"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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Category — On Grieving

Two In One

Some days, I wonder what Craig is doing. Is he keeping busy in heaven, coming up with business ideas for our world that the Lord will share with someone else? Does he have a celestial kitchen to whip up creative cuisine the way he did here on earth? Can Craig come and go along Jacob’s ladder, ministering to the broken on another continent, like a Green Beret for God’s kingdom?

Does he see me?

In marriage, the two become one flesh. Craig put off his earthly body, but my flesh is still here, and in a way, he still is here, too. I am sure he’s busy about the Father’s work in some form or fashion I can’t understand. But through the deep imprint on my soul, Craig is also busy through me.

Our shared experience in business informs my pursuit of new ventures to bring hope to the hurting through books and speaking. His playful approach to cooking gives me courage in the kitchen and inspires me to share goodies with family and friends. And when I minister to someone experiencing hardship, I hear his words of wisdom leave my lips. The person I am today reflects the person Craig was to me. He taught me to share love more freely.

These are the things I ponder, as the holidays draw near and Craig’s birthday approaches. The thought of carrying his legacy gives me comfort. I’m no longer running by his side, but I carry the baton for this last leg of the race. Team Thompson for Team Jesus.

I don’t know whether he sees me, but I see Craig in me. The love of Christ connects us still. So I give him a hug in my heart, as we pass another milestone. His words of encouragement echo in my soul, and I look forward to another day to be about our Father’s work.

December 6, 2022   Comments Off on Two In One

A Rescue Mission

Appearances can be deceiving. The photo that popped up today in my Facebook Memories looks like a man on vacation. Happy. Relaxed. Content.

But, we were not on vacation. We were on a rescue mission. The poolside hammock in Campeche, Mexico was a trauma ward gurney. Craig was sick, and we were desperate to get him well.

In the preceding weeks, we had gone to great lengths to extricate ourselves and our business from a lucrative client relationship. We’d hired expensive attorneys to ensure that we weren’t in breach of contract. We willingly turned over our crew and our operations, desperate to pull Craig out of the field as quickly as possible. The work didn’t matter. The money didn’t matter. We needed to save him. Craig wanted to live.

He hadn’t slept more than three hours a night for months, continually ripped from his slumber by horrifying nightmares or debilitating muscle cramps. He likely was malnourished as a result of a limited diet while working six days a week in the north Texas plains, combined with rewired plumbing from a gastric bypass years prior. Only after his death would I learn about the connection between vitamin deficiency and brain function. Take your B12, my friends.

We fled to our favorite city in Mexico with dreams of buying a house and starting fresh. We imagined a slower pace and a home for ministry and fellowship. But Campeche was hot in June, and we hadn’t anticipated the afternoon storms. Our previous visits had been in January and April, when you could spend leisurely days strolling through cobblestone streets in the historic city center. On this trip, we limited our walks to early morning and sought refuge indoors to wait out the stifling humidity and mid-day rains. The excursion was not without its high points, of course. We ate well and visited with friends and created cherished memories. But the elements seemed to conspire against us, and our efforts at relaxation felt forced. We continued to fight an unseen foe as we returned home to Texas.

Still, we kept fighting. We railed against the darkness side-by-side. And we experienced noteworthy victories. I learned to be more patient, to demonstrate grace, and to humbly ask forgiveness the many times that I failed. Craig’s friends rallied around him with encouragement and prayers, often spending hours with him on the phone. Craig even slept through the night once or twice.

We also discovered that his physical and mental exhaustion had deep roots. Memories of childhood trauma emerged from the recesses of his mind. The lucrative-yet-taxing client project had filled our coffers, but also pried open a Pandora’s Box of pain that needed to be addressed. Craig’s counselor was compassionate, our pastor supportive, his doctor pragmatic. The consensus was for him to start on antidepressants, at least for a short season. I hated the idea but wanted to honor Craig’s decision. He hated the idea but was desperate for relief.

Four days after starting the prescription, he was gone.

Craig had been on the same medication before, years earlier. But he was 40 pounds heavier then, and his body chemistry was different. He wasn’t malnourished, sleep deprived, or starved for serotonin. And, although we were aware of the potential side effects, reading the prescribing information from the FDA months after his passing was a kick in the gut:

“Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment.”

The next page states in bold letters:

“All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases.”

Monitoring. Close observance. I can so easily question whether I did enough. Whether I should have canceled my lunch plans the day he passed. Whether I missed any warning signs.

But, it was a good day. Craig took an hour-long power walk in the morning, because he knew exercise could increase serotonin in the brain. (You don’t exercise when you’re planning to die.) He finished writing an essay about sonship and emailed it to a new mentor in the faith. He journaled that morning about feeling encouraged after a phone call with a friend who had a potential job lead. And the day before, Craig had scheduled three more appointments with his counselor.

The man in the hammock wanted to live. He loved life. He loved people. Seeing the photo in my social media feed left me momentarily crippled, sobbing at the kitchen table. But, then, I decided to write. Love demands action. People need hope.

Sometimes, the chemotherapy doesn’t cure the cancer. Sometimes it does. Everyone struggles with depression at one time or another, or knows someone who has battled those demons. The ultimate cure is love. If you are struggling today, know that you are worth fighting for. Know that we are in this fight together. Craig was a valiant warrior and mighty man of God. He never gave up the fight, and neither will I. Neither should you. Take to heart today his words of exhortation:

“Rise up. Do not quit before the miracle happens.”

© 2020 Leslie J. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

PSALM 27:13-14 (ESV)

June 13, 2020   1 Comment