess a willingness to respond to God’s call, to be obedient with it is so much easier to ignore.
God spoke to my spirit soon thereafter:
Pray for this man, Carol. Can you join me in this? Be his encourager, for his shoulders will hang heavy with the weight of the burdens he will bear for his patients. He may not understand, but your prayers will serve My purpose.
Over the years our friendship grows. It is trusting and mutually respectful – and sometimes a bit spiritual also. As a nurse, I often encounter him in the hospital; as his patient – not so often. But there’s another aspect that remains real, yet ethereal. Often, during those 34 years, many of them deeply troubled for me, he seems to be there “just when encouragement is needed.”
“How did you know to come tonight?”
He hugs me, smiles and in softened voice says, “Somehow I just seem to know, Carol.”
He spends an hour holding her hand. His conversation is singular, for my mother is non-responsive. He can’t look into her eyes, but he sits at eye level and in tenderness and truth talks to her. He speaks of her illness, her courage and his challenges in caring for her. He tells her she will soon be set free from pain. I cry.
Twenty years later: May 2005
She offered him a Christmas cookie which he graciously accepted, knowing it would give her some sense of purpose in the declining days of her life. Her anger with him is gone, her dependence upon him deeper than ever.
I took a photo of the two of them that day, which I shared with him after she died. Years later, when I realized the original was missing, I asked him, after an office visit, if I could borrow his copy to have a reprint made. The search began immediately. He couldn’t find her chart in the office, so he went to a storage area where prior records were temporarily placed. Again … no chart, no photo. He surmised it was in the off-site secure location where the old charts are kept. He looked again at me with sadness in his eyes and apologized. I understood.
Now, years later, he found the photo, while writing a chapter for my book, Sowin’ Seeds and Touchin’ Lives. It is a book of faith, yet it contains much sorrow … my mother’s death and my dear friend, Steph’s, death. Although he was not Steph’s attending physician, he was on call that sad evening when I needed help in coordinating her final care. God, in His amazing way, saw fit that Dr. LeSar should touch her life once again when time was short.
Over dinner, we discuss the book and his contribution to it. His chapter in my book is titled, The Bride. In this poignant story, he shares his anguish, both as a son and a physician, when his mother is diagnosed with a malicious form of lung cancer. As she lies in her bed, so near to death, she tells him of the beauty she sees ‘beyond this life’. Angelic music attends her – the same music she had heard as a child when near death during surgery. He wrote, “As she slipped away, I thought to myself that now she could hear ‘the music’ for all eternity. It is a promise available to all.”
“I pray I don’t die alone,” he confides.
Six years later, April 2011
“Look what the chemo did to my fingernails, Carol.”
I choke back tears, but I cannot avoid his gaze for we are level across the table. Just a brief visit over lunch, before he drives to our hospital for his radiation treatment. His sparse hair is growing back following his chemo treatments; his face is puffy from medication which he must take to fight the evil cancer within him. He cups his hands over mine and asks me to pray the blessing for our meal and conversation.
“God, give me the strength,” is my silent prayer.
He wipes tears and says, “Seeing you reminds me of my patients. I want to get well, return to practicing medicine and care for them. He knows the gravity of his condition and its dire prognosis. He tells me he knows God can heal him. But if not, he is able to accept that also. I notice he eats very little of his meal. I cry.
We talk of many things – medicine, nursing, my writing, our loved ones, his illness and our faith … always we have talked about faith and God’s inimitable grace and goodness. We don’t understand about illness, but we agree … we trust His sovereignty. Soon it is time for him to drive himself the few blocks to the hospital. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a few tears and we say goodbye. I fear I will never see him again this side of Heaven.
His brown eyes twinkle in the photograph – they are looking directly in the camera and I see his peaceful spirit. His wife, Amy, has shared this and many other photo’s with me. Although I never did see him again, I learn through her of his final year, his final days and his final hours.
She tells of how he prayed God would grant him the grace to live with his dying as his mother had during her battle with cancer. I am assured by Amy’s tearful telling, that he indeed fought the fight, endured the battle one day at a time over the last year and died with dignity and grace. He had asked God for grace and it was granted. He had prayed for peace and it was given. Grace and peace are visible in his eyes as he smiles into the camera. Amy assured me that he did not die alone, but with loved ones holding his hands and that the last words he said to Amy were, “I love you.”
“…My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV)
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