This past spring, after thirty-one years of devoted service to the university as senior office assistant in the Wyoming Union, Carolyn, my wife, was going to finally celebrate her retirement. She had managed to support at least four different directors during those years and provided guidance, solutions and direction to thousands of students and hundreds of staff. She and I were going to begin our “autumn years”, maybe do some travelling and rediscover ourselves.
During those many years she had supported me as I managed a tenure track career in the theatre arts. Early on, in 1992, her parents, George and Olga Moen, moved into an apartment in our home. Olga died this past year at the amazing age of 101 years. Also, in 1997, Carolyn’s older sister Marilyn, who suffers from lifelong disabilities, cerebral palsy, grand mal seizures and has spent most of her 76 years in a wheelchair, moved to Laramie to be closer to us, taking up residence in Laramie Care Center.
Through these years Carolyn soldiered on, putting up with a cantankerous and often absent husband, organizing and facilitating her parents’ lives in our midst, and provided as much of a home experience for Marilyn as she could. She had quadruple duty, if not more, over the span of her career and home life in Laramie. She had done God’s work and done it selflessly! Then, one day, as May and the big celebration approached, she got a call from the doctor. Her most recent mammogram was not normal. She would need to have a more in-depth procedure and biopsy. Tissue samples were taken, analyzed. She had breast cancer! Our new beginning was to be delayed, but for how long? Our story, one not particularly unique, is shared by many others. There have been, and there are, no easy answers. It was hard to understand why this had happened to her, us. It is only human to ask “Why me, God?”
Carolyn didn’t succumb to resentment or rancor, though there were days when both of us had trouble coping with the extreme reality of cancer. But God has been with us. God has provided Carolyn with new friends, many of whom have been through greater ordeals than her own, though perhaps not as coincidental. Women have called whom she didn’t know, but who had learned of her situation through a mutual friend, to provide comfort and resources. The long-promised peace and understanding we so much needed was being provided. Carolyn’s story continues. As our intern Jennifer Michael taught us in Sunday’s sermon, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to the unknown, knowing that answers that may not come. Our hearts will continue to trust the amazing grace of God’s peace and comfort. We are blessed!
“O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadow lengthens and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last”. —Cardinal John Newman
Larry W Hazlett, B.M, M.A. Music History, is the Dist. Prof. Emeritus of Theatre & Dance (retired) at the University of Wyoming. He lives in Laramie, Wyoming with his lovely wife Carolyn and serves as Choir Director at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran.