My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Consider… the happy condition of a Christian! He has his best things last, and therefore in this world he receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are “later” good things, hard plowings yielding joyful harvests. – Spurgeon, ed. by Alistair Begg
Back during radiation days when Alice was on steroids, she was insatiably, obnoxiously hungry. All she could think about was eating. She would close her eyes at night dreaming of breakfast, and end each meal asking for more. There was no reaching “full” on her tummy gauge. I remember it was so hard trying to calm her down while she was miserably obsessing about food.
Then we discovered the word “later.” Alice, you can have more Cheerio bear later. You can have crispus chicken later. Yes, you can have noodles later. And wouldn’t you know it, it actually worked. She would say, “ok,” and for while anyway, that was that. She trusted us that the food was coming, and so long as the promise was there, she could, and did endure.
I was always surprised that it worked. But so long as we held up our end of the deal and “later” actually came, she was ok with putting up with a little misery in the present for some happiness in the future. She learned to work the system, too. “Dad, we can go to the store later.” Of course we can, after all, “later” isn’t now, and we will go to the store, so what was I supposed to say? But once she got my word, she made sure I didn’t forget. Later always came.
For 8-1/2 months now, we have been made keenly aware that our Alice gauge never gets quite full. You just can’t get enough Alice. Her smiles, giggles, her funny phrases, her winsome presence that just made life better because she was there in it, and the more Alice life had, the sweeter it was. If you knew Alice, or even if you’ve just seen her pictures and gotten to know her a little bit through the dim glass of my words, you know this to be true.
And so we have asked our Father for more Alice. Last night our Father said, “Later.”
As Alice trusted her “later” to Mama and Daddy, and in our imperfect, failing ways we tried to deliver, we now look to our Father fully expecting him to deliver.
Alice is in the Palace. A little after 9:00 I was lying beside her in bed, alternately doing a little reading, staring into those tired eyes or stroking her hair, or comforting Emily who was crying, lying on the other side of her, I noticed her breaths become incredibly shallow. At the piano, Michele had just finished playing “God be with you till we meet again,” and was tending to Violet. I called her in, and the kids all came in, and we gathered around, lifted Alice into Shelly’s arms, and together we watched and cried as Alice drew her final breaths. At 9:13, she was gone. We kissed her, cried over her, recited Psalm 23 together, and thanked our Lord for giving her to us. Better to have just a few short years of Alice time than none at all.
In the end, Alice died peacefully. I never would have believed she had the strength to endure as long as she did. There is so much more to her than we knew, even though by this time Shelly, the kids and I could have PhD’s in Aliceology, because knowing her has been such a central part of our life these last months.
Extended family came, Pastor Bob came, and we gathered around Alice, lying there in our bed. We hugged, cried, and heard him bring to us words of hope and comfort, the sweet promises of a loving Heavenly Father.
I had decided several months ago that if Alice must go, I wanted to build her coffin, or as I call it, her final bed. It just seemed right, and something I could do to honor my daughter. I guess I’ve always made most of the beds and furniture around our house, and I didn’t want her sleeping in a bed someone made when I could make it.
But it seemed wrong to be building it while she was awake, and I really didn’t want the other kids to know what I was doing, so one Friday night, about 11:00, my brothers and brother-in-law came, and we worked all night to build it, finishing up just after sunrise the next morning. I really hoped she’d never have to use it, but now that she needs one last bed for her weary body, I’m glad to have been able to give it to her. And I’m so grateful to my carpenter brothers for coming to tackle it with me, it was a great honor to watch them ply their tremendous skills at such a strange hour. I think I’ll always think fondly of that night, working together with them, hard as it was.
I feel like there should be an “end credits” or something, like this is the end of Alice’s story so I need to give thanks to everyone who made it what it was. Let me just say this, and I hope it suffices: Alice received more love and support from more people and places than any little girl could ever have dreamed. And because Michele and the kids and I were so near her, we got splashed, no, drenched with the deluge of love that you all have poured out on Alice. Thank you. Thank you to the people at the doctor’s house that she loved so much, thank you to our church family who continually encouraged me to just keep my eyes on Alice and made it possible for me to spend more time with her than I could have ever imagined. Thank you all who prayed her and us through this – I will say more to you hopefully in the near future – and thank you all who sent cards, money, gifts, little beams of light in our dark path that lifted our spirits, eased our burdens, and nourished our bodies and souls. Thank you to our families who have allowed their lives to be interrupted so many times to care for Alice and us.
And to the Lord Jesus, we thank you in faith, believing today as always that you have orchestrated this in such a way and for such a purpose that laterwe will give thanks and really feel thankful. We are thankful for so much goodness from your hand, but truth be told, right now we’d trade the goodness we’ve seen while losing Alice for just not losing her in the first place. We trust you.
