Three years seems so long ago, yet, at the same time, like just yesterday. This week is the three-year anniversary of my husband, Joe's, diagnosis of brain cancer, and in many ways, I can't believe it's been so long.
Joe, agreed to accompany me as I made last minute purchases for an end of the school year activity for my classroom. While in the store he suddenly said that he was not feeling well. He thought that he was dehydrated. As the evening progressed and drinking water did not help, we found ourselves in the emergency room. The doctor decided to run a CAT scan, and we found out that he had a brain tumor. That moment didn't seem real and still doesn't. It feels like a lifetime ago.
During the first year and a half we experienced many ups and downs. Much of the time it seemed like the downs were unsurvivable. From the time the biopsy came back as cancer, we watched our world as we knew it melt away. Sometimes it was small pieces at a time, and other times it was like huge chunks of a glacier crashing into the sea floating away, away, away - never to be seen again. So many things that we take for granted as a normal part of our lives became either an intense struggle to accomplish or simply an impossibility for Joe. For months I prayed for a time where he would recover enough that we could enjoy simple things like walks together.
He did recover. The tumor is still present, but the cancer is a lot less.
Most importantly, he was blessed with a much better quality of life than cancer initially took. Many things that he had lost were restored (short-term memory, ability to drive, returning to work, and many more). Not every physical ability has been restored; he still experiences lingering effects both of the disease as well as the chemo. Life for us has reached a much more acceptable normalcy.
When I think back to those dark months I spent praying for just a little bit more time to spend with and enjoy my husband, I didn't know how God would answer my prayers. I knew that He heard them. I felt that He was with me and with Joe, but I didn't know what His answer would be. I leaned on God like I never had before, like I didn't know would be possible, and I felt Him holding me, but I didn't know when or how He would answer my desperate cries. I did not know it then, but looking back I feel that He answered me by giving the gift of faith.
I had never really thought of faith as being a powerful gift until I experienced it. I knew that life for Joe and me would never return to where it had been. I didn't know what God had planned, but He had given me a faith to believe in His love for me and His love for Joe. Because of that faith, I knew that whatever the outcome, we would be okay because we were, are, and always will be in God's hands.
This past week, women from our church, Riverview, attended an event held every couple of months called Chick Chat. Tuesday's focus was on worship. As we discussed various aspects of worship and sang His praises, it magnified for me the blessings He lavished upon the two of us over the past three years. Though many challenges still exist dealing with this disease, our God has not forgotten us. He is and has been present in our lives, blessing us each day with the unmeasurable gift of each other. The awareness of that blessing is priceless.
Three years ago our world began melting away. As the pieces are coming back together in a new arrangement, the beauty filling the picture is incredible, and I am incredibly grateful.