I hate waiting. Waiting for just about anything makes me crazy. I’m ready to check out, so I briskly walk up and down the check-out isle surveying my possibilities. Which clerk appears fastest? Who has the least number of items in their basket? Does that person look like they will get to the end of the process and spend five minutes digging for their card? And perhaps worst of all, I get into line and then watch someone else come after me and get into another line. But when I’m checking out, that person walks by me with the fulfilled smile that only the completion of the process brings to one’s face. Curses, I screwed up that decision! I hate waiting.
I hate waiting in traffic. Many times, I’ve taken what turned out to be a much longer route just so I didn’t have to stop. I’d rather keep moving than sit in a traffic jam. I hate waiting on the car in front of me at the stop light. The light turns green, cars are moving, and this nitwit is chatting on the phone causing my delay. They should know that I am on a mission from God and should not be delayed in any way. I hate waiting.
I’m sitting in my living room in my favorite writing chair. I’ve written thousands of pages in this chair. This is my favorite location in our house. But today, the room is cluttered with nasty things like a walker, a wheelchair, another kind of walker, a rocking chair that belongs in the basement, and, worst of all, a large machine that pulls oxygen from the air in my living room and sends it down a green tube towards the bed in the next room. The tubes wrap around Gail’s ears and an ugly little device sends oxygen into her nostrils.
The next room is our dining room, or I should say, was our dining room. Now, the dining room set we purchased with the inheritance we received when my mother died many years ago, is sitting in our garage, covered with plastic I usually use as a drop cloth for painting. I usually look through the dining room into the morning sun pouring through the large window into our home. The sunshine illuminates the beautiful glossy finish on our cherry table. Today, I’m looking at a grey curtain that was installed by close friends last week, while I was with Gail at the hospital. They did everything possible to make this place of fun and fellowship into a cozy bedroom where my beautiful bride would come home to spend her remaining days in a hospital bed.
This indeed happened. We brought Gail home last Saturday evening under Hospice care. We had just spent the week from hell in Hershey Medical Center while a large team of doctors and nurses worked to get Gail’s body back into some kind of balance for the last time. They were successful, to whatever extent one would define success at this point. Only one decision remained. Gail must decide whether or not to continue chemotherapy. For me, this was a no-brainer. There was certainly no way she would be receiving chemo on Friday of this week, but what about next week and beyond. Absolutely not. The witches brew that had sustained her life for the past twenty-two months had also made her life very difficult. Now, just as our doctor told us on our very first visit, the chemotherapy was not working. Pancreatic cancer is an evil monster that learns how to morph and change in such a manner that it learned how to fight off the chemo and continue its relentless drive towards taking the life from my wife’s beautiful body.
But, to Gail, chemo had meant life, extended life. Would one more treatment give her one more week with her family? Gail’s single greatest concern through this entire process has been that she would be forced to leave me and her family without her – especially me. “He will be alone and miserable when I leave.” She was so sorry for this turn of events. Just one more treatment might help. Answer: No, it would not help. In fact, it would rob from us several more days after the treatment when Gail could do little more than lie on the couch suffering. We’re down to days now, not months. Every day counts, every moment counts. Unlike me, Gail has always been slow to make big decisions. I suppose that is why she was usually right when the decision was made. But this time I knew the right decision. After several excruciating discussions, late Friday afternoon, she decided, no more chemotherapy. Now Hospice could be contacted, and their amazing, wonderful, compassionate work could begin. In fact, I had to stop writing for a few minutes because an angel, called an “Aid,” arrived to tend to my wife.
Medicine had done all it could do for my bride. Now, it was time to wait. I hate to wait. The little health that remained in Gail’s body quickly exited to the point that she has lost most of her consciousness. But there is one part of her that remains healthy – her heart. After the tests of last week, doctors told us that she has the heart of a twenty-year old. They were very surprised by this. However, that which would normally be good news, now means that, no matter how ill the rest of her body remains, her heart continues beating. How appropriate. The organ that represents my wife so well, remains alive and life-giving. My wife has given life to thousands of people throughout her life. But I must now convince her and God that is it time to take her heart to heaven where she will be embraced and rewarded for her life-long willingness to share her heart with the world.
“Lord, You and I have had some disagreements over the past two years. Each time, I’ve tried to learn how to trust you. As you know, “trust,” has been both Gail and I’s “one word” during this entire ordeal. I know faith is built on trust, Lord. But I hate waiting. How can I be to the point that I am asking you to take the life of my bride? I’ve been asking you for two-years to give her life. I’ve changed my mind. Lord, her work here is finished. She did it well. Please stop the waiting.”
I hate to wait.
Come, Lord Jesus.