As I thought about the imagery of Psalm 23 last night, particularly the green pastures and the table in the presence of the enemies, I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus and Alice having a bit of a picnic under some celestial chestnut tree in the front yard of the palace, her tumor lying lifeless and now harmless before them, Alice laughing as Jesus filled her cup and just kept pouring and pouring and pouring… I know she arrived thirsty. Anyway, as they raise their dripping glasses, Alice smirks and gives that wretched cancerous blob a slap and a poke, maybe hits it with a shovel handle, funny guys style. Surely goodness and mercy has followed her, and she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Can’t wait to join her.
Much more to say I suppose, but it will wait for another time.
Earlier this year, my lovely and talented Shelly drew the picture you see. I stole it, and it now hangs in my office.
We will begin figuring out funeral arrangements later this morning. I may post them here, otherwise I’m sure they’ll be making their rounds on Facebook.
June 9, 2018 at 9:47 am
Just love. No words. The Spirit knows the words, not I. I can only offer love and the certainty that yes, God did say. I will gladly explain that later when I see you again.
June 9, 2018 at 9:52 am
June 9, 2018 at 9:59 am
Our hearts are aching for you, dear brothers and sisters. We continue to pray for all of you.
June 9, 2018 at 9:59 am
My heart is broken. My sympathies to your family. May your grief be short and God fill your hearts with understanding now than later.
June 9, 2018 at 10:02 am
My heart has broken a thousand times and more this morning…seeing the notice of your fresh posting come through my inbox, my thought was only, “it is time…”
To loose a daughter is something that no amount of study, research, or reading will ever cover. For us, the reality of your loss is once removed as we are but mere travelers on your journey…but oh, how we grieve together you. We hold fast to the day when you are able to swoop her up into your arms again, and believe that on that day there will be rejoicing. For today, we trust our Father’s faithfulness and give thanks for his infinite love…and mourn in the depths of our souls the loss of your little girl.
Today, she rests with the King of Kings…may you find rest in the arm just adjacent to the one she is snuggled in. We will always be lifting you up in prayer. Know that the covering does not stop here.
June 9, 2018 at 10:03 am
Our deepest sympathy, tears, and prayers for comfort and mercy that only God can truly provide.
June 9, 2018 at 10:17 am
I haven’t met her yet but I know I would have loved her. I look forward to meeting her in Heaven. I can only imagine the depth of your grief and I will continue to pray for the strength to endure during this very difficult time.
June 9, 2018 at 10:25 am
I am so very sorry to hear this this morning. But we know He is good and Alice is now enjoying pleasures forevermore.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:9-11
June 9, 2018 at 10:25 am
My heart aches for your family. While we rejoice in the goodness of God’s grace and the peace Alice has in being present with her Heavenly Father, I know you and your family will need continued support and uplifting in the coming months and years. Her body has left you but her story is not finished, and will continue to show the light of Christ through sharing His goodness while we continue the race that Alice has already finished. I’ve been praying for you and will continue to uplift you all in prayer.
June 9, 2018 at 10:32 am
Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us and Alice. Your love of a father is so evident in spirit and truth; such an inspiration to us as well as an example to follow. All of our love to you, Michele, your children and extended family. Jesus wept and we weep with you all today; our hope is in the glory to come! God’s love, comfort and strength as His love endures forever!
June 9, 2018 at 10:43 am
The most BEAUTIFUL words written for the saddest of heartbreaks. Keep hanging on to the Heartmender! ♡ Prayers! ♡
June 9, 2018 at 11:00 am
Thoughts and prayers to your family at this time.
June 9, 2018 at 11:09 am
My soul is sick, my heart is sore. Weeping with you and praying for you all.
June 9, 2018 at 11:14 am
Tears with you. Alice has taught the world much. Please know I will not stop praying for your family! There aren’t words to express what I wish I could but your family had been such faithful witnesses to Jesus and I will be continuing to lift you up. I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. Love to you in Jesus Christ
June 9, 2018 at 11:46 am
praying for you and your family!
June 9, 2018 at 11:54 am
I know you will be so busy with final arrangements, but when you get a chance to catch up on comments, I hope this brings you encouragement. We lost my 21 year old brother in an accident in 2009. He left us with a gift…he wrote this for his friends, but then it was something that brought encouragement to us when we lost Daniel.
You will be in my prayers often. God will continue to walk you through the shadow of death. I always felt like that shadow remained during our darkest moments of grief…and now the shadow comes and goes as the years pass. I’m smiling as I think of sweet Alice in Heaven.
