Over the course of four weeks, members of the community will be sharing their story. These stories are about individuals and their experience with cancer or loss. They are the reason the Lowell community comes together for the Pink Arrow Football Game. Each story is written by the person you will read about or by someone on their behalf unless otherwise noted. We thank them for sharing their story and courage.
Photos courtesy of Heather Eveland and are used with permission. Heather donates her time to get to know those she is photographing and capture an image to be used with each story. You can visit her photography website and Facebook page for more information about her work.
Heather is also the volunteer coordinator for Pink Arrow events. If you are interested in helping out at Fans in the Stands selling t-shirts, Community Day (Friday, Aug. 23) or game day (Friday, Sept. 13) please contact her by calling 616-291-8907 or send an email to [email protected] Heather will let you or your group know what help is needed and determine the best fit.
The following story is about Jennifer Sobie written by her.
I married my husband Dave when I was 17 and he 18. He was a handsome, daring rebel who became my knight in shining armor and my closest friend. And for the 43 years I was blessed to have him as my husband, for me his armor barely tarnished. He held a firm belief in God and Christ as our Savior that showed itself in his whole-hearted compassion for others no matter their station or mistakes. He quietly took time to counsel others and support them both in their times of need and their day to day lives. But he also possessed a fiery and truly competitive fierceness for living, coupled with an uncanny ability to assess a situation; he was always on top of everything. He never slowed down, except in the evening when it was just us two. My core belief was pretty much that he would live forever, and I never spared a thought for life without Dave. But on January 16, 2017, up by his factory in Greenville, Dave suffered massive heart failure and died almost instantly. I remember vividly the moment I learned he was dead: the sudden and shattering, black, suffocating feeling that blotted out everything else.
Dave’s death was emotionally overwhelming for me. I’m a retired neuroscientist with a PhD in behavioral psychology, but I never truly understood mental anguish until Dave died. I had never experienced it; had never faced the horror and desperation of wanting something that could never again be, of needing someone who could never again comfort you. I had never faced life alone, had never dealt with anything painful or scary without him by my side and holding me up.
Dave and I have three married children who together have given us 11 precious grandchildren, and we all live in Lowell and are very close. I relied heavily on them, and they were amazing—particularly considering their own tragic loss. But grief is continuous, taking no breaks, and the kids have lives and jobs and responsibilities. I found a grief support group through our church, and the pastor was pretty great (I couldn’t have navigated those days without our Lord!), but the feeling of being alone, the heavy weight and darkness of the loss, was constant.
To my great fortune I was having lunch with a friend who suggested I attend Gilda’s Club Grief Group. Dave and I and all our family had participated in Pink Arrow since its inception—our granddaughter Quinne Duhr had honored my mother and her cancer journey as a Pink Arrow athlete—but my knowledge of Gilda’s Club was limited to cancer support. I had no idea Gilda’s had a Grief Support Group. They do, and it’s a wonderful, helping place.
Gilda’s Grief Group, beginning with Gilda’s caring staff and the compassionate insight offered by the group facilitator, has provided me a safe place to express my pain, and members’ common shared experiences have grown me supportive friendships. In Gilda’s I found people who understood my despair and grief’s uncontrollable roller coaster of emotions, people who needed no explanations and offered no judgement. In Gilda’s I found people who spoke my feelings, sometimes better than I myself could manage, and people who comforted me.
Even simply being witness to the generous outpouring of support by our community each week in providing meals for Gilda’s has helped lighten my heart. Our community’s continued involvement in the Gilda’s building upkeep and improvements is a wondrous thing. I cannot express how blessed I feel in having been shepherded to Gilda’s, and blessed that my family and I are part of the Lowell community.
Jennifer has also created an album containing family photos through the years. She invites anyone who is interested to view it here.
Wade Publishing, who also creates the Local Saver, will be putting together all of the 2019 Perseverance Stories into one publication which will be mailed out to the community in August. Thanks to the following businesses!
Bernards Ace Hardware
Snow Avenue Greenhouse
Great Lake Paving
Arctic Inc. Heating & Cooling
Main St BBQ
Lowell’s First Look