Mary Ann Roberts

Mary Ann Roberts

I lost my husband to brain cancer. I would like to tell you how my God, my Lord, and my Savior enabled me to survive this.

If I were asked to describe my life in 1999, I would have to say it was perfect. I had just retired from school teaching. Both of our boys were in college and doing well. My husband, Larry Joe, and I were enjoying our life together. We were active in our church. We traveled, and we enjoyed our home and each other. It was a golden time for us. In December of 99, Larry Joe developed a headache which later was found to be the result of a brain tumor. He was diagnosed in a Lexington hospital room January 1st, 2000. In one month, our world fell apart. Everything changed with one word: Cancer. I will never forget the doctor that came in that morning asking if he could pray with us. God immediately put people around our family that would hold us up in prayer.

Larry Joe had his surgery soon after. The tumor was removed, but the prognosis was grim. However, we were determined that he would be healed. There had never been anything that he and I had not been able to overcome or work out. Together, with God’s help, we had built a home, raised a family, took care of aging and sick parents, and Larry Joe had successfully graduated from law school. We had developed a pattern of setting and achieving goals. We prayed for guidance from God, and He had proved to be faithful and true. We knew we were blessed.

Now we were facing this! We had overcome so many of life’s challenges together. We, who had loved and laughed our way through 25 years of marriage, with its ups and downs, found ourselves in a ferocious fight. We fought. That was our nature–to pick up the fight, to go on, to persevere. We prayed for a healing. Our friends, family, church, and people from across this country prayed for Larry Joe to be healed. Though we were in a desperate time, we never felt alone. God’s presence was ever apparent and filled us with strength. There were so many concerns and situations that were beyond our control. We learned to turn them over to God. That is when I truly learned to trust God. I saw him move obstacles that I could not.

God placed so many wonderful people around us. They were supportive in every way with their kindness, concern and
generosity. Through this, we saw the reflection of the wonderful faithfulness of God.

After Larry Joe’s surgery, he never had another extended stay in a hospital. We cared for him at home. Friends came to visit and left feeling better because of the peace God had given Larry Joe. They talked, laughed and reminisced. Those were truly blessed visits. But as the year progressed, so did the illness. God had put a nature in us to fight and pray. This is what we did. We could feel God’s presence so close to us. It was Larry Joe, the Lord, and me. He was in this with us.

I’m not going to tell you this was easy. To see Larry Joe’s 92 year old mother, who had served God faithfully since she was 10, bow her gray head, lay her hands humbly on Larry Joe and pray, “Now Lord, you got to heal my baby” was excruciating. But we pressed on.

I remember one weekend a few weeks before Larry Joe died, our boys were coming home. I was cooking chicken and dumplings for them. I stood at the stove putting the dumplings in the pot, watching the broth bubble. Then I felt a great happiness and joy spread through me. It was wonderful. Then I heard God speak in my spirit, “Now you know how I feel when one of my children comes home.” Then I knew in my spirit that the Lord’s plan for Larry Joe may be different than mine. My flesh rejected this. It was too terrifying. Yet my spirit was comforted in knowing that no matter what, Larry Joe was saved, loved, and protected.

Larry Joe died November 25, 2000. It was 5 days before his 49th birthday. He died at home surrounded by people who loved
and adored him. He went home to be with his God who loved and adored him more. I’m not going to tell you that these last few years have been easy. I did not know a person’s skin could hurt. Grief is a powerful and devastating emotion. Grief caused me to become even more dependent on the Lord. I would wake and pray, “Lord, help me lift my hand off the bed this morning. Help me put my feet on the floor.”

But that was then and this is now. Through God’s mercy and with time, that constant painful ache subsided little by little. Every day, every month, and every year, I grow stronger. What I have learned is to rest in God’s peace that passes all understanding, and that peace that will guard your heart and your mind. I have seen how God has provided more than I knew to hope or dream of for myself and my boys. I’ve seen the Lord be the father to my children that he promised he would be. I love him with all my heart.

If you are reading this and you do not know a love like this, please take a moment to consider God’s love. He loves you as much as he loves me, as much as Larry Joe, and as much as he loves my children. He is able to take your broken heart and fill it with joy and gladness. To this I can testify. God bless you.