Written 4 Feb:
On February 3rd, I was sitting next to Lori’s hospital bed at MVH Hospital working on a laptop and listening to a song called Difference Maker by NEEDTOBREATHE. At this time, Lori was still responsive when we asked direct questions. It was common however for her to fade out of a conversation and simply fall asleep. If we asked her about her pain, she described the location and she rated the pain. If she had to go to the bathroom, she was shaky walking there, but she could go on her own strength fairly reliably. Her motor skills were diminished but not yet to an extreme amount. She slept most of the time, and her movements were slow and stiff.
While I listened to the song, I had my back turned about 45 degrees away from the bed, so I wasn’t facing her directly. Near the middle of the song, she sprang up and moved into the seat with me (nearly knocked me off). I thought she was falling out of bed, and I started to move to catch her before I realized that she was intentionally moving fast because she wanted to sit with me. I gladly relinquished half of my seat, and she wrapped her arms around my torso and put her head on my shoulder.
She repeated the words “You’re so strong” over and over. She wasn’t crying but she had that elevated pitch in her voice which happens just short of crying. She had listened to the song and watched me work next to her. She wanted me to know she loved me and was appreciative of me being there to support her. It was exactly how a man likes to be praised. What man doesn’t love to hear his woman tell him how strong he is while resting her head on his shoulder? Honestly, that is all a man wants in life. We men show off for girls starting at a very young age, and we never stop. It’s always on our minds. For crying out loud, when I play church softball, there is a vastly different feeling for me when she’s at the game as compared to when she’s absent. No kidding, I care more and play harder when she’s watching even though she wouldn’t care either way about my actual performance. I remember a pickup basketball game at Ft Bragg (I was over 30 years old) where she walked into the gym mid-play, and I upped my game immediately. She rarely came to the gym when I play basketball, so this was my moment. I’m kinda awesome at basketball, so I blew it up as you can imagine. Those poor high schoolers received an epic old-man beat down that day. It is pitiful how much men want their women to notice them and to acknowledge our strength and ability to take care of them. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. Heck, my boys are already doing it when they are around girls. And they have no filter so you get to see it raw. They’ll literally flex in front of a mirror and ask me if they look bigger after eating their vegetables. So you can understand that when she repeatedly exclaimed “you’re so strong”, she was hitting the sweet spot. I knew she wasn’t talking about my muscles, but I allowed myself to believe it was both in admiration of my emotional support as well as my biceps.
So we sat together in the chair in her hospital room, and she continued to pour out love and praise. The coolest thing about it was that this wasn’t anything new. She always supported me from the very beginning. When we were dating, she started following Cincinnati Reds baseball and UK basketball because I was into it. In pilot training, I struggled for a while early on. I flew a lot with the flight commander for a week or two, and we debriefed after each flight. One day, the squadron sponsored a spouse orientation day where they gave the ladies a tour of the building, simulators, and planes on the flightline. Apparently, she asked question after question after question. My flight commander loved her, and he was raving about how great it was to host her that day. During my debrief of the next day’s flight, my flight commander spent 10 minutes telling me to tap into Lori as a resource to help me improve. He encouraged me to go home and try to answer every question that she had about what I was learning. If I could teach it to Lori, then I would truly know the material. By the end of that year, Lori knew all of the traffic pattern radio position reports, the BOLDFACE emergency procedures, and answers to all of the questions in the master question files. When I met her, she was already passionate about plastic pipe molds and the city’s water sanitation system. Why? Because her dad was once a sanitation engineer and he also designed molds for a Plastics Co. during most of her growing up years. Her brothers got into NASCAR, and she became a huge fan too. I don’t think she cared one bit about the sport. She was just interested in everything that everyone she loved did. Lori loved to love people and her genuine desire to know them better led her to like NASCAR of all things.
She never assumed that she would fail. The assumption was that she was always good enough for whatever she wanted to do. For everyone who asks “how did you get on the show?” in response to her appearance on Wheel of Fortune, the short answer is that she believed she could. That is the truest thing I’ve written so far. She never doubted, and she pursued it as if it was going to happen. That’s why she succeeded. That and her bubbly personality and steel-trap puzzle-solving mind.
Fearless and confident. That’s how she made babies too. Big belly! Big babies!
