It has been a year today since his departure and I keep telling myself over and over again that this is okay, ‘for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’ Those are words often used by Pastor Lance Chaney over the years we enjoyed each other’s friendship and fellowship. But, honestly, I am not consoled by those words and it is not okay. I hear them and I understand them! And truthfully, I do believe them. Honestly, I do believe those sacred words. And I am not complaining or blaming anyone; nor am I bitter about this it all. I just want to talk to him or share some fellowship or fun time with him. I am not sad; really I’m not. As I write this I am just overjoyed with memories that are plentiful. But, today, I would enjoy something as simple as that crazy laugh or a phone conversation would be nice. But I remind myself, ‘for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.’
Those words, however, don’t fill the void that has been created by his absence. A void was created on July 21, 2013 that he filled for years. We served as pastors in the Quad-Cities USA. He was on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River while I was on the Iowa side. He was an HBCU graduate (UAPB) and I was a graduate of Mississippi’s flagship university. He was an Alpha man while I was None Phi None! He was the Chairman of the Martin Luther King Celebration and I was his assistant. I was president of the QC Baptist Pastors’ Conference and he was the vice-president. He was a member of the board of Churches United of the Quad Cities and I was a member of the board. We both worked as a part of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign in the QCA during the 1988 Presidential Campaign. He served Greater Antioch Baptist Church of Rock Island, IL and I served Third Missionary Baptist Church of Davenport, IA. We were advocates for our communities, touching lives in the streets and in our churches. We took our wives on special Valentine’s excursions, Marilane and Suzette, kidnapping them from work for quality time together. His three children Alex, Ashley and Allison, along with my three, Charity, Aeryca and Kristen were close and even now share a strong bond between each other. Kristen honored him by adding his name to her son’s name, Justin Christopher Lance Ware. He was happy to allow Justin to wear it and we were pleased also. I’m teaching Justin what his name means and the great person who also wore it; he should know he wears a great man’s name and be honored.
The Reverend Lance Chaney was and is in so many minds and hearts a great man, a great preacher, a great pastor, and a great friend! I respected and loved him for all of that. We all did!
The experiences of fellowship, fun, cooperation and collaboration, interactions and interests all made for a great bonding and friendship. We were together on so many projects, ministry initiatives, programming planning, or strategies for bringing exposure to great teaching and preaching for our faith community. We attended workshops, seminars, congresses and conventions together. We talked just about every day . . . “Is the Right Reverend, Pastor, Doctor, Bishop, Apostle Larry W. Ware in” would be his first words over the phone no matter who answered . . . until the time he simply didn’t feel like talking on the phone. I was the one challenged so much of the time with ailments, conditions, or surgeries. He was a great support through all those times. And when he got sick, I reciprocated. We were friends. We could be honest about our feelings or frustrations and neither of us was met with judgment regarding what we were feeling or saying. We could vent to each other. If either of us was in need, the other would try to meet that need; a sermon concept; a brainstorming session; accountability; encouragement; or just a fun time away from all of the seriousness and sacredness of pastoral ministry. We were friends! And he was so generous . . . sacrificing to benefit others by helping wherever he could. He wasn’t perfect, neither of us could claim that, but he was good; he was a hard worker, full of compassion with a heart to consider others and love them, and he was perfect for us, his family and inner circle of friends.
He left us July 21, 2013. It was hard then to let him go, especially so because I was in the hospital and could not get there to support his family as we had discussed. Some days, it’s still hard, missing a best friend!
We had one last opportunity to spend time together in June, 2013. He tried his best to reassure me that everything was alright and I tried to convey to him my own peace. He had a way of protecting others from his own pain and suffering. It was hard for both of us but it would be our last time together. He was too weak to talk much, but we tried as much as we could. I was there and that is what mattered. As I departed the last time, I went over to his bed to shake his hand. He held on for a moment, speechless. He knew. And deep within, I knew.
People will say perhaps that a year is long enough to mourn the passing of a loved one. I doubt that . . . it is never wise to put a limit on the grieving process. No one should be judging how someone else should feel about that. And please don’t tell Marilane, Alex, Ashley, Allison, Raye Lynn, nieces and nephews, the Wares, or anyone who loved Reverend Lance Chaney dearly, anything like that. It doesn’t work by the clock like that. It has been a year now and we miss him. We’re coping and we’re moving on, but we miss him deeply still. Just pray for us!
I’m discovering in many ways that departed loved ones are more with me now than ever before. The memories are many! And some days it just seems like a situation or circumstance, a feeling, an insight or a thought, or even the notice of the make and model of ‘his car’ passes by; and for a moment it is as though he just spoke or whispered something that takes me there as if we are still together in the same dimension. His wisdom, inspirations, instructions, his look and smile still touch me and I smile and I remember . . . and I still miss him! But he is so alive within me; he is with me, and his ‘works do follow him.’ Thank God for a great friend!
Rest well beloved of the Lord! I’ll see you in the morning!