Written February 2008 by Daniel Spees as an encouragement after a loss of a friend. Let Dan’s own words be an encouragement as we mourn losing him.
Daniel Jeffers Spees 4/18/1988-6/2/2009
We’ve seen the many faces of our Wonderful Lord. We’ve seen power, we’ve seen grace, we’ve seen comfort, we’ve seen patience and we’ve seen love. We’ve seen the power in our frailty, and even more power in our salvation. We’ve seen the grace and mercy to get through hard times, we’ve seen comfort in the sleepless night hours, we’ve seen patience in our pondering as to why, and we’ve seen love. We’ve seen the love she had for Him, we’ve seen the love we have for her, more than that, we’ve seen the love He has for us.
Here is a word I’d like to share…Immutable. It’s a simple theology I learned when I was little, it simply means Unchangeable. Unchangeable!!! What an awesome truth that is! No matter who comes and goes in our life, our God will not change. He is that one thing that can calm our tears, and ease our minds.
Another word…Omniscience. It means all knowing, whenever I ask why I know that it’s all part of something larger than myself. He knew us before we were even a thought in our parent’s heads. He knew these events would happen, and He knows why, though we may not.
Omnipotent…All powerful. This one’s tough for me to swallow sometimes. All powerful, then why? Well, let’s refer back and see omniscient. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it’s all way bigger than us. God be praised!
Omnipresent…Always present. Talk about a comfort. On yet another sleepless night I know that I’m not alone. I can take comfort in the fact that my Omnipotent, Omniscient, Immutable God is here. What a relief that is for me.
Well those were just some thoughts I wanted to get out, but here’s another that fits in well…Why do any of these things matter to me? I’ll tell you, It’s because I’m a part of something larger than this world. My all powerful God, in a selfless act to defeat sin and OH YES DEATH, sent his only Son to die for us. That’s right, you and I. It couldn’t have been any other way, we are evil people and only a perfect sacrifice is worthy. Not only did He die though, cause what would be the point in that? No, death was defeated when my Savior rose from the grave. How amazing is that? A perfect man, never committed a single sin died and rose, just to save some average people like you and me.
So why do good people have to die? Well, I feel that she had fulfilled God’s purpose for Him. She believed that He died for her, and she lived to show that she served a living Savior. She wasn’t ashamed as I all to often am. I like to think that God saw that she didn’t need to suffer with the sin of this world anymore, so He called her home. Just imagine what a tragedy this would have been if she didn’t believe!!! So here I ask it straight out, what about you?
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (It’s in the Bible) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
June 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm
There are no words that could possibly be said to ease the pain you are feeling, but there is a great promise we get thanks to our savior Jesus Christ and I pray that promise holds you and brings you peace all the days of your life until you are back with your beautiful daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time.
June 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm
Praying that the Spirit comforts and strengthens your whole family. What a comfort to know your sweet Alice is happier and more joyful than she’s ever been!
June 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm
Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow🙏 This promise holds and you have the peace that you will see your little girl,all the days of your life too then.💕
June 9, 2018 at 12:35 pm
May our Good Lord bless you and your family for sharing your very personal journey through all of this. Your thoughts, heartache, and joys have touch my heart in ways I didn’t think possible. God Bless You!
June 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm
Through my tears, I truly believe that the end is the beginning. Love and prayers
June 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm
Everyone who’s known (and even heard if) Alice is sad…. But not Alice! I rejoice that she is in a perfect place & loving being in the presence of Jesus!
But especially for your family, I pray you know what it means to be “lavished” by His grace, comfort & peace! Continued prayers for each of you!
June 9, 2018 at 1:42 pm
So, our prayers for your sweet daughter ended yesterday and today our prayers are for you and your family- since you need to know the Lord in a way you never have. I don’t pretend to know what you’re going thru but please know we pray that the Lord will be so real to you right now.
Thank you for allowing us to pray with you all these months for that sweet girl.
With so much sadness, Lorna Salzano
Sent from XFINITY Connect App
June 9, 2018 at 3:53 pm
May the God of all hope grant you joy and peace in believing as you abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13, these are the first words that came to mind as I read this post. My heart and prayers are with you dear friends, and I do consider you friends, I feel ,, even though weve never met,, I know you all. And Alice especially. One of my prayers for Alice all these weeks was that if the Lord was going to bring her home, she would go peacefully, no suffering.. And it sounds like she did, and for that I thank you Jesus.. I can see Alice having a picnic with Jesus as well.. Thank you for sharing your precious little girl with us,, much love and prayer as you go through this difficult time.. Jamie
June 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm
As I cry with you and your family.I am deeply sorry for your loss. May god hold you and give you the strength you need threw this time.I no you don’t no me but I send my love and prayers to you all😇
June 9, 2018 at 4:55 pm
May our good LORD keep and strengthen your hearts now…and later.
