“In October of 1975 I met Jesus Christ while listening to a Billy Graham Crusade on TV. I do not remember his message, I just remember hearing the words to that old familiar hymn “Just as I am” and thinking “you have got to be kidding, you love me just as I am, I am such a mess”? No one ever loved me that way, it was always conditional, I got love by trying to please, but that love was no comparison to the love I received from Jesus Christ that day. In an instant I was a new creation, born again by the precious blood shed for me by our Savior on the Cross.
Dennis and I had been married for about a year and a half, and now had a new baby boy, Ryan. I had two older children Tim, 6 and Kelley 4 from my previous marriage but for Dennis this was his first marriage, and first child. Dennis came from a very volatile family with much verbal and physical abuse. He carried a rage inside that would scare anyone when it was unleashed, of course he couldn’t see it back then. He always thought he was so much calmer than the wrath of his dad. Two months after I received Christ as my Savior Dennis saw the change in me and wanted what I had, which was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He prayed and received Christ, we were baptized together in January 1976 thus beginning our journey together as new Christians.
What a different life, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, but as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, we soon began to realize walking with the Lord was not for the faint-hearted, it was and still is a daily dying to self and choice to pick up our Cross and follow Him. How faithful our God is, and how patient to see us through the many trials we were to face through the years. He had to do a lot of major surgery so to speak, putting us continually back on the Potter’s wheel. What a glorious gift to be given new life by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to be personally molded by Him. I am eternally grateful for every trial because through it all we learned to trust in Jesus and we would need that strong faith in the years to come.
During one of my many trips to the most wonderful retreat center, Pinecrest in Stoney Brook Long Island, with a group of women from our little church, First Christian Assembly, Plainfield, NJ, (this is where we met Bill and Lucy forming a friendship that spans over 35 years) a word came during a meeting and the Lord said “Whisper in my ear and I will give you the desire of your heart.” It almost knocked me off my feet it was so powerful. I knew that I had better be very careful what I asked for because as surely as I asked, it would be mine. I asked the Lord for Dennis to be restored to his rightful place in our home and that our children would love him. You would have to have been a fly on the wall during the raising of our children to understand what a miracle the fulfillment of this word would be. There was major healing that would have to take place in our family.
In May of 2008 Dennis was rear-ended at a traffic light. He experienced a lot of pain in his back and began physical therapy, after several treatments he started having pain in his stomach. The therapist said it was probably just from the back but it got worse so we went to see his primary doctor to have it checked. He had his technician Christine do an Ultrasound (she ended up not only being a believer but also attending our church) Dennis always found a way to talk about the Lord. His doctor didn’t like what he saw. He sent us to a specialist who ended up also being a believer. Dennis was a man who shared his faith wherever he went so of course he found out the doctor was a believer too.
After he examined Dennis and reviewed the Ultrasound, he invited us into his office for prayer (isn’t God amazing?) His opinion was that Dennis either had Lymphoma or Pancreatic Cancer so without doing any further tests he sent us to a surgeon, Dr. Levi at the Sylvester Cancer Clinic in Miami who was synonymous with Pancreatic Cancer. He even called and made the appointment himself. Dr. Levi took one look at Dennis’ scans and immediately diagnosed him with a very rare form of Pancreatic Cancer called Neuroendrocrine Carcinoma. He said Dennis would need to have a “Whipple” operation right away and scheduled him for this major surgery on June 2, 2008, only a week after the diagnosis.
We found out later that many people do not survive this operation or have good results if they did survive. It ended up being a 10 ½ hour surgery where removed two tumors in the pancreas and rearranged just about everything inside as well as removing several other organs and 1/3 of his stomach. My oldest son Tim and I waited and waited, we had originally been told the surgery would take 6 hours. The doctor told us later they almost aborted the surgery several times because it was so complicated trying to get through all of the many blood vessels. God was surely on our side. Den spent several days in ICU and then was brought to a room where I slept on a cot next to him for the next 11 days. The strength my husband showed was amazing, he did everything the doctor and nurses told him to and began his regiment of walking around and around the whole surgical floor. As we walked we sang, choruses of Praise to our Lord, Scripture songs of Thanksgiving. We met so many people that we were able to minister to and pray for. The Lord turned our mourning into dancing for sure and as I look back one of the highlights of our journey together.
The next seven years of our life became the best years. When you are faced with a life threatening illness, and you don’t know if you will have each other another day, your world changes very quickly and the silly things you bickered about don’t seem very important anymore. During this time my mom, 87 and dad 91 came to visit and ended up living with us do to their poor health conditions. My mom had a serious heart condition and dad dementia that was getting worse, as well as he was losing his sight. At one point I was giving him 8 different eye drops, morning and night 10 minutes apart. The grace of God was upon me to be a caretaker to everyone, but I sure did get tired. I could never have done all of that without God’s amazing grace. Mom and dad could not be left alone so whenever we had to go to Miami for tests and oncologist appointments, we would have to find someone to stay with them.
Dennis gave up a lot when he lovingly agreed to have my parents move in with us, considering his own health issues and the restrictions it placed on us. He remained cancer free for the first 2 years following his surgery, and by the way was back to work only 8 weeks after that major operation, not missing a day for the next 6 ½ years, except to go to scheduled appointments. Can you see the character the Lord was working in us through what originally seemed like such a tragedy? He never complained. Our doctor appointments became our dates together, we enjoyed stopping for a meal after and even when he was hospitalized last December 2014 we were given a beautiful room on the 8th floor, last room overlooking Miami, date night I told him as we held hands and enjoyed the scenic panorama. God gave us a strength through these times that was supernatural.
