It was so quiet at 2 a.m. that it took no more than a slight change in her husband’s breathing to awaken Chris. Sensing there was little time left, she got up and put on some of his favorite Christian music. She then picked up her Bible and read from the Word.
“It was a very sweet time for both of us,” Chris said. “Then, at 2:30, he was with Jesus.”
Looking back, Chris says Ed was a “wild boy” in his younger years. By his own account, at 30, he was “divorced, unemployed, and broke.” He was at rock bottom. He had accepted Jesus years before, but he needed to find Him again.
One night, Ed couldn’t sleep. He switched on the radio, turned the dial, and heard a man preaching. Over the next few weeks, he kept listening. Before long, Ed realized he had found Jesus again – through a program on the radio.
About the same time, Ed met Chris, a fellow Seattle native. His was a sordid past from her perspective. He was a blunt, gregarious, divorcee with two kids. She was shy, bookish, and grew up in the church.
“I wondered, did I really want to get into this relationship?” Chris recounted.
But her love surpassed any reservations. They married, had two children together, and grew in their faith.
In retirement, Chris and Ed believed they’d be spending their last years in peace and comfort. Then, during a routine physical, Ed mentioned he was having trouble swallowing. “They did a biopsy and found a tumor the size of a walnut on the base of his tongue,” Chris said.
The diagnosis was ACC (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma), a rare cancer that starts in the salivary glands and grows slowly, progressing along the nerves until it typically ends up in the lungs or the liver.
That night, Ed went out on the deck of their beautiful home and stood beneath a starry sky. That’s when he heard God say he was going to be all right. “Not perfect, but okay,” Ed wrote.
A few weeks later, surgeons removed half of Ed’s tongue and a third of the tongue base. The following January, radiation treatments began. As the radiation oncologist explained the cancer journey that was to come, he told Ed, “You’re not going to be perfect, but you’re going to be okay.” They heard it as a confirmation. Ed really had heard the Lord.
After a rough several weeks, a blessed period of remission followed. Ed and Chris went camping and fishing, traveled throughout the U.S. and into Mexico.
Then in 2009, Chris began tuning in to Christian radio programs, just like Ed had done so long ago. That’s when she discovered Living on the Edge. Over the years, Ed had grown skeptical of modern radio preachers who always seemed too perfect, never a problem in the world. Chris told him Chip Ingram was different. They listened to the Living on the Edge program together one night.
“Chip talked about how, when he first became a Christian, he would go to Bible study on Thursday and still hit the bars on Friday. That’s so honest. He was real,” Chris said. “Ed liked that.”
That began a tradition. For years, Chris and Ed would spend their nights listening to Chip on the Living on the Edge podcast, inviting the Word to cover them before falling asleep.
The messages were both comforting and challenging. True Spirituality, the series on Romans 12, raised difficult questions. Why, Chris wondered, was it God’s “good, pleasing and perfect will” for Ed to have cancer? What more pain might come?
Then, in 2014, Ed’s oncologist discovered a tumor growing on his larynx. It would have to be removed. Ed’s voice was gone.
“I went into a depression,” Chris said. “I was thinking, ‘His voice is who he is. He’s such a people person.’ It made for long, quiet days, but I tried to keep positive for him.”
In the fall of 2016, another tumor appeared on Ed’s lung. It was abutting a blood vessel near his heart, and there was no treatment for it. Ed entered hospice. After a big family celebration for Ed’s 76th birthday, he began to deteriorate. He was bedridden for weeks. His younger brother, George, stayed with them, and he and Chris’ adult children came often to visit, to join with their mother in her vigil.
With Chris by his side, Ed passed away in the early hours of Good Friday, 2017.
In July, as Chris searched for words of comfort in the Word, God chose to speak to her first through an article on grief. It asked: If you had faith strong enough to bring the dead back to life, would you want that?
“Would I want Ed to go through that again? Now that he has witnessed Heaven?” she asked herself.
Then came an answer, a source of comfort Chris found in 1 Peter 1:6-9. After 44 years of marriage, in the midst of feeling “more lonesome than I could have imagined,” God gave her a new perspective.
She was reminded that it’s about more than what she has lost; it’s about what Ed has gained.
“We have to keep our eyes focused on that final reward, eternity with Christ,” Chris said. “God has promised to be faithful. We may not feel it, may not sense it at times, but He is there.”
Grief is indeed a process, and Chris is journeying through it, in part, with the help of Living on the Edge. She has continued the family tradition of listening to Chip’s messages at night, allowing the Word of God to bring joy, even in the midst of mourning. But this is not the end of Chris and Ed’s story. God is opening doors for Chris to minister through their story. “It’s my deepest desire to help those who might be struggling with their faith through their trial.” So, for now, “retirement” will have to wait as the wife of the once “wild boy” embarks on the wild adventure of sharing their story for God’s glory.
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