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A battle and a blessing

A battle and a blessing
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville - March 28th, 2016 Hernia repair Surgery Dr. Asbun

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville – March 28th, 2016 Hernia repair Surgery Dr. Asbun

Am I battling for my life? Is the enemy surrounding me and do I have weapons that I raise to fight?

This week I read an article written by Kate Granger who has cancer who claimed cancer is not a fight. She said, in her view “the cancer seems to revolve around wartime rhetoric: battle, fight, warrior, beat.” She found these words uncomfortable and frustrating to hear.

“I would like to be remembered for the positive impact I have made on the world, for fun times and for my relationships with others, not as a loser. When I do die, I will have defied the prognosis for my type of cancer and achieved a great deal with my life. I do not want to feel a failure about something beyond my control. I refuse to believe my death will be because I didn’t battle hard enough.”, she wrote.

Please don’t think I challenge her personal opinion. In fact, I found it to be an interesting point of view. It got me to do some serious thinking about my perspective. Would I be offended if someone uttered “she lost her brave fight” once that I have passed on?

Not at all.

Another writer, Rebecca Hamilton wrote she felt “like someone who has wintered over at the South Pole and is now peeking from behind doors at the newcomers who’ve arrived with the sun….I been fighting for my life, just as surely as any gladiator in an arena, any soldier in battle. I have been, like they are, on strange soil, someone else’s territory, guarding my back as well as my front as I sought purchase on the shaky ground under my feet, as I fought to find the way out of the nightmare.”

Rebecca resented the word “survivor” at first. “After all, no one “survives” cancer, at least not with surety. It can come back at any time and when it does, chances are that it will come back meaner and more advanced than the last time we saw it.”

Now she understands the word survivor differently.”I feel like a survivor, but of a decidedly unheroic, uncertain and battered sort. I am not the heroine, striding over the top of a hill to claim my victory crown. I am rather a shipwreck victim, washed up on a beach, half conscious and too exhausted to lift her face out of the sand.”

I felt that was a perfect analogy. I could relate to that person lying weak on the sandy beach after washing ashore. Fighting to stay atop the water, treading till I feared I would give up. That is what it feels like to endure surgery, infections, drains, chemotherapy and radiation. Yet, I made it to shore. I didn’t give up. I didn’t succumb to the waves or the cold or the uncertainty of my fate.

I won that battle. I am victorious. But it is only temporary.

I lift my mug each morning and take a sip of my creamy hot joe watching the sun rise. Assessing how I am feeling, I think to myself as Rebecca thinks….”Today I feel good….Today is not the day I am going to die.” I have TODAY.

Surviving with strong faith has been my victory. Will I win the battle over cancer? Statistically not. Regardless of where the cancer moves next my death certificate will read…”Cause of Death…Pancreatic Cancer.” But, I will fight a good fight. I will battle forward.

Everyday I am blessed to live I will pray for God to grace me with time to see my children and my grandchildren thrive.

” The same cancer ordeal that has ravaged your body can put you in a place so close to God that you can feel His presence every moment….You can feel the everlasting arms around you and know that you are loved, cherished and protected there forever.” says Rebecca. (Oh is she ever right about that.) “You don’t have to do anything except trust. Just let God love you through this and you will wash up on that shore, battered and ravaged physically, but stronger than you have ever been spiritually.”

I pray people will remember how they saw Jesus thru me. He surely lives in me. I am so thankful for the faith that brings me through this battle. There are so many that do not believe and I cannot imagine how they must suffer. I might not win the battle with cancer….but I have deepened my faith and the faith of my family and those close to me. For that I am thankful.

Cancer is a battle but more importantly it has turned out to be a blessing.

Dad

Dad

The hospital room was chilly and I felt uncomfortable and a little frightened about being left alone with Dad in this condition. He was struggling for air but they had not put him on a ventilator at his request. I guessed this was a brave and wise decision. Or was it really? I held his hand tightly. I didn’t really know what to say to him. Could he hear me?

Dad had suffered a paralyzing stroke ten years before at his desk at work. Of course this would be the way it would happen.When you looked up workaholic, his picture appeared. But, the stroke left him paralyzed on his entire left side and in a wheelchair.

He had always been an intelligent man. He was a successful businessman. Even after the stroke he would carry on great conversations with me about politics and the economy.

He was proud of my accomplishments at the mortgage company and enjoyed hearing the latest details of what I was doing and where I was heading, as he watched me climb the ladder. It must have reminded him of himself somehow.

The nurse came in to check his vitals. His blood pressure was very low. She didn’t offer much information.

Dad’s doctor had told me that day I should contact the family and if anyone had anything they needed to clear up with Dad, they should do it in the next few weeks. Of course I called my sister and brother and told them what the Doctor had said. They were both thousands of miles away. Should they come?

Surely, he wouldn’t pass now. This could go on for weeks. Couldn’t it?

The sun was shining through the large window casting a warm yellow light on his white blanket. He didn’t move under it. He lay still just barely breathing. I listened for each breath. The machines beeped every few seconds, but the room was still.

Suddenly I sensed he was trying to tell me something. I stood up from my chair and squeezed his hand and told him I was there. He was struggling to say something. I could not make it out. I squeezed his hand maybe even too hard as if I was holding him here. Keeping him from leaving me again.

And he was gone.

Just like he was there the day I was born, in that hospital, holding my tiny infant hand. I held his hand till his breath was gone.

Some Beth Moore words

Some Beth Moore words

One of my very dear friends, Debbie had a close friend pass away a couple of years ago from a long painful illness. Near the end of this strong Christian’s fight her friends gathered at her bedside. They put on the praise music and passed the hours by reading passages from books about heaven and eternal life. Debbie shared that her friend handled her illness in such a strong way. I could only hope to be able to do the same. But, the thought of your dearest Sisters in Christ gathered around you in your final hours sharing in the excitement of the journey you are about to take comforts me. It is as if it were a vacation and the books were travelogs describing the beautiful sights you would see.
Thanks to Debbie for sharing this tender memory with me. I have decided to gather phases and descriptions of heaven. Our Wednesday morning Bible study group just completed a seven week Beth Moore study on the Psalms of the Ascent called “STEPPING UP”

Beth Moore, Lifeway

This will be the first in my journal. It is a paragraph from one of the final days lessons written by Beth Moore. I hope it comforts you and if you read this and know anyone who is afraid of death, that you will share it with them.

“The destination of any trip sets the tone of travel. You and I are not on our way to a funeral like many of those who surround us. We who are in Christ are on our way to a wedding of such glorious and expensive proportions that we’ll have to change our clothes from mortal to immortal just to survive the thrill. Yes, as the psalmist said, joy cometh in the morning (Ps. 30:5 KJV) but the very anticipation invites it into our night.”

Her final blessing upon others at the end of her study is this:

“When life is excruciating, may you find the strength in Christ to crawl on your hands and knees, sowing the Word of God and watering it with your tears. May you never forget you are inconceivably loved and that God will prove infinitely faithful. And, on your way to the great feast in the heavenly Jerusalem, may you glance often to your tight and to your left and offer a fellow pilgrim a helping hand. May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”

Thank you Beth Moore. You are truly anointed.