She was a visionary. We made a mission statement because of her initiative. Now I have that mission statement as an enduring gift. Think how big that is for the kids too. It was the result of two days of soul searching by both of us to define the absolute most important things that she and I valued in life.
Leadership came naturally to her. I often wondered what she could do if unleashed in public office. She flipped a POA board on it’s head through pure grit, an ironclad will, and perfect charisma. If you put Lori in a room full of leaders and gave them all a group project to complete, she always emerged as the team leader. It did not matter how headstrong the other “leaders” were. It was uncanny how they deferred to her eventually. I saw it happen so many times. Despite her default leadership setting, she humbled herself and deferred to my leadership in our marriage more often than not. When I failed, she stepped in and gently coaxed me back on course.
As a wife and mother, I don’t know how to describe it. She was just pure love. Tough but very tender.
Although she was passionate about many things, she was most passionate about Jesus Christ. After her diagnosis, she remained strong. She never cried about her terminal diagnosis, and I know it’s true that she was never afraid. She never became emotional about her own plight. However, she immediately cried (celebrated) and showed deep emotion when friends and family reported to her that they found a footing for their faith in God because of her example. She loved to hear about friends finding Christ or following Him more nearly. I think it dominated her thoughts particularly when she was at her lowest points physically. The day she jumped out of bed to sit with me in the hospital, she again prayed and begged for her friends to find Him! She wanted to share what she had inside with everyone she knew.
Tonight, she bolted out of her bed and ran to wrap her arms around her man so she could praise Him and admire His strength. She told Him repeatedly “You’re so strong”. She’s into what He’s into. He’s into feeding the homeless and caring for the needy. He gives water that eternally quenches thirst. He prefers to be with the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. He’s into loving His enemies. He prays and fasts and stores up treasures in places where no one can break in and steal. He never worries about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. He’s chooses the narrow paths, and He speaks absolute truth. He’s into healing and miracles and faith and commanding the weather. He is all powerful, but He also likes fishing and camping by the lake, building furniture with His hands and mending nets. He defines sacrifice. He’s into storytelling and teaching. He leaves the 99 to find the 1 that is lost. He offers unearned grace and peace and mercy. He conquered death once and for all. The true undisputed champion.
Lori’s spirit left this Earth today, and I know she’s complete now. I felt it in the moment. I was never her #1 man, and that’s how it should be. She lived for eternity, and at this exact moment she’t inheriting her full reward. We should all hope to live as rightly and to die as honorably as she.
February 6, 2016 at 11:40 PM
Beautiful words, Mark…praying for you, brother.
February 6, 2016 at 11:46 PM
Amazing, beautiful, God-given words about your treasure. Mark, we are in prayer for you and for your family. We are so much richer for having known our neighbor and friend, Lori.
February 6, 2016 at 11:51 PM
Mark, we’re so sorry to hear your news and so thankful Lori is laughing and happy in the arms of God tonight. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us through Care Pages and your website. Your story has touched so many lives, and we’re a testimony of those who have never met you but prayed for you and followed you closely over the last two years. Your entire family will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.
February 6, 2016 at 11:53 PM
Lori was an amazing woman. She was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to us in her faith, her strength and her love for Jesus.
February 7, 2016 at 12:00 AM
We are so sorry Mark. She was an extraordinary woman and you have written such beautiful words to describe her. Please know our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and the kids. Much love and hugs to you all.
February 7, 2016 at 12:00 AM
God be with you all. I have watched Lori’s journey, I have cried because of her bravery, strength, and love of God. Your words Mark are beautiful. Mark you and Lori sharing your story with complete stranger’s and family have given strength and hope to many.
February 7, 2016 at 12:01 AM
How beautiful, Mark. You and Lori have been such a loving and strong team, not to mention your beautiful family. We are thinking of you, your children and your extended family. A bright light has departed your lives, but my goodness, what a brightness in Heaven! Thinking of you and extending to you our sympathy.
February 7, 2016 at 12:03 AM
Mark, you don’t know me, I’m also battling Cancer but your POST is beautiful, honoring , encouraging not only to those that know you but to the World. So many are LOST and for Lori and you to live in such a way that when she’s breathed her last and I’m so sorry for that for you and your children; that God has been honored above ALL!!! It doesn’t get better than that!!! I know He will carry and hold you as you journey through this loss. Amazing how disease, hard places can bring out the GLORY of God and everyone that comes in touch with those dealing with these things will NEVER be the same!!!
