441. Memories One Can Never Forget. “Your wife has just passed away.”

As I write this today I recall just 3 years ago yesterday [on the last Thursday of the month 31 October 2019] I was about to leave my beloved wife Carole in the Palliative Care ward in a neighbouring town. She always wanted me to drive home before it got dark and I was fulfilling her wishes. But it had been a very sad day. Carole had been lying there all day and no communication had been possible with her for all the hours I spent at her bedside that day. 

As I rose to leave, I thought I would whisper in her ear that I loved her very much and would be back early the next day. As I did so I went on to add words like, “Carole, if you want to go home to the Lord and to your Mum and Dad, I will be alright. Thank you for having loved me for these wonderful 53 years together. I love you! See you in the morning.”

As I walked out of the room, I turned to look at my beloved again with the hope that I would see a miracle, such as her awaking and perhaps saying, “The Lord has healed me.” [That had been my prayer that the Lord would surprise all the medical experts who had told me some days before that Carole could not live longer than a few days.] But she didn’t awaken and so I committed her body, mind and spirit to the Lord so that His will would be accomplished in her life. I drove home thanking the Lord that He had heard my prayer and would answer it in His way and in His time. 

Fortunately for me two of our 3 children were at my home. Just two hours later the staff at the Palliative Care ward rang to say that they had prepared Carole for the night but when they returned a few minutes later they found that she had passed away. How does one cope when one hears the worst news that one could possibly hear? I found myself ringing, texting and emailing all my family and friends who had loved her so much and writing a tribute to her expressing all she had meant to me and to every person she had ever been in contact with. 

I had always counselled those who were bereaved to ask the Lord to enable them to cope in the best way possible for them and to remember that every person is different. There is no one pattern for coping. In the days before Carole’s thanksgiving service I had asked folk here in Australia and in America to send me any memories they had of Carole so that we could read some of them out in the service. As the replies came in, I was quite moved by the depth of appreciation and love that so many people had for Carole. Their words blessed me enormously and continue to bless me as I recall some of them from time to time.

Now 3 years later, how am I coping? It took me a while to get back into the swing of things. Attending church was not easy, for Carole and I would sit together during the service, a privilege that had not been ours during the 38 years when I was leading services out front. Suddenly it was just me sitting alone. I had read about many bereaved folk saying that they felt the presence of their departed loved ones in the home each day. But what I felt was Carole’s absence. Yet I have a firm picture in my mind of Carole being with Jesus from the moment she drew her last breath. “Absent from the body. Present with the Lord” were the words I had engraved on her plaque on her resting place at the Cemetery. That is my firm conviction, and my certain hope is that I will join her on that day when the Lord says, “Time to come home, Jim.”

Carole had always encouraged me in ministry even when she first came into the Youth Group I was leading and right throughout my ministry. So I felt led to continue writing blog articles knowing that is what she wanted me to do and believing that was what the Lord wanted me to do as well. One of the joys I have each day is switching on my computer and seeing a photo of Carole taken by a photographer just before she was driven to church for our wedding. Carole didn’t like having her photo taken at any time but this is a beautiful photo of a beautiful girl about to give herself in marriage to the most blessed man in the world -me! The photo always gives me a deep stab of sadness before I go on to praise the Lord for bringing Carole into my life and blessing our marriage for 53 wonderful years. That has led to the joy of having three children, four grandchildren and three step grandchildren. My sadness turns into praise and thanksgiving to God for the gifts of His grace in the people He brought into my life, especially my beloved Carole.

Yes, I am coping, but life is different. I feel that much of my life died when Carole passed away. I no longer have the love of my life to have and to hold and to tell her how much I love her. I have lost my very best friend ever. No longer do I hear those words, ”I love you so much!” nor feel those loving arms around me. Life is different. Yet in spite of all that I have lost, I am extremely grateful for all the blessings He has poured out on me and on our family over all those years. God is love and He pours His love into human hearts which are open to Him. Romans 5:5 “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

How wonderful it has been to experience the love of God through Carole’s heart and through her lips as she expressed her love for me. I often prayed this prayer as I married couples, “Lord, in Your love deepen their love!” It was certainly like that for me as I experienced God’s love being poured out on me through the deep love Carole poured out on me!

To God be the glory! Great things He has done! [And is continuing to do in His great mercy and love.]

Blog No.441 posted on Friday 28 October 2022

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Coping With Personal Grief, Faithfulness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Mental Health, Mini Reflections, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, Tributes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 441. Memories One Can Never Forget. “Your wife has just passed away.”

