Last week I wrote of Love, and of the beautiful, mysterious pain that accompanies such a surrender of emotion. When I typed those words, I formed them in the context of watching my child graduate kindergarten. They were framed in the knowledge that Love requires separation, and in my innocent state of mind, I could only see the separation of parent and child that comes through space and time.
Then we got the phone call no one wants to receive.
There was a mass. The biopsy reveals cancer. We wait and we pray, and we hope for the best – the miracle of healing. Today the confirmation brought unwelcome news.
Stage 4. Metastatic.
Suddenly the pain of Love grew wings and took flight. Lee’s dad – our patriarch, our hero, our mentor, and a steady spiritual guide – now faces a fight that, short of a miraculous touch from God Himself, will result in his passing from this life on earth and into the gates of heaven.
Lee and I have gathered our flock tight these last few days, clinging to one another as we slide down into yet another trough.
“…Now it may surprise you to learn that in His (God’s) efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks;some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
There is no irony in our present circumstance. We cannot point to these days with a flippant laugh and label them a coincidence. For on the very day we got news that cancer had invaded one we loved, Lee was in process to make a transition at work.
His division was cut loose from the company. We’d known this for weeks, and while the news was met with some disappointment, suddenly it seemed that he had lost his job for such a time as this.
Severance gives him a cushion to absorb the blow of his father’s illness. We have the freedom to leave, he and I, for the weekend, and fly to Arkansas where we will fold into the arms of his parents and brothers and all face this new challenge in the race together.
What a privilege it is…
When we told our kids of their grandfather’s illness, I felt a tightness pinch my heart. My sweet little ones will now taste the sting of illness. They can no longer be sheltered from the fear of grieving and, given the statistics, they may face the searing pain of death far earlier than I would have wanted them to.
And yet I cannot escape the thought that this journey we are about to walk as a family is a privilege. One thought has rumbled across my heart all day as I’ve processed this pain of a Love torn.
What a privilege it is for my children to know the sting of illness and the reality of heaven at a tender age.
We’re gearing up for a road filled with hope and unknowns. We cry out for a miracle, with full belief that God, in His mighty power, is capable of banishing the cancer from Herb’s body with a simple touch of His Hand. We pray for this, that we may show our children the power of God, and proclaim Him to the world.
We accept the reality that God may have a different path planned. One in which we must say goodbye far sooner than we ever hoped or imagined or desired. And if this is the path we must follow, we will show our children the power of God, and we will proclaim Him to the world.
Cancer is an ugly word. It sucks the marrow of joy right out of a soul. But we have been given the grace of time. We pray it will be longer than the statistics predict. We pray it will be sweeter than the treatment’s effects. We rejoice in our current state of jobless unknowns, for it gives us the sweet freedom of time to process.
What a privilege it is to walk this road of grief and hope, for in this trough I feel God so near. He is real, a balm to the sting.
My ten year old and I took a walk today. Hand in hand we made our way down the sidewalk, and his sweet innocence blessed me.
“I’m excited to see heaven now,” he said to me, a smile spread across his face. “I can just imagine it, and what I’m imagining is awesome.”
What a privilege it is to walk this pain. We covet your prayers in the days, weeks, and months to come. They will be hard, and they will be sweet. They will mirror the mystery of Love.
Join us in praying for a miracle – no matter what shape it may take.
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You are a Godly woman, Kelli Martin Stuart.
Most days I just feel like I’m scraping by, but thank you for your encouragement and prayers, my friend.
So true. There is a mixture of deepest sorrow and the highest heights as our loved ones suffer- as heaven comes to life.
I love you and will continue to pray for every heart affected by Herb’s faith, life, love, and disease.
Thank you, Wen.
Kelli, what a wonderful perspective.
Having walked this path with my dad a year ago, the pain is still fresh. .. But the hope of heaven is a wonderful comfort.
My kids now 6 and 8 have weathered the storm wonderfully and often talk of seeing grandpa in heaven one day.
My prayers are with you and your family.
Thank you for that encouragement, Marcia, and for your prayers!
We forget sometimes that this life on earth is not the final one. Heaven is graduation time for those who know Jesus. Yet, we don’t always welcome eternity with this attitude for fear of the unknown. This life we now live with the imperfections of our bodies and souls should be in preparation for the life with Him and others that have preceded us in this journey of faith!
Amen! Thank you for that encouragement.
This brings years to my eyes as we prayed my dad into heaven just one month ago. Indeed, He already knows the day we’ll be born and the day we’ll go home. Death is the separation of the eternal soul from the mortal body. May God carry all of you in His loving arms. Prayers being lifted up.
Having lost my father just over a year ago, I still wrestle with the joy and pain of this loss…Mostly because my children will not be able to experience his gentle nature and his giving spirit…Nevertheless I am comforted in knowing he’s free from the pain and the uncomfortable treatments and all that go along with battling the dreaded cancers…I am also comforted in knowing that we will meet again and what a reunion day that will be…Thank you for sharing such a small but intimate part of your life with us and your family will be lifted up in prayer as the Lord’s will be done.
It is true that our hearts ache for our children more than anything. We are just thankful that we know we have time, and we pray it will be longer than they predict!
We went through cancer with my mother-in-law three years ago (pancreatic cancer, and it was very fast). I pray you will feel the comfort of the Lord in these trying times, and yes, I will pray for a miracle with you.
I was surprised at the number of people who told us, “Don’t be sad, you know you will be together in heaven …” But we mourn the loss of our loved ones in our lives, and in our children’s lives NOW. And I think it’s right to mourn. Doesn’t the bible teach us to “mourn with those who mourn”? So if anyone tells you to buck up and stop crying just because you’re a Christian, don’t let them get to you.
Thank you, Spring. 🙂
MAY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, WHO IS THE ONE AND ONLY , WRAP HIS LOVING ARMS AROUND YOU ALL, AND GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED , TO GET THROUGH THIS , AND STILL GIVE HIM THE PRAISE AND GLORY. IN HIS TIME HE MAKES ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL, LOVE IN CHRIST SHARON SAWYER
Thank you for the prayers. They mean a lot!
Love you guys!!! Praying for you all to feel His almighty presence at every turn. Everything we go thru in this life helps us to gain more wisdom and perspective of God’s love and draws us closer to Him. Your wisdom has grown Soo much these past few years!! Would you have ever seen a job loss as a good thing in the past. I can tell you guys are totally trusting Him with EVERYTHING. It is in the darkest times where we feel closest to Him. So crazy Lee’s dad is going thru the exact thing Mike’s dad did. We are here anytime and will be praying for God’s will.
Thanks friend. We miss you guys a lot. Lee is looking forward to hearing from Mike. Love you guys!
It’s as if you described the season my family and I have been in…even down to the father in love, job loss and how it has given my kids precious opportunities to experience God in such a way at such a young age!