Bless you and yours,
February 7, 2016 at 12:07 AM
What a beautiful person Lori was and what an incredible legacy she leaves behind for her children, her family and friends. My heart aches tonight for those left behind, but celebrates with Lori who received her ultimate healing through Jesus. I am praying for strength, continued peace, comfort and encouragement.
February 7, 2016 at 12:14 AM
These words are truth and perfection. Wonderfully written, friend. This is an amazing tribute. I don’t have the words to tell you everything I’m feeling for you…just know that I’m Team Jones now and forever. You are both an inspiration to me and to our family.
February 7, 2016 at 12:15 AM
What a beautiful tribute Mark. I am so sorry and will continue to pray for you and the kids.
February 7, 2016 at 12:17 AM
Mark, thank you for allowing me to care for you and Lori and be her nurse during your stay at MVH this week. You and your family are wonderful people and you have touched my life in more ways than you can imagine in just the short time we spent together. I will never forget you guys. I am so happy she is resting peacefully now.
February 10, 2016 at 12:46 AM
Thanks Brittany. It was nice to have you help us through the night. I could see how much both Brittanys cared.
February 7, 2016 at 12:18 AM
What testimony, Mark…to her, to you, to our God. Thank you for sharing with us. We will keep praying for you and the kids.
February 7, 2016 at 12:19 AM
Mark, As so many have said, there are no words at a time like this. Surely those of us weeping with you and for you and your precious children, will help ease the ache and the pain her absence to you. But most importantly you will continue to find your strength and joy in the Lord. I’m awed at the depth of your transparency and the consistent steadfastness of your families faith in God no matter the circumstances. I’m honored to have known and loved Lori and been loved by her. Know that you will continue to be lifted up. What a day of rejoicing it will be when we get to heaven!!! Love in Christ. XOXO
February 7, 2016 at 12:24 AM
Although I never had the honor of meeting Lori in person, she and I spoke on the phone once. We both had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, hers was Stage 4, and I was Stage 2. I will never forget Lori or the impact she made in my life. Her testimony will live on and on. Thank you, Mark, for sharing the posts and keeping so many of us informed. Your faith, strength and example has also witnessed to me. You and your precious children will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Lori must be smiling that beautiful smile of hers as she’s resting in her Father’s arms right now. I look forward to meeting her one day – face to face.
February 10, 2016 at 12:47 AM
I remember you. Thank you.
February 7, 2016 at 12:24 AM
I feel blessed to have read this . Thank you for sharing this . She fought the good fight and has gone home to take her rest.
February 7, 2016 at 1:37 AM
Mark these are the most beautiful words and so true about sweet Lori. You are so strong and I’m in awe of you. We love you so much. Praying always
February 7, 2016 at 1:47 AM
Praying for the family. What a remarkable testimony.
February 7, 2016 at 1:53 AM
We enjoyed knowing Lori for these few short years. You and the children and your entire family are in our thoughts and prayers. As we say in The Salvation Army, she has been Promoted to Glory! She is now …..Home. God bless!
February 7, 2016 at 2:03 AM
So beautifully written Mark! Lori’s life has touched and blessed so many people! You and your family are in our hearts and prayers. Much love from Norway… David and Libby Beaty
February 10, 2016 at 12:49 AM
I love David and Libby Beaty. You guys are an inspiration to me too. I hope we see each other again soon.
February 7, 2016 at 2:11 AM
Heavy hearted for you Mark. Praying for you and join you in joy that Lori now rests in the presence of not just the healer’s hand but the healer himself.
You have a gift with words, and the depth in which you’ve walked with God on this journey exudes your writing.
February 7, 2016 at 2:21 AM
Praying brother. You are loved.
February 7, 2016 at 2:27 AM
I do not know you and have never met your wife; however, your words are words that introduced me to someone I know I would have been honored to meet. Your words have touched me in a way that I hope all will see. A love that you say she had is a love I see you have, too. Although there is some peace for you, I’m sure the human piece must be in heartache, too, and for that I will pray will ease with time and that He continue to bless and comfort you and your children and her friends and family. Thank you for sharing your words with the rest of us. I can say for certain that I would want nothing more than to be remembered the way you introduced us to your wife. May you continue to write, to heal, and to remember you will see her again in eternity. In God’s name, I pray this reaches your hearts as you grieve her absence. Thank you, again, for this beautiful picture.