In September 2010 we got the news that the cancer had spread to a lymph node in the Pancreas in an area that was inoperable (they had removed 18 nodes during the surgery). Dennis went through many treatments and drug combinations, Gamma Knife, Nanoknife, Microwave Ablation, Radiation, Chemotherapy over the course of 7 years.
Throughout this entire illness, treatments, setbacks we believed God would miraculously heal him, he lived the Word, was constantly reading and studying, right to the very end we continued to believe he would be healed. But God’s ways are not our ways, healing came but not as we were expecting. I watched the heart of my husband transformed before my very eyes, when the Lord took him home he was the most tender-hearted, compassionate man you would ever want to meet. Our children observed the changes in him as well, seeing God work through the years. They grew to love him in a way only our Lord could accomplish.
Dennis was also able to see how his anger and harsh words had hurt them, the Lord worked such a miracle of healing that he was able to humble himself and go to each of them with true repentance, own his behavior when they were young, and ask for forgiveness. There is power in humility and forgiveness. Healing comes in many forms, our Lord is truly a “Miracle Working God”. The day Dennis had to leave work at the prison, March 5, 2015 grown men were sobbing, he had poured himself out as a drink offering wherever he went, sharing Christ at the workplace with co-workers and detainees from all over the world. Other than the obvious weight loss, most of his co-workers had no idea how sick he was. The greatest compliment he received was summed up by a co-worker Dennis loved, he said, “Dennis, he was the real deal”.
I am sad for my loss but I know my honey is at home with Jesus, worshiping before the throne for all Eternity with no more pain, no more sorrow, joy unspeakable and full of the Lord’s Glory. All Praise and Honor be unto the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for bringing us together, for saving us and for never letting us go. I have the hope that when the Lord calls me home I will see him again.
Dear ones, thank you for letting me share our journey and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the prayers said on our behalf. I could feel them carrying us through and still carrying me as I now continue the journey with the Lord as my husband.
JESUS is Lord.”
Bonnie’s thoughts after Dennis departed
July 18, 2015
“My beloved husband went home to be with the Lord yesterday about 2:50 p.m. I am happy that he is now in the loving arms of Jesus, no more pain or suffering, but the pain of loss is beyond measure. I will write more, my testimony to share with the believers who faithfully stood with us through his journey.”
“…it has been such a comfort to us to receive all of the love and encouragement [from the brethren who wrote me]. Can’t begin to tell you what it has meant to us. I was reading all of the wonderful things everyone was sharing about Dennis, I almost called him to come see and then reality set in and I realized he was gone. Very hard, but he was in such pain I would be selfish to want to bring him back from paradise where he has no more suffering or pain.”
“We wonder what the Lord has Dennis doing in Heaven, brings a smile to my face. It is very hard, I am doing well and then all of a sudden I break out in tears. I am sure this is normal after 41 years together. The Lord is good, all the time, no matter what is how Dennis always expressed it, so I am trying my best to live with that in mind. I can almost hear him whispering it over my shoulder.
Yesterday was my birthday, first birthday without him, family surrounding me with love, and so many expressions of love from friends and church family. He so wanted to live, believed for healing right up to the end but our Lord needed him more. I am so grateful to have loved and been loved, had the blessing of his covering over me for 41 years, now our Lord has taken on that role of husband to the husband-less.”
“Dennis is in Glory enjoying the presence of our Lord, I am grateful he is not suffering anymore. I miss him more than words can express.”
“I started writing a Poem for Dennis the day he went home to be with the Lord but didn’t finish it. When cleaning out my desk today I found my scribblings and I was able to complete it. I thought you might like to read it. I miss him so much, but am so grateful for the 41 wonderful years the Lord blessed us with. I know I will see him again, which is a great comfort.”
My Love, My Life
I asked my Lord to carry you, up, up to Heaven’s gates
And escort you from this life of pain to where He lives and waits
We prayed and prayed to keep you, cause the pain of loss too great
But the Father’s plan was different, and the sickness a big weight
Your heavy burden lifted, your flying, flying free,
At last in the arms of Jesus, waiting there for me.
In Memory of My Amazing Husband Dennis
Bonnie Deering in Florida
July 17, 2015
“It is a difficult transition from being one with a mate for 41 years to being a single. I put a little decal over my desk in my bedroom with a verse from Song of Songs, ”I have found the one whom my soul loves”, it reminds me that Jesus is my husband now. Every day I look at that verse and thank God He has not left me to fend for myself but is my husband, how marvelous is that. I have asked our Lord to teach me more about death so that I can understand this awful aching in my heart and longing for my mate. It does not quickly leave us. We did everything together, even going to the store, or picking up prescriptions, so very lonely, and yet I know the Lord tells me I am never alone, He will never leave me or forsake me.”
December 26, 2015
“I have been trying to keep busy, had Tim, Pam and girls over for dinner after our Christmas Eve Service, good to be together but so hard without Dennis this year. I kept wondering what it must be like to actually be with the Savior, not just celebrating His coming to earth as a baby and then becoming the Savior of the world who died on Calvary, but now RISEN sitting on the Throne, high and exalted….my sweetheart worshiping before His throne, in His presence forever. I miss him beyond words, but what a glorious thought, here on earth we have just a glimpse, but in Heaven Dennis is with Him.”