An Anniversary



                                        We love, because He first loved us.

—1 John 4:19 (NASB)


This time of year is very difficult for me. Tuesday will be the 5th anniversary of Sally’s death, and these chilly days are a stark reminder. It seems that every few minutes I think of where I was 5 years ago. But I also think of all the things that I’ve learned since then, things for which I am so, so grateful.

I’m thankful for Debby. That she and I met and fell in love. And that she has taken such wonderful care of me. I’ve wondered if that’s not dishonoring Sally, but I realize that I could have never loved Debby as I do had I not loved Sally so. I really believed that they would have been great friends – with me in the “straight man” role. So many times, Debby says things and I have to “do a double-take” to realize that Sally’s not there! They’re so much alike.

I’m thankful to the Lord for taking Sally home when He did. As she always said, the suffering was over and she was, in the blink of an eye standing before Him!

I’m thankful to Him for teaching me, again and again, that I can’t “fix” things. One of the pieces in my book, In a Mirror Dimly, reflects on something that happened that last week:


He’s in Control, Not Me

I’m having a very tough time with me, with my response to Sally’s illness. As we started hospice care I’ve been more frustrated at every turn and I needed to figure out why. A friend suggested that I was angry and that I needed to find a place for a primal scream. But the more I reflected, I’m not angry at all. I’m frustrated. And then it crystallized for me: I’m not in control here, and I don’t like that. As health care professionals we are taught from the beginning and trained to “fix” things. We are tied up in knots when we confront some things we can’t fix. And I can’t fix this!


Yesterday morning I was able to arrange a sitter to be with her for a while so I could do some necessary errands. Driving alone has become treasured “alone” time and I now often use that time to talk with the Lord. As I drove away from home I let my frustrations out to him … I told Him that I was so frustrated because I can’t “do” anything. After I was quiet for a bit He whispered to me – it was a whisper but it was as clear as though He were speaking directly into my ear – “She’s in My hands.” And my feelings of frustration began to ease, because it’s not mine to control … and as you probably know, I don’t do well with things I can’t “control” … but He let me know He’s got this, He’s in control!


It was as though a 2-ton weight were lifted. Her disease isn’t improving and her course is still unchanged, although He can do miracles. But I don’t have to “be in charge!” He has her in His mighty, mighty hands and He knows what His plans are for her. Praise God!!


I still think about this incident, and how that changed me. Alfred Lord Tennyson once famously wrote, “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” Oh, how true.


2 Comments on “An Anniversary”

  1. I know you as Dr. Fleming! You are truly an inspiration! Unfortunately some days I just feel like I’m sinking from losing my only child 13 years ago at the age of 21 from suicide. My son and I were patients of yours many years ago at Family Doctors. I’ve just started reading all of your stories and feel some hope and thank you for that 😊

  2. Thinking of you and praying that your memories of Sally will brighten this difficult day. Take care of you….

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