February 7, 2016 at 2:32 AM
So sorry for this tremendous loss. Someone once said, Jesus ‘s nail scared hands make the perfect canals to hold all our tears. Mark I haven’t buried a spouse but three children and loss seems to be a part of Jerry’s and my story. We are the lucky ones to have been blessed by those three children and I know Lori and you have blessed so many. Thank you for your beautiful story and for sharing it so we all can grow and move towards the goal of eternity. We will continue to pray.
February 10, 2016 at 12:51 AM
The Allenders are a special family. Thanks.
February 7, 2016 at 2:54 AM
I’m so sorry for your earthly loss. I’m praying so much for you, the kids and your families. Lori was such a sweet friend and blessing! Thankful for God’s promise in Revelation 21:4.
February 7, 2016 at 2:59 AM
Wow, Mark. What a testimony y’all have given to the world. We are praying for you and the kids. Thank you for letting God use you so boldly.
Jeremy and Nikki
February 10, 2016 at 12:52 AM
Miss ya bud. Thanks
February 7, 2016 at 4:27 AM
Beautifully written Mark. We’re praying for you and your family.
February 10, 2016 at 12:52 AM
February 7, 2016 at 5:14 AM
Perfectly said! I had the privilege of knowing Lori for a short time while in Dayton and what an amazing impact she had on me and quite the legacy she is leaving behind. There is so much truth in your words and so much hope too. Thankful she is no longer in pain and has now arrived to her eternal dwelling with Jesus. Prayers for you and the kiddos as you continue your family mission statement in honor of beautiful Lori.
February 7, 2016 at 6:20 AM
Beautiful, beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. So thankful that God gave you those words and the strength to share them. Deepest sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for sharing the living message of Lori’s strength, her journey, and her victory. Praying for comfort, peace, and rest for all of you.
February 7, 2016 at 6:30 AM
It was a pleasure to know Lori for just a short time. She was an encouragement to me and she brought so much energy to our CC class last year! Praying for you, Mark, and your family.
February 7, 2016 at 6:57 AM
What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman! Praying for you Mark and for your family. May God’s peace fill you and yours. May God bless you in the days ahead.
February 7, 2016 at 7:23 AM
We are grieved and saddened by this news, but we are thankful she rests in the arms of her Savior. Her life and legacy are a true reflection of the love of Jesus!
February 7, 2016 at 7:33 AM
Mark, Lori and your family have touched so many, including me.
I have marveled at your courage, unwavering faith, and wills.
Please know you and the Bakers are held closely in prayers and love.
May Jesus be unimaginably near and your hearts begin healing from
Her loss, while the understanding that you will all be together someday.
Much love, prayers and blessings,
February 7, 2016 at 7:34 AM
Beautiful words for such a beautiful woman and our beautiful Lord. I have only known Lori for a year, yet her beauty and passion will be with me for a lifetime. We are praying for His comfort and strength for you and your dear family.
February 7, 2016 at 7:46 AM
Mark: Jim and I are so moved by this tribute to your beautiful, strong and amazing sweet Lori. Few people have a testimony like that as they go through the ugly and difficult parts that we face in life and this honoring of her shows where you two are grounded and in Whom. I knew you better as a high schooler and kind friend to Zak when we moved to KY 20 years ago but you have grown into the man your parents prayed for and the husband/sweetheart and friend to Lori that she dreamed of and you’ll be that kind of father to your precious children. Words are poor substitutes at a time with such sadness. Please know that your tribute and the testimony of Lori’s life will serve to change other’s lives in ways you’ll probably never know until revealed in heaven.
February 10, 2016 at 12:54 AM
Thanks Marcy. Very nice
February 7, 2016 at 7:55 AM
Wonderful words about a wonderful woman. You both have handled this journey in a God-honoring and glorifying way. Jaymie and I are so heartbroken. Yet your words inspire hope and challenge all of us. We are always here for you and your family and you know that.
February 10, 2016 at 12:55 AM
February 7, 2016 at 8:02 AM
Rest in Jesus’s arms sweet Lori. You fought a very tough battle and deserve the reward and rest. We will never forget you. You were a huge testament allowing your faith to show through like you did. We, who knew you, are better people, seeing how you never gave up, continued to allow Jesus to lead you and trust in HIM. We should all have that much faith. Love and hugs to your courageous family.
