Cara – On April 9th, 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesus came and took my husband Bob home. My life is forever changed.
Life without Bob is very different. I lost my very best friend. He was the man I spent 32 wonderful years with. The man that was my past, my present, and was supposed to be my future. We were supposed to grow old together, and now all the plans that we made are scattered into a million pieces on the floor. I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll ever pick up all of those broken pieces, let alone put them back together again. The past four years have been difficult, but what is most difficult, is now learning how to live a life without the man who was my life.
The four-year journey that we have endured wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the most difficult time of our lives. But it was our journey and although I sometimes would wake up wondering how we’d make it through another day, it has also been filled with so many blessings.
Bob had a very rare form of lung cancer, yet he never smoked. A genetic mutation called ROS1 that less than 1% of people diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer get. At diagnosis, he was already a stage IV, which means that it had already metastasized or spread to another organ. In Bob’s case, his brain.
Bob should not have lived those 4 years with the diagnosis that he had. Most people with stage IV ROS1 NSCLC only live for about 14 months. But we were blessed with four years! Four years of hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.” Four years of conversations, holidays, family meals, and getting to say things to each other that we wouldn’t have been able to if the terminal diagnosis never happened.
Like so many people, we previously took life for granted. We thought we would always be here and live to a ripe old age. But when you are given a terminal diagnosis, you look at life totally different. Suddenly, you have a “timeline” or an “expiration date.” You live each day like it’s your last. You love a little deeper and you hug a little longer. You enjoy every minute possible with family and friends.
Cancer was a wakeup call for our faith. Yes, we believed in God, but we didn’t go to church regularly or truly know who God was. But sometimes you need that “wake-up call”. Sometimes God needs to bring you to a place where you are broken and scared because it is only there that you finally recognize that you cannot do it without Him, that He is all you have. He was our strength at the foot of the mountain we thought was too great to climb and putting us there was part of His plan. This was a mountain that was so steep and treacherous, filled with bumps, boulders, and obstacles along the way, one that we could never even imagine climbing on our own. God helped us every step of the way, never leaving or forsaking us. It was in our weakness that His power was made perfect.
Matthew’s music was a huge inspiration and influence in our lives over the past 4 years. As the years passed and Bob got sicker, little by little family and friends dwindled. “The God Who Stays” was Bob’s FAVORITE song that he listened to multiple times a day. He always said, “The whole world can walk away, but not my God…. He always stays.”
Until you are faced with such devastation, you have no idea how much you need God. Like Matthew sings in Strong Enough, (he dedicated this song to Bob at his show in Cape Cod, August of 2019) “It’s when you reach rock bottom that there’s only one way to look and that’s up.” God took hold of us. He showed us that we weren’t alone, that He is our strength, and that He was going to help us get through this no matter what.
In writing this, I was reminded of how many blessings God has given my family over the past four years and I would like to share some with you all.
Within the four years of this battle, we were able to take a wonderful family vacation to Cancun, Mexico. We were able to see our daughter, Kyleigh graduate college and walk across the stage to receive a bachelor’s degree in biology. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in Punta Cana on September 11, 2018. Bob surprised me with front row tickets to two of Matthew’s shows. August 17, 2019 in Cape Cod, and March 8, 2020 in Albany, NY. (Matthew and Casting Crowns last show before the covid shut down). And lastly, we got to celebrate Bob’s 50 birthday 12/24/19 Christmas Eve. A milestone birthday we all thought he’d never see.
Most people would blame God for this horrible hand my family has been dealt or for not answering our prayers for a miracle of healing, but we did get a miracle. Bob should not have lived for 4 years with the diagnosis he had. And through it all, with a smile on his face, he not only had the chance to make more memories with me and Kyleigh, but he also got to see the grace of God and grow closer to Him by developing a personal relationship. Finally, he was able to inspire others and point them to our faithful Father. He is the strongest man I will ever know, and I am so proud to be able to call him mine. I was able to spend 32 amazing years with a great man. Naturally it wasn’t long enough, but the love we shared in 32 years is a love some will never know in their entire lifetime.
Bob left me with one of the most amazing gifts ever, our beautiful daughter, Kyleigh. She has helped me through this difficult time, and I am so blessed to have her. Some days it’s like Bob is still here with me, because as the days go by, the things she does and says are just like her dad.
What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today? What would you have? Tomorrow isn’t promised for any of us here on this earth, so love who you love, count your blessings and wake up each day and praise God for His grace, love, and mercy because without Him, nothing is possible.
Jesus said, in this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we are exempt from trials, tribulations, or suffering. Jesus knew firsthand these very things. Being a Christian means that you can find peace and comfort in the middle of the storm.
My husband was a wonderful man who was a huge inspiration, not only to me but to so many others that have had the opportunity to truly get to know him. During his four-year courageous battle, he became a true man of God. Always thinking of others, sending cards of hope and inspiration to others who were sick, praying for those in need, and offering help in any way possible, even if it was from his living room chair.
When Bob was first diagnosed on May 10, 2016, it was very important to him that he left his mark on this world. But as the time passed, and as he grew to know the Lord, it became very clear to him that leaving his mark didn’t matter anymore. Instead, what became important was being a faithful servant and pointing others to God, the one who never left his side, the one who is always faithful, the one who’s plan is always perfect even when we don’t understand.Bob said to me one night, “Cara, if I can help point just one person to God, then all of the pain and suffering I’ve endured was all worth it.”
Bob loved life and fought to live each and every day. He knew how fragile life is, but what he really knew is that life here on earth is temporary. That this isn’t where it ends. We are all just walking each other to our eternal home. I miss my husband so much, but I am clinging to the promise in knowing that one day we will all be together again in God’s glorious kingdom.
I find such comfort in Matthew’s song ‘Hope returns.’
It’s pretty scary being a widow at only 48, but I feel like every single word was written just for me…..
When your world is crashing,
When your knees hit the ground
When your heart is asking
What do I do now? ….
Just when you think it can’t get worse. Hold on…. That’s when Hope returns. ❤️