When The Sunset Comes   6 comments

A little less than a year ago the doctors found a growth on my wife Shirlee’s left lung. After some tests it was determined to be cancer and she had directed radiation to remove it. The treatment was successful and late last year cat scans showed that it was no longer there. However, she was not feeling good and early this year she had an x-ray that showed there were new nodules in the same left lung. About three weeks ago she had a cat scan which showed that not only did they appear to be growing, but now had spread to the right lung also. After having a blood test to be sure they were not the result of a fungal infection, it was determined that her cancer was back.

The only treatment that can be considered it chemotherapy and with her severe COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) it is really not an option as she probably wouldn’t survive it. Her doctors have both suggested that we look into hospice care.

Last Sunday I told our church family what was going on in our lives. I asked them for prayer, not so much for healing (yes, God can heal), but more for strength, energy and peace for not only her, but for the family. And I ask the same of you.

Shirlee and I grew up together in a small Michigan town starting almost 75 years ago. We attended the same small church and in 3rd grade I announced to anyone that would listen, “My girl friends name is Shirlee Arlene Clum!” At the end of 5th grade her family moved to Grand Rapids, but I would still see her when her folks would come back to visit in the summer. We had one date in our senior year of high school, then for 45 years we lost contact with each other. But she was always on my mind.

On June 15, 2001 we reconnected thru classmates.com and fell in love. She was living in Michigan and was unmarried and I was living in Florida and was also unmarried. In October of that year she came to visit and we were married February 1, 2003. After retirement, later that year, I left Florida and became a resident of Michigan again.

It’s now been over 10 years since we both said our “I dos” and other than the time she has spent in the hospital we have not had a day apart. She is such an important part of my life and because of her belief in me I started singing in church again, took on the choir leadership, started walking in the woods with my camera, and writing my memoir, “Granddad and the Kid.” I really don’t think I could have or would have done these things without her beside me. How do I continue to function when she is no longer there beside me?

I know life goes on. I know that when the time comes I will be strong because that is what she wants. Before the events of the past year or so, talking about death was something I had a problem with, a conversation to be avoided. It was not that I was afraid of death, both Shirlee and I have trusted in Jesus as our Savior and know where we will spend eternity, but thinking about life without the one I loved was not a pleasant thought. Now, through her strength, it is something to be discussed. Where do we go from here? How does she want things handled when her time comes? What family memorabilia will go to which family member? All these kind of things are now out on the table. Our lives have changed.

I have probably rambled in this post. These are the hardest words I’ve ever typed. Everything is happening way too soon. We haven’t had enough time together. There are so many things I want to share with her, places to go…but we are running out of time. We’ve had the dawn, the noonday, the afternoon and the evening. We are now in the sunset. And I stop and remember…sunsets can be beautiful…even the stormy ones.


Posted May 18, 2013 by hwilliam in Photography

6 responses to “When The Sunset Comes

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  1. Thanks for posting this Bill. I’m sure it was difficult to write this but you have done a very good job putting your experience into writing. God be with you both. Yours in His Service, Arnold

  2. You and Shirlee are in our prayers. Paul and I value both of your friendships. It has been a joy and honor to be part of both of your lives. We love you both!! Paul and Grace Lynn

    Grace and Paul Lynn
  3. I know how hard this was to write… to put out there… to make us understand what you are losing. I pray for peace for both you and strength when you need it – but remember we are all here you can’t be strong. I love you Dad.

  4. Bill and Shirley, so sorry to hear this report from about Shirley’s health. There is a bible scripture that says, “whose report are we going to believe, we will believe the Lord’s report. I know that you are both reeling from this news, but know that there are those of us holding you up in prayer. Hang in there, God has a plan. Jackie Carter Ames ~ class of ’56 C.H.S.

    Jackie Carter Ames
  5. Thinking of you both during this sunset time, i will share my prayers between your wife, you, your families and my mum, who also has cancer, i hope this will be a beautiful sunset and that it lingers without pain. God be with you all.

  6. Bill &Shirlee, We are so sorry to hear of your difficult time. Facing it with Jesus will make it more tolerable, for sure. Nonetheless, it must be very difficult. Thanks to both of you for the being so open. Your faith is an inspiration. I remember a good friend in Charlotte who had Cancer, and was facing death. He was a fine Christian man and said this to me: ” I would rather stay here awhile longer, but if God calls me or not, I win either way.” I have never forgotten that, and maybe it will help you both as it helped me. God bless you both.

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