February 7, 2016 at 8:05 AM
What a legacy sweet lady. God be with you all ’til you meet again.
February 7, 2016 at 8:07 AM
Mark I’m praying for you and your family.
February 7, 2016 at 8:12 AM
Lori was 100% right! You are strong – you have been there and despite your own sadness or other emotions or daily schedule as father and provider- you made time to let us all in. You have journaled alongside Lori and exposed the truth medically and personally in a way none of us will ever forget. Your strength I believe was probably a huge reason that Lori wasn’t worried about going home – she knew you could handle everything and peace was possible for her. I can’t imagine how your strength has comforted the kids, Carol, Doug, Rachel and probably dozens more. But I will keep praying that you never forget those parting moments and how she saw you- how we all see you. As far away as Texas and having never even met you – I know you are a strong, courageous man of God and for all of us who loved Lori we praise God you were her man.
Peace today and forever in His mighty name !
February 7, 2016 at 8:29 AM
All the times that Lori would come to our department for one of her many procedures, we knew she was a power to be reckoned with; feisty at first and eventually as the disease took its hold, subdued and sedate. I cannot tell you how much the love of and faith in Our Heavenly Father showed through. Such an example of Grace and inspiration. I am so saddened and heavy hearted for family and friends left behind but exalted that she is dancing and rejoicing in His arms. Thank you for letting us take care of her and for her touching our lives in IR at MVH.
February 10, 2016 at 12:58 AM
Love the IR team. I could tell you all saw what was happening. Thanks for the support.
February 7, 2016 at 8:48 AM
My heart hurts for you and your young family. Lori can rest in peace now in heaven where we all long to be. You have a beautiful angel watching over your precious family. We pray every night for you and will continue to do so.
With all my love, Dani
February 7, 2016 at 9:08 AM
We know that our Father will keep and hold you and your children and family.
He will be your strong man . You and Lori have helped all of us have more faith and trust and peace. We cry some and rejoice some with you.
Hope to meet you and the children some day.
Our love from Abilene,
Bryce and Benna
February 7, 2016 at 9:17 AM
Mark, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Lori’s kindness and effervescent personality will be missed.
February 7, 2016 at 9:20 AM
Mark, our hearts are conflicted with sadness and joy. We are all showering these minutes and hours that pass with prayer for you and your family. What an amazing woman!! She left lasting impressions within moments of meeting her. She knew how to love deeply and she has provided a beautiful legacy to reflect upon. So much love has poured out for you, and continues to do so as the journey continues for you and the kids.
February 7, 2016 at 9:27 AM
This is so wonderful to read though it is in response to a deeply sorrowful event. Your whole family has touched so many people and taught us about the glory of God. This post is such a beautiful description of Lori for those of us who didn’t know her very well personally. Thank you for sharing the amazing woman she will always be remembered as. I am praying for your whole family.
With Love From Louisiana,
February 10, 2016 at 1:00 AM
Thanks Casey. That was nice.
February 7, 2016 at 9:30 AM
Yes, we can rejoice that Lori is with her #1 now. Free of pain and in the presence of her Lord. Mark, your words and your transparency these past months have made all of us who were far away feel closer to your family, a part of the battle, privileged to pray for your family. As certainly as your beautiful wife rests in the presence of God now, may you and your sweet children find strength to endure her loss. May you find peace in the words of all of us who loved her, were inspired to be better by her, prayed for her, and who will miss her. God bless
February 7, 2016 at 9:36 AM
mark, these are beautiful words for a beautiful person. So sorry for your loss, my heart hurts for you and your family. Prayers for peace and comfort for you, your kids and your family.
February 7, 2016 at 9:39 AM
I have followed Lori’s story through mutual friends we share and the Pink Wednesday posts. My heart breaks for you and your family and I also stand in awe of the strength you and Lori have shown through this journey. She was truly an inspiration and a testiment to unwavering faith and trust in God. She is definitely celebrating with Jesus today. Your words as her husband are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard to describe a wife. From our Air Force family to yours we will pray for comfort and peace for you and your family . God bless you all!
February 7, 2016 at 9:50 AM
Mark, you and your whole family are in my prayers . What a beautiful woman Lori was and still is, as she spends eternity with her Heavenly Father. She is such an inspiration to me! God bless you,