Some of you know that Cheryl Lynn, my wife of 46 years, left this world on May 12, 2020, after several years of extreme illness. She is now with Jesus, the One Great Love of her life. I am not jealous for He is the One Great Love of my life too and the One who brought us together 47 years ago on July 4th. But life isn’t the same without her. I miss her like crazy and can’t dwell on that too long without being overcome with sorrow (the crippling kind that pierces your heart with pain making it difficult to live life as you once did.) Romantically, she was my better half and the one true love of my life.
We didn’t engage in too many public displays of affection, because we were leaders of a youth ministry. But after 46 years of marriage, I don’t know how we could have been any closer. We talked about everything. We spent every minute together that we could, especially after she contracted cancer 10 years ago. She survived the cancer, but she never felt the same. She lived in daily pain and suffered from a litany of afflictions – COPD, UTIs, bowel blockages from the scarring left from the cancer surgery, and a damaged heart valve. We didn’t ignore these issues. We prayed and made dozens of visits to doctors. But none was able to successfully heal her of her suffering.
Then in the midst of the Corona pandemic, she was hit with the pain of kidney stones. The surgeon removed them, but the infection led to sepsis, and one week later she died of septic shock. The hardest part for our family was that once admitted to the hospital, none of us could visit her again due to the Covid crisis. Once the medical staff was sure she was dying, I (Gary) was granted access to her room for her last 16 hours, while Heidi, Rebecca, and Benjamin waited in the parking lot and our grandchildren stayed with at home with Aaron. At that point she was unconscious and didn’t know that I was in the room. This was the most painful experience of our lives – suddenly losing the best wife and sweetest mama on earth and not able to say goodbye. Now in Heaven, I’m sure she understands the circumstances. But at the time it broke our hearts to leave her alone in the hospital.
Since then we arranged her burial at Pleasant Home Cemetery, a beautiful resting place 10 minutes from our home, are picking a fitting headstone, and doing all the paperwork from when a loved one dies. Other than that, I haven’t been sure what to do next. Everyone needs a purpose for living. So I’ve been attending Becca’s and Heidi’s churches, praying for the Holy Spirit to show me if there’s a way I can help. I also woke up this morning certain that I’m still called to preach the Gospel. So here I am blogging again, trying to reach the largest audience I can in the time that remains. If you recall, that was Cheryl’s passion. She didn’t want anyone to go to hell, so she talked to everyone, even strangers in the grocery line about their need of Jesus.
Everything else I’m taking one day at a time, asking God to lead me into what he wants me to do. When I first believed in Christ, I had no idea what to do next. I didn’t have a home church. So Cheryl’s dad asked me to visit his church, and I did. I also began to pray for God to lead me to His choice of a wife. Cheryl was away at Bible School at the time, but when she returned that summer we met at a 4th of July picnic to which we were the only singles invited. I was looking for someone sweet, smart, and pretty who loved Jesus. She met every desire I had, and apparently she liked me too. Because when I followed up with a telephone call, she agreed to date me – on one condition: break it off with the other girls I was dating. ” “This is moving fast,” I thought!” But I was happy. For one year later – August 23, 1974 – I married my dearest friend at her father’s church in Tacoma.
Now I’m caught in a similar situation. I’m not looking to get married again. When you’ve had the best, it isn’t fair to look for a replacement. Who could live up to my memories of Cheryl. So what’s next? I have no more wisdom now than when I first began to follow Christ. So I’m doing what I did then – going to church, reading the Bible and praying everyday, encouraging my family, and reaching out to others with the truth of Christ. The hardest part of all this, for which I ask prayer is the loneliness. I know I am not alone – Christ has promised never to leave me nor forsake me, I have two beautiful and loving daughters with great families whom I see two or three times a week, and friends I can call when I need to hear a reassuring voice. But it was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And for the past 46 years, Cheryl kept me from any feelings of loneliness. But now she’s gone!
By the way, if you’re feeling alone right now, (maybe you’re widowed or a young person facing a lonely lifetime) write me a note and maybe I can give you hope. And for those of you who, like me, miss Cheryl’s presence in your life, write me a note and tell me why. Because of Covid rules, we weren’t able to hold a public funeral service for her. We had a private service for our immediate family. So now we’re looking ahead to when this epidemic eases and we can hold a memorial service celebrating her life. Until then, please send us email memories that we can read at that time.
Love and thanks to all!
Gary Schwarz and family
(P. S. Please be patient with me. I’m not yet ready to remove Cheryl’s name or pictures from this blog or the wedding ring from my finger. Thanks for understanding! Two months is too soon to forget her.)