June 9, 2018 at 5:52 pm
I cannot begin to imagine what this has been like for your family. My heart breaks a little with every post, but also gives me some strength through you and your words. Our sympathy and love are with you all.
June 9, 2018 at 6:43 pm
Godspeed dear Alice.
June 9, 2018 at 7:55 pm
Your family has been an inspiration to me. St. Alice, pray for us!
June 9, 2018 at 10:17 pm
We are so sorry for your loss. May God give you the strength you need during this difficult time. ❤
June 10, 2018 at 6:52 am
I am weeping with sadness because she is away from us. I am weeping with joy because Jesus’ prayer has been answered for another of His little loved ones..” Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am , and to see my glory…” Little eyes crossed no longer but fully opened to behold what our eyes have not yet seen nor our ears heard! May that joy, her joy, His joy, heavens joy continue to be a healing balm in this earthly sorrow. You have been in my prayers constantly throughout this journey and will continue to be.
June 10, 2018 at 7:45 am
Love and prayers for you all.
June 10, 2018 at 8:50 am
Our hearts are saddened at this note and our sympathy is great at the “temporary” loss of sweet little Alice! We continue lifting you all up before the Throne of GRACE in the days, weeks and months ahead.
June 10, 2018 at 10:40 am
We have lost a baby and a grandbaby. There are times the pain resurfaces, but we are gently reminded that joy comes in the morning. We will probably never meet in this life, but there is a homecoming where all the saints of every nation will rejoice that the trials of this life were but an insignificant thing as we gaze on the glory of the One Who is Jesus Christ. Prayers for grace be with your family.
June 10, 2018 at 3:02 pm
The gift that was given to Alice was wonderful parents. The picture of Shelly’s drawing is BEAUTIFUL! The two of you can write a wonderful book on death and dying for little children and their parents. GOD’S BLESSINGS TO EACH OF YOU. PRAYING WITH TEARS AND A GRATEFUL HEART THAT GOD IS GOD! The Walkers from Iowa.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
June 10, 2018 at 9:44 pm
I loved Alice. I only knew her from your posts, and yet I adored that little girl of yours.
She was something special.
…wait, no, she IS something special. She is still every not that she was, except now, she is cancer free!!!
Your post, was as touching as anything I have ever read. It is clear that you do know where Alice truly is and who’s hand she is really holding.
I love reading life thru your eyes. You have quite a gift.
Alice was truly loved- what a precious family.
I am heartbroken for your loss.
June 11, 2018 at 6:49 am
Thank you for sharing Alice with us. Amazing what a little girl can teach all of us about life, love, grace and ultimately, God. You are all in my heart and prayers.
June 11, 2018 at 8:01 pm
Our family first started coming to the new wonderful church of Lewis Lake about 9 weeks ago, when we first learned of your dear Alice’s struggle with this horrible disease. My heart has been with her and your family since. I have found myself waiting, probably like many others, for the next entry into common slaves, and hoping for a different outcome but comfort for you all at the same time. And words cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. With tears and love your family will continue to be in our daily prayers!!
June 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm
We are Ben Janofski’s parents, and have been praying for you daily these past months. Your sweet Alice has become a part of us and we will not soon forget her….
June 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm
I have followed your story for a couple of months after it was shared by your cousin, my coworker, Jim. I know grief but I do not know the grief of losing a child. I am in awe of your faith and how you have shared your heartbreak with us. I know life will now be “before and after” and that is hard, but doable. I pray for your children and all that knew Alice – in her blink of an eye on earth.
God Bless from NC
June 13, 2018 at 9:54 pm
I have followed your journey since the first of this year and Alice and your family have been in my heart and prayers. I feel like I know you all, even though we’ve never met and probably never will, this side of Heaven. Your faith through it all has amazed me. Your family has exhibited what true faith in God looks like. Your faith wasn’t in outcomes and results but in God Himself, knowing that He would work all things for your good and His glory, and that all His gifts are good, even though they may not seem so to us at the present. You have truly been an inspiration to us all and testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. My thoughts and prayers continue for your family and I will never forget Alice and the impact that your faithfulness has had on my life. May God bless you all and comfort you with His peace that passes all understanding.
June 14, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Alice is dancing in heaven. Remember that while your skies are clouded in, the blue sky is still above. The clouds will part in time. Your grief will always be with you, but you will be able to carry it into places of joy again. (((((hugs))))) from Iowa.