Beauty and the UnBeautiful

Life is messy.  It gets ugly.  Really ugly.  And it’s so easy to get caught up in all that ugliness and completely forget to look for the beauty.  When you’re up to your elbows in poop and spit-up, you haven’t had a chance to shower all day, and you still have 3 hours until somebody can relieve you?  That’s ugly.  But that baby – the cause of all your problems right now – smiles at you for the first time, and all of your problems disappear.  How beautiful is that?  You, for whatever reason, have to give up your house – the one that you have poured hour upon hour into making into a home?  There’s nothing beautiful about that, is there?  Oh, but there is!  It’s not the house that was your home.  It’s the people you share it with.  The laughter, the smiles, the tears – all the things you shared in that house are the things that turned that house into your home.  Your home, wherever it may be, is beautiful because of the love that lives there.  Your preschooler just thoroughly embarrassed you at the park in the middle of his t-ball game, which is actually a pretty common occurrence, but you know that he’s going to come up with another awesome way to hug you when you get home.  Jump hugs, double jump hugs, spin hugs, squeeze-tight hugs.  Can you think of anything more beautiful?

Cancer, though.  Cancer is ugly.  There’s absolutely nothing about cancer that I can think of as beautiful.  It literally sucks the life out of you.  I’m sure I could come up with some pretty unsavory words for cancer, but what’s the point?  As ugly as cancer is, though, I can still find beauty in this crappy situation I’m in.  In these last two months, I have opened up to people.  I’ve made new friends.  I’ve experienced kindness from total strangers.  I’ve learned that it’s OK to ask for and accept help from others.  I have experienced love like never before.  The day we found out that the diagnosis was probably cancer, I climbed up in the hospital bed with my husband, put my head on his shoulder, and cried.  We said things that have needed to be said for a long time.  We forgave each other.  We fell in love again.  It was beautiful.  Caring is beautiful.  Kindness is beautiful.  Love is beautiful.

If, by some miracle, he pulls through this, it will be beautiful.  We will have a messy, loud, chaotic, beautiful life.  If he doesn’t pull through this…  I can’t even begin to imagine the beauty he will experience!  So, no matter what happens in this crazy, messed-up life, I’m going to keep looking for the beauty, and I’m going to keep on keepin’ on until I get to experience that ultimate beauty for myself!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

Don’t be anxious?

He spent an entire week in the hospital.  The first three days were lots of waiting.  The last few were test after test after test.  It was definitely cancer, but they needed more tests to determine what kind it was.  I went to the hospital, then I went home.  Every. Single. Day.  I tried to explain to the boys that Daddy was sick and had to stay in the hospital for a little while, but how do you explain cancer to a five-year-old and a four-year-old?  I couldn’t make myself sleep in our bed, so the boys and I camped out in the living room – with the baby in his bassinet – the entire time he was gone.  I stayed strong until they went to sleep, then I would lose it.  I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.  I hyperventilated.  I was nauseous.  I barely slept.

And anxiety attacks.  Oh, the anxiety attacks.  I had recently started a new anti-anxiety drug, because, after an incredibly difficult pregnancy and losing my father less than a month before, I was having attacks almost every day and sometimes several times a day.  I couldn’t deal with them at all.  Talking didn’t help, and I was mostly alone with the boys anyway, so I picked up my phone, opened my Bible app, and started reading.  I read and read and read.  Then I kept reading.  “God loves you.”  “Don’t be anxious.”  “God will give you peace.”  “God will give you the desires of your heart.”  My anxiety started to fade away.  When it came back, I’d start reading again.  I’d read, then pray.  I would read until the anxiety was gone again.  I have never in my life felt that kind of peace.  It’s amazing.  Now, I’m not saying that this is going to get rid of everybody’s anxiety.  I still take the meds.  BUT I have a peace that I didn’t have before.  Two months later, and I haven’t had another attack.  I start feeling anxious, I start reading.  I read until I’m calm again.

Peace is a funny thing, I guess.  I don’t like this crappy situation, but I can’t change it.  Even so, I know that we’re going to be OK.  God’s not going to leave my side.  When I turn to Him, He’s there.  And He always will be.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  – Philippians 4:4-7, ESV

Wait. What?

I got to the ER in time to hear the nurse telling him that the oncologist would see him the next day.  The oncologist?? He’s here for some bleeding and a gallbladder attack.  Why does he need an oncologist?  What did I miss?  If I’d been there sooner, I probably wouldn’t have missed that important detail, but somebody had to stay home with the three little ones!  The little ones…  They aren’t even old enough to remember him if he doesn’t make it!  I don’t have a job!  I just had a baby, and my daddy just died.  What do you mean, “The oncologist will see him the next day”???

The oncologist.  My husband, who is more active than I could ever imagine being, had an appointment with an oncologist.  Ugh.  I really don’t like that word.  Fortunately, the oncologist was very compassionate and super knowledgeable.  But even this super knowledgeable doctor couldn’t figure out what type of cancer my husband has.  It’s in his liver, but is it liver cancer?  It’s in his lungs, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t lung cancer.  It’s been over two months, and we still don’t know what type of cancer it is.

For two months, I have watched my healthy, active, talkative 195 pound husband change into someone who can’t talk without coughing and can’t walk to the bathroom without almost passing out.  I’ve watched him go from 195 pounds of mostly muscle with a little bit of a belly to 225 pounds of skin, bone, and fluid.  His liver is only functioning at about twenty-five percent, so he can’t get rid of the extra water.  He is so swollen, he can’t walk.  And there’s nothing I can do to help.  He’s going to die, and I can’t change that.

The Journey Begins

This is the beginning of a long, difficult journey for my family.  I hope to see the beauty in this very unbeautiful situation, and I hope you can, too!  Thanks for tagging along!

“‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”‘ – the things God has prepared for those who love him” -1 Corinthians 2:9