I Need to Say Something, But the Words Just Don’t Seem to be Enough . . .

Words really escape me as to what to write, and words can’t really capture it anyway.  Further, I am still deep in grief and sorrow, which clouds everything to an extent.  But, I needed to and wanted to post something here in case some people haven’t heard, and I also wanted to make an initial attempt at saying thank you to all of those who have loved, helped, supported, and prayed for us.

On June 4, 2018, my beloved and dear wife Heather went to be with the Lord.  She had been ill for some time, but it was still very much a shock as we did not expect it to end in death.  It is a long, detailed story, but I will provide enough of a summary to make a sufficient explanation I hope.

Back toward the end of last year, Heather did not have the energy that she normally has.  At that time, we did not think anything of it, and only after her passing did we really begin to piece some of it together.  She thought the lack of energy was just a season and would pass.  That persisted until early February, when she suddenly developed a number of alarming symptoms including a racing heart (sometimes up to 150-160 beats per minute); muscle spasms, jerks, and tremors; feeling like she was having difficulty breathing; feeling like she was having or going to have a seizure; and the inability to sleep due to these symptoms.  We made several trips to the emergency room, and she was even admitted to the hospital overnight at one point.  We also had many, many doctor appointments and more tests, etc. than I can remember. We also tried many different medicines and treatments, but nothing was really helping.  She would have good days and bad days, but the general direction seemed to be worse.

Finally, around the middle of April, she was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).  The doctors had not ordered a round of tick disease tests until then due to the fact that Heather did not have a fever or flu-like symptoms, no spots or rashes, etc., which are the usual signs. Further, she did not specifically remember a tick bite.  However, we do remember, back in the fall of last year, a time when we, as a family, went walking in the woods.  Heather, and a few of the children, were covered in little tiny ticks.  That is the last time we remember a tick on Heather. If that is when she contracted RMSF, then she went approximately six months with her body fighting it but it being undiagnosed and untreated.

Upon the diagnosis, she was immediately started on antibiotics.  They brought some small improvement initially, but, unfortunately, by that point it had damaged her nervous system, which appears to be what was causing her symptoms.  Without giving too much unnecessary details, I discovered her not breathing and without a pulse on Monday morning, June 4, 2018.  I attempted CPR until the paramedics arrived, but she could not be revived.  We are not sure what the exact cause of death is (heart failure, stroke, something else?), and the autopsy may not reveal any more than we know right now.  However, that said, it is certainly accurate enough to say that it was related to/complications from RMSF.

Heather was an amazing woman and the love of my life.  (Honestly, I hardly know how to think about myself apart from her.)  Words fail me as I try to describe her.  She was my best friend, my partner, my wife, the mother of my children—my other half.  I can’t give her the tribute she deserves.  Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Peter 3:1-6.  But, the Lord knows and can and has and will.  She loved her Lord dearly and above all else, and her ultimate desire was to please and obey Him and point others to Him in all things.  As she suffered in her illness, she still held fast to Him.  She would lay for hours on end, feeling miserable and unable to sleep, listening to sermons and praying.  She truly was a faithful, covenant-keeping, child of the King, and I am sure His welcoming of her home was incredible.

Prior to the illness, she was healthy and full of joy, energy, and life.  Heather used to, only partly jokingly, say that we were going to live to be 120 together!  So, as you can imagine, this is a tremendous shock and sorrow to me and the children. In case you want to read a bit more about Heather, you can see the obituary (http://tharpfuneralhome.com/funeralpress/heather-l-chrisman/2596/), or you can see the eulogy Alexis, our second oldest, did at her mother’s funeral (/2018/06/13/lexies-eulogy-for-her-mother/). Lexie did a fantastic job—much better than I am able to do.

Even during this time of great grief and sorrow, we have strongly felt the presence of the Lord and the comfort of His Holy Spirit.  Even in the midst of this, we know and trust that the Lord is good, that He loves us, and that He does all things well.  Job 1:21 and 2:10, Isaiah 53, and John 3:13-17 and 11:1-44. We do not understand, and likely will never in this life completely understand, why this tragedy.  Deuteronomy 29:29 and Isaiah 55:8-9. But, we trust the goodness, grace, mercy, and wisdom of our sovereign Heavenly Father.  Romans 8 and Psalm 23.  We cling to Him, knowing that it is really He Who is holding us.  Isaiah 41:13 and Psalm 37:23-24 and 73:23-28.  We trust His good promises that Heather is now with Him in His presence with every tear and sorrow wiped away.  John 14:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.  She is no longer suffering, and she is awaiting, with anxious anticipation, as we are, the resurrection of the dead, the consummation of the age, and the ultimate triumph of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Psalm 116:15, 2 Samuel 12:23b, Revelation 7:15-17 and 21:1-5.  Praise God in whom we live, move, have our being, and hope!  Acts 17:28, Psalm 33:20-22 and 62:5.  (So many other Scriptures could be cited and have been such a comfort to us.)

The Lord has also ministered to us and continues to minister to us mightily through His people.  The kindness, love, sympathies, and support that have been and continues to be poured out on us by the body of Christ is truly amazing, and we can hardly express how thankful we are.  Friends, family, our current and former churches, Liberty University, former and current students, and so many others have provided prayers, texts and emails, cards, meals, help for me at work, help around the farm and house, financial support (the GoFundMe page that our pastor, Virgil Hurt, set up ( has raised over $20,000 alone — https://www.gofundme.com/heather-chrisman-family), and much other love, support, and assistance. I could never hope to list it all. For all of this, again, we are so thankful and grateful beyond our ability to express.  So, for all of you who have prayed for us and supported us in any way during this time, we say a deep and heartfelt thank you.  May the Lord God repay you for your work, and may you receive a rich reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, for I know that I cannot repay you these kindnesses.  (Paraphrase of Ruth 2:12).