Monday, August 27, 2007

In His Feathers

Confession: I’m one of those people who often skips to the last chapter of a book to see if the ending will be satisfying. I don’t want to invest in a character only to be bummed at the end. However, I found a book whose final chapter I just wanted to skip.

In His Feathers tells the story (mostly in her own words) of Sharon Bomgaars’ last two years as she fought ovarian cancer. Sharon, an avid journal keeper and letter writer, pours out her heart in words which reflect her frustration, fear, anguish, joy, wonder, faith, resolve and, most of all, her authenticity.

With each turn of the page, I found myself liking Sharon more and more. She was an avid birdwatcher and as I read of her delight in finding bluebirds in her bluebird house or seeing an elusive warbler, it made me want to reach through the pages, back through the years and hug her.

I loved the gallows humor she and her husband used to deal with her illness. Once Sharon called her husband while away on a trip with her daughter and upon hearing her voice he asked, “Is this my Angel?” “Nope! I’m not one yet!” was her reply. Sharon would often make funny references to her husband’s “next wife” and justify expenditures because “Boo Boo” would spend it anyway!

I loved the honest acknowledgement of self-centeredness in pursuing trips and plans. She frequently references a Barney Fife-ism that dogs take care of their own but giraffes think only of themselves and Sharon readily admits giraffish tendencies! When tweaked about giraffish actions, she is actually playful in her retort, “But, are you dying?”

Knowing her time was short, her willingness to be adventurous increased. On a California trip to the mountains, Sharon writes of the experience:

[After a ranger had warned of a hike being too dangerous]
“Well, I’m really not too concerned about the risk,” I told her. “I already
have cancer. If something goes wrong, I’ll just go fast and easy instead of slow
and hard.”

My comment was a bit crude, but I truly meant what I said. In
the old days I held so tenaciously to life, gripping it with frightened hands.
That time is past. The days allotted to me are and always have been entirely
beyond my control. None of my care or foresight will stay the hand of God if He
chooses to end them.

There’s a lady who doesn’t just talk about the sovereignty of God, she understands it. This resonated with me so much. I saw my Mom lose a whole lot of fear post-cancer. That disease disabuses a person of any notion of control quite quickly.

Sharon didn’t like the path God chose for her, but she submitted to it. She clung to a good God “who doesn’t make mistakes.” She expresses gratitude for the time she did have on this earth with her family. Over and over again, she compares herself to people who had less time than she was being allowed.

What a lesson! My husband says people always compare up – we always look at those who have more and ignore how many more have less. We don’t see how truly blessed we are.

While my Mom was battling cancer, Tim McGraw’s song, Live Like You Were Dying was getting a lot of play on the radio. It meant a great deal to me then and still does now:

And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'
Like tomorrow was the end
And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it
What should you do with it
What can I do with it
What would
I do with it
Sharon has made me ask those questions. She wanted to suck life dry of experiences, live and end her life in a faith-affirming manner and cling to “...a good God and an Almighty God who has created us and saved us. I’ve moved beyond trying to figure all the rest of it out.”

Sharon Bomgaars was an ordinary Mississippi mom, but she is also an extraordinary someone you should get to know.


RosieBoo said...

I've heard about this book, but wasn't sure if I wanted to read it, but it sounds great. I need to wait a while though. After the recent passing of Juanita Downing, I'm a bit too melancoly. Plus, I just started the Harry Potter series!

Anonymous said...

Sharon was my son-in-law Joel's mother. Joel and my daughter Rachel married 9 months before Sharon passed away. She lived, by her choice, a humble life, but a life filled with passion for her Lord, her family, and God's creation. Sharon left a great legacy, as evidenced by the faith and ethics of her children. Dear Joel is a wonderful, godly husband and community leader, and is devoted to his precious baby daughter, Millie. Sharon's husband, Dennis, did go on to find his "Boo-Boo", another beautiful, godly woman, having met on e-harmony. They meshed their families of adult children & their spouses together beautifully for almost 3 years, but sadly, as Sharon had, Dennis also passed away, from cancer, December 24, 2006, after a six month battle with lung cancer, although he had never once smoked in his life. Neither one got to meet precious Millie... I pray as Millie's grandmommy that I be faithful to help pass on their heritage of faith in our soveriegn Lord.

Joel Bomgaar's mother-in-law and Millie's grandmommy