Another day in our lives. It is Labor Day 2018. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that we don’t have to “labor” on Labor Day! I digress.
Gail was unhooked from the chemotherapy pump yesterday afternoon after receiving the drugs all day Friday and then all weekend. This is always a long, painful weekend. Gail feels terrible for several days, and each treatment leaves her more debilitated. This time, the neuropathy has risen all the way up her legs to her hips. The condition is painful, and it makes it hard for her to walk. It’s hard to keep your balance when you cannot feel the ground under your feet. Her hands sense more pain than ever and she continues to swell in her abdomen and legs. This is a sign that her liver is not working well, and that the chemotherapy has adversely affected her blood vessels until they kind of “leak” into her body. At some point, she will need to have her abdomen drained. We don’t look forward to that. Her “labor” today is the simple act of walking.
There is, however, something even worse than the physical pain. I call it mental anguish. There are always two forces at work in Gail’s mind, as well as my own. Last week Gail celebrated her 60th birthday. We threw her a huge party and nearly 100 friends and family members came to celebrate with her. I must say this was the most amazing family event I’ve ever envisioned, and my daughters pulled it off as only my daughters can. It was awesome! Even close friends whom we have not seen in many years made the journey to be with her on this very special day. Frankly, in our quiet moments we were just glad that God has seen fit to allow her to stay with us for another year. We really did not expect it. So, once again, God came through. There are several important days in which we quietly say to one another, “We did not expect to celebrate this again, but here we are.”
This coming Sunday, we will witness our youngest daughter’s marriage and, once again, Gail did not expect to be there. But she will be there, and this ceremony will be sweeter than ever. The cliché about living for the moment is pretty good advice.
Now back to the rest of the story, mental anguish. If there is anything to be learned from this experience, it is how badly Satan desires to remove every possible hint of joy, security and happiness from our lives. The ecstasy of enjoying days of life that you did not expect to enjoy, is quickly eclipsed by the anguish of those special days not being exactly as you wished. Yes, Gail made it to 60. Yes, Gail will watch her daughter walk down the aisle with the man of her dreams. But, she will still have cancer. She will still need help to walk into the banquet hall. She will be worn out before it ever begins. She has not been able to help Kristin with all her plans in the manner Gail would have liked. She is terribly nervous that all the commotion of people and events will be overshadowed by her illness. She has been petrified that her beautiful dress, purchased long before the recent swelling began, will not fit her. “And, it’s too late to find a new one,” she proclaimed. The list could go on.
How can we think so many negative things, about something so positive, in such a short time? Satan is behind it. He loves to witness humans in the midst of mental anguish, especially when the anguish is actually derived from something so positive, like your daughter’s wedding.
So, I sat in my chair this morning, working on my computer when she was seated on the sofa, and began the barrage of pain about all of these matters – matters mind you – that are true and accurate. Everything that worried Gail, every thought that was making her miserable was correct. It was not exaggerated.
As I sat there doing my best not to cry, struggling not to be drawn into her anguish, I knew we had to make a choice. We can spend the rest of this week being miserable about these circumstances, or we can choose to live on the other side of the tracks. Gail will get up tomorrow, get her Neulasta shot, and then likely do something that will make someone else’s life better. She will help her daughter and share with her daughter the most wonderful week of her life. She will enjoy the love and laughter of our houseful of relatives and friends. And, come Sunday, she will walk down the aisle like a queen adorned in all of her beauty. She will take her seat and then watch as I escort our daughter, one into whom she has poured so much of her life, and I, with all the joy I can muster answer the question, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” And I will glance back at my wife and with great pleasure say, “Her mother and I.”
Take that Satan.