  1. Robyn Elliott says:

    Dear Jim, I have tears in my eyes as I read your blog, yet thanksgiving also that the Lord gave me time in healing ministry and at Golden Grove as you both had an important part in my own life. You and Carole were amongst the most stable influences for Jesus, His healing and His love, that I had in my life at that time. I praise God for the fact He gave you 53 very happy years together where Carole was your great rock and support in ministry as it is such a demanding job to do and together you created a safe haven, both at the Cathedral and at Golden Grove, where people could come with their agonies both physical and spiritual and know this was a safe place not only to pray but to be loved and accepted. One thing I know that the Lord will say to both of you and would say to Carole now “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But He doesn’t just call you servant, you know that. He calls you his friend and you were both privileged to be His friend together, throughout your married life. I grieve with you for the loss of your beautiful wife with you on this earth. everyone thinks that their old age is such a happy retirement time with two old folk holding hands as they move closer to that time, moving on to be with the Lord. Rarely is it this way. but although memories cannot replace Carole, you do have such wonderful memories of her. I am sure that you surround yourself with photographs of her at the various stages of life together. And now will tell you what has been happening for me: Peter, who was always so aggressive throughout our years of marriage, is now praying daily and wants to go to the Uniting church where he taught Sunday School when we first began going together. For someone with dementia who has had neurosurgery for a brain tumour, plus a broken vertebrae, plus other numerous hospital stays for various things, he is doing well at home and is loving and easy to look after. Praise God for His mercies. The nurses and doctors think he had that brain tumour for many years, and this certainly explains why his personality changed so much and had me so confused. I have just returned from WA, attending my grandson’s beautiful wedding to the loveliest girl. They already have two children and twice tried for marriage but each time Covid and lockdown and border closures all stopped their plans. This time it was just so blessed and such a privilege to be there with them as great grandmother to Dakota and Kayden. Dakota was born with a tumour on her spine and had surgery at one week old. I went to Christ Church st Laurence each week and prayed for her with Father Daniel. At eight months old she wasn’t smiling and Father Ian Crooks (who used to be at Epping) prayed for this baby to smile and sure enough she DID!!! This was his last prayer at CCSL before leaving to live in Perth and I thought how delightful and how delighted that Jesus would be that the final prayer he prayed there was for a baby to smile.The prayer was answered and she smiled that night. She is the biggest miracle, a strong little person who runs everywhere and is perfectly whole. I gave the children a Bible for their parents’ marriage and now pray that they go to the Anglican BCA church in Newman where they live. I spoke at the wedding, asked to speak as Kieren’s Nana. it was off the cuff as I had no idea I would be asked to speak. So I talked of praying for this young man all throughout his life. Stewart and Nikki sent him to Ellenbrook Christian School and he boarded at Swanleigh which was the Anglican boarding school for all four church schools in that area. He was house captain and sports captain and had a write up as an outstanding student and care and interaction with others. I’m so proud of this young man and it was an honour to speak at his wedding. I looked at the 62 years of our own marriage, hanging in there with prayer and with faith that God would be my strength and stay. When we moved to Sydney in 2002, I began playing flute at the Cathedral Healing Services each Wednesday for roughly eight years until Peter became ill and my own parents needed more care. It was a way of giving back and thanking the Lord for all the years. We now have four great grandchildren…Bronwyn’s second girl Cassie Jane, is an RN she and her husband are Christians and she has Riley aged three already attending the Anglican Girls’ College in Rockhampton (pre-kindy) Lilly, her second is now 14 months old. It is a wonderful thing to see these ongoing generations and to see what wonderful grandparents my own kids have turned into. The other bit of news is that my book has been shortlisted for a National Book Award, to be announced at the Society of Women Writers luncheon on 9th November. It was written from my heart. God be with you today and throughout what the Lord gives you to do. Your blogs are a valuable contribution. Maybe they should be collected and placed into a book. They remind me of the healing notes we used to get from the Cathedral in the early days. How privileged we have been to be a part of this great ministry. You in a big way and me in my own humble way. As far as Order of St Luke goes, I still haven’t rejoined as yet. I contacted Jean and feel I can’t make this move until I have definite OK from the Holy Spirit. I dare not walk into the holy things of God just because it could be coming from my own thoughts. If anyone knows the healing power of Jesus I do! But this isn’t good enough. I need His confirmation. Much blessings and again a huge thank you to you and to Carole’s memory for what part you played in my own life. sincerely Robyn Elliott

    • Jim Holbeck says:

      Thanks Robyn. It seems that the Lord is blessing your latter days more than earlier ones.
      So great to see answers to your prayers over the years. A testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness and to your stickability!
      Blessings, In His love, Jim

  2. jenhatte says:

    Oh Jim, what wonderful words, remembering dear Carole. How blessed you were to have each other, and how wonderful to know you will be together again in the light of His glory. May you continually feel his great love holding you in the chasm of her absence. God bless you. Jenny Hatte

    Jennifer Hatte 2/201 Donnelly Street Armidale NSW 2350


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