Sunday, August 31, 2008

Learning About Dad's Illness

On Wednesday, 8/27/08, we learned that my dad, age 77, has esophageal cancer. If he is a candidate for surgery, his prognosis is quite good; otherwise, not so good. He is waiting to see a specialist to determine whether he can have surgery. With the long weekend, we're having to wait so long!

Here are some excerpts from my journal from the last few days.

Wondering How To Pray (Wed 8/27/08 AM)
There's something I'm confused about. Mom called last night and said the results of Dad's stomach and esophagus biopsies were not good. They're going to the office to get the results today. I didn't know how to pray for Dad. Do I pray for his healing, or just ask for God's will? Of course I want God's will for Dad, but won't that happen anyway? What's the point of praying at all if you're not asking for something?

As I was lying in bed pondering these thoughts, this came to my mind: "You have not because you ask not." Then I immediately thought of one of my memory passages in John 15: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit."

So I said, "OK, God. I'm going to ask. I want you to heal my dad. I want you to spare his life. And I want it to be for your glory."

Understanding God's Purpose (Friday 8/29/08 AM)
I learned something new about Romans 8:28, after all my months of meditating and memorizing. Chapter 25 of Purpose Driven Life says that the purpose God has called us to is simply to be conformed to Jesus' likeness. So my beloved verse sort of reads differently: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." That's why all circumstances work together for my good, because they're conforming me to Jesus' image.

So we need to rejoice in this trial of Dad's illness, because God has a plan that is far beyond our understanding. Praise unlocks the door to joy, and we can have joy even in this terrifying circumstance.

Wondering How to Feel (Sunday 8/31/08 PM)
I wish I could figure out what I'm feeling. I think I'm sort of numb. I would expect to be crying over Dad, but it's almost like I'm afraid to jinx him. If I cry, will it "give me something to cry about"? I know a positive attitude is so important, but I don't want to suppress my sorrow.

I feel irritable and short-tempered, easily frustrated. My feelings are hurt over nothing. I feel aggravated that Bill isn't babying me. I want extra hugs, and kind gestures like flowers and cards. And I want him to KNOW this without my asking.

Finding Comfort (Sunday 8/31/08 PM)
On Friday night, I told Bill I was feeling sad--not necessarily about Dad, but just blue in general. I told him my heart felt heavy, like there was literally a weight on my chest. I asked if he ever felt that physical heaviness in his heart. Surprisingly, he said yes. He feels that way when we have to come home from visiting family in Canada. It was good to know he understood what I was feeling. He also understood about not wanting to cry for fear of acknowledging that Dad might not be OK.

After we talked, he stroked my back and arm for a couple of minutes. Then I nestled my back against his chest, and he held me so tight I could barely breathe. We stayed like that until long after he was asleep. This is what marriage is about! I felt safe, and I was thankful for this physical comfort for my hurts.

It occurs to me that the reality of death sharpens our appreciation for life and love. Knowing we could lose Dad makes our love for family much more poignant and sweet. Why can't we ALWAYS hold on to the value of life this way?

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