Ron continues his narration. Denver receives another standing ovation at the National Philanthropy Day ceremony when he receives a philanthropy award on Deborah’s behalf. The day after, Ron meets with the board of Union Gospel Mission where he discovers that $350,000 dollars were donated, and the Deborah Hall Memorial Chapel will be built.
Once again, Deborah’s death, while tragic, provides the impetus for new growth and development in Union Gospel Mission’s work with the homeless, demonstrating the meaning that Christian faith can contribute to tragedy.
After these events, Ron collapses, mired in agony and depression. He wanders around their home, looking through old memories, smelling Deborah’s clothes, reading the notes she had written in her Bible. He drops so much weight that Mary Ellen asks Ron if he has a “death wish,” which seems fitting to him. In the midst of his anguish, Ron also becomes angry—angry at the doctors, the cancer researchers, but especially at God. In his own words, “I had trusted [God], and He failed me. How do you forgive that?”
Although Ron was temporarily buoyed through his grief and his anger with God by the swirl of events, once the pace of life subsides he feels the full weight of his grief. Ron’s collapse into misery and bitterness demonstrate that, despite the miracles and the faith of others, and despite the Christianity’s ability to make meaning out of tragedy, pain and grief still must be felt and endured.
That Thanksgiving, Ron and Denver sit at Rocky Top and reminisce as Ron tries to endure the pain of a holiday without Deborah. Even though Denver has been to Rocky Top before, he never seems comfortable sleeping there. Though Ron sees him as a brother, he fears that Denver feels like a “hanger-on” after Deborah’s death.