“What are we doing?” is the thought that kept repeating in my mind over and over as I listened to my husband and my mother-in-law ask so many questions.
“This just can not be real” was another thought that echoed like something shouted into a deep large and empty canyon.
It was only a few short months ago that my father-in-law was admitted into the hospital with a swollen neck. Just 9 short months to be exact. They told him he had cancer, and yet I remember looking at him and thinking, “he looks perfectly healthy to me,” except for the swollen neck of course. At that time he was the same man I’ve known since I was a teenager, teasing the nurses and always looking for a way to get people in the room to laugh.
“Dad,” as I’ve called him for over 22 years, is one of the most influential mentors I’ve had in my life. He is one of the smartest and wisest men I’ve ever known. A teddy bear, who gives amazing hugs. His growl is always worse than his bite and in his heart, he is a real softie.
He was the first man to teach me that it was ok for a man of strength to cry…even if it was just a Coke commercial. He has always known more obscure details about anything than even my husband, which is saying quite a bit!
He is a man of God. He loves his Savior completley and unquestionably. He knows and follows the precepts that the Bible contains. I always listen when he talks about God’s creation, His love, His providence and His provision. A Hebrews 11 believer. A man who has been so powerful in shaping my spiritual life. A man who I will always look to for wisdom and guidance.
One of the highlights of my adult life has been to cook for him! As the mom of four of his grandchildren, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to make birthday meals, Thanksgiving feasts, summer barbecues and Christmas dinners for him. No one loved my cooking more than dad. It has always been such a joy to cook for this man! And to kick him out of my “space” as I cooked…he was always hovering around my island and in my way as I worked to prepare meals. And I never hesitated to tell him so!
Oh, how I miss those days. The damn cancer has cruelly taken away his ability to eat and enjoy food. The last thing he had at my house was a cup of coffee. Making that cup of coffee was an honor I will never forget.
I love him so much. I hardly remember my life without him. This man of God, a man of strength and dignity and wisdom. A man who has meant the world to me.
I’m so angry that he has spent these last 9 months in so much pain. I’m so angry that he has had to endure endless procedures and radiation that damaged his body in ways that are unspeakable, that he has had to go to endless appointments to receive chemotherapy. This is all too much, too sudden, too hard, too cruel, too…
How does one play the role of “daughter?” Or “son” Or “wife” Or “patient” What prepares you for this? How do you do this? Questions I continue to ask as I watch our family try to navigate cancer. I don’t even have the words to adequately describe what this is like.
How do you make decisions for someone you love so fiercely?
I’ve spent many hours wishing I could roll back the clock and really appreciate the mundane. Why did I miss it? Why wasn’t I paying closer attention? I’d give anything to go back just once to hearing dad’s tenor voice, listening to one more lecture or seeing him sing in just one more choir.
In all of this he has been a fighter, the fiercest kind. Dutifully taking one step after another…so strong even when he is so weak. Loving God…it’s still so evident in everything he does. It’s simply amazing. He is still teaching me.
Dad is a true hero in my eyes. A man of God.
I hate this.
That’s all I can really say.
“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.” Hebrews 11:39