The Gift I Never Asked For…

As I wrap up the final page of this decade, I reflect on the most beautiful gift I received. Over the past year, my uncle had a hard battle with cancer. During this time and suffering, he let me in, sharing his most beautiful and intimate thoughts on God’s love for all of us. He let me and anyone else he could know he was not angry at God for this, and he trusts it’s all for good.

Over the past week, my uncle let me be part of his last few days, bringing words of comfort and peace as I thanked him for all he had done for me and others over the years.

Being with him, my aunt, and his boys during his final days was a gift I certainly did not ask for, nor did I initially want.

But every day something new and beautiful was revealed. I never expected to see so much goodness or feel so much love and peace in the midst of sadness and pain.

Thank you, Uncle Mike, for giving me the gift of love, laughter, and peace. This is a birthday I will forever cherish

On October 5, 2019, Mike McElderry peacefully left this world, here is the eulogy shared at his funeral.

When reflecting on the life of Mike McElderry there are so many things to say, an adoring husband, a proud father, a caring physician, a talented pianist, an appreciator of art, a passionate football fan, a jokester with an infectious laugh, a man who loved to indulge in the pleasures of life, a fashion icon (take that as you wish), a Mardi Gras momboer (as long as he didn’t have to leave his house), a compassionate soul who was sometimes short-tempered, and most of all a joyful and loyal mentor and a friend.

But these are all things you already know, for there’s no denying he was all of this and more.

I look forward to listening to your stories & hearing his laugh with you for many years to come. But for today, I want to tell you about, Mike McElderry, the guardian angel each of us had the honor of knowing and loving for a moment in time.

You see, thinking of him this way is the only way I can understand why he was taken so soon. If you are struggling like I did in wondering “why did this happen”, I hope these words will help bring peace, as you understand what he knew, he was never really ours to keep in the first place.

For as long as I can remember, Uncle Mike had been a part of our family and a part of my life.

As a little girl, my mom used the story of how Aunt Adele and Uncle Mike met to remind me that God will always take care of us and to stay faithful and strong in the little things in life.

Growing up, through my teen and young adult years, I would fall back on their story as proof of God’s love and grace. I had always kept those thoughts private, never sharing with anyone. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from this past year, is I don’t want to regret leaving words unsaid.

Last week I shared that story with Uncle Mike & before I could cry about “why! Or how unfair this was”, he looked me in the eye and said with all his strength, “God will always take care of us, never forget that. God is good.”

And at that moment, I was reminded, he was never ours to begin with.

I believe he was sent as our guardian angel, to love and care, not only for Aunt Adele but for all of us.

What we didn’t know is that every time he opened his heart, shared his goofy smile, used his healing hands, and spread his wings (or opened his checkbook) to help one of us, he was getting one step closer to fulfilling his purpose on earth. And his boys, Mitch, Brandon, and Robbie, along with their future children, will continue to be his gift to this world.

Over the past year, while I struggled to wonder why this was happening and prayed, asking for a miracle, I witnessed the most beautiful miracle of life, love, healing, hope, and faith unfold.

It was not the miracle I prayed for.

It was not the miracle I expected.

It was not the miracle I wanted.

But Uncle Mike wanted me to tell you that life is the miracle from God.

As 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” While the greatest may be love, we can’t underestimate the power of hope. When in our deepest depths of despair, it’s hope that keeps us going, especially when it’s hard to get out of bed.

He wanted us always to remember this.

Aunt Adele, Mitch, Brandon, Robbie, and Ann, this past year, was his gift to you. The gift no one wanted to open, but if it had to be opened, at least you could do it together. As hard, painful, and uncomfortable it was, it was the gift he knew he had to give. Over the past year, I witnessed him share his most intimate thoughts on his faith and trust in God’s goodness and grace. In his final days, I watched as he received the gift of hearing your laughter, feeling your love, and witnessing your faith. Sadness was transformed into peace and understanding.

While we needed his heart and laughter, he needed us to know he is peacefully home, having coffee, eating cake, and watching those saints go marching in! xoxo

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