I’m wordy. And this is wordier than usual for me. And it’s probably more for me to see in black and white than it is for you to read, but for whatever it’s worth…
A few weeks ago I hit a wall. I didn’t physically hit an actual brick and mortar wall, but for all the effects I suffered it might as well have been a wall I could touch.
Some of you are new friends and you may not know that on December 22nd of last year my father had brain surgery to remove a grade IV astrocytoma or glioblastoma multiforme. I’ll save you the Google search. He was diagnosed with the most malignant of all primary brain tumors. It’s a hateful, aggressive, ridiculously fast growing monster that his doctors described as being like pancreatic cancer of the brain. Merry Christmas to us. I am not even going to try to tell you what my daddy is to me. At this point in my life, all of my emotions sit just barely beneath the surface and I can’t afford to spend the day in a snotty heap on the couch, so for the sake of time and emotional energy, let’s just say we’re very close.
His diagnosis certainly brought us to our knees, in more ways than one. Everything that we as a family said we believed about God and Who He is and what He can do and what He will do became more than just nice words, they became the Truth we relied on to help us get up every morning and make it to the end of the day. I was supposed to be at my folks’ home for two weeks to celebrate Christmas with my family. Instead, I ended up staying for nine weeks to try to help my parents as we all attempted to navigate through this new and terrifying course.
My husband had to go back to New England at the beginning of the year so I had to “single mom it” for awhile. One day my husband called me at the hospital to tell me that he had started the process to try to get an assignment back where my parents are so that we could be with my family for whatever is around the corner. Wow, right? Can you imagine a more loving, unselfish gesture? Want to know my response? I was mad as fire. I’m from the South. That’s how we get mad sometimes. I knew my parents would forever feel responsible for shortchanging his career. He’d never know how far he could have gone if he hadn’t interfered with the original plan and I felt like maybe one day he’d resent me and my family for it. I thought he’d always wonder “what if.” He, understandably, was a little surprised at my reaction. Frankly, so was I.
I never expressed this in words I said out loud, but I think part of my response was also the feeling that such a drastic decision implied that he thought my dad’s situation was going to get a lot worse and that it might end badly. Sure, I knew and understood the prognosis, but we had to leave room for hope, right? In a way I can’t explain or even fully understand, this felt like an admission of defeat before we’d really even begun to fight.
The next day my husband called again and said that the very day he’d sent his email requesting an assignment back home, he had already been the topic of discussion at a meeting between two upper level decision makers. My husband was the top choice for a position at, you guessed it, the base in the town where my parents live. Another job, the one that a mentor of my husband’s really wanted him to get, wasn’t even going to be available when we needed it to be. After several phone calls back and forth between advisors and those “in the know,” my husband was able to convince me that the job he was being offered in the town where my parents live would not hurt his career and he’d still be on track for future assignments.
We were going home! I felt like God had been working behind the scenes, just as he had been all throughout this crazy time we were experiencing. It seemed to me that the timing of the events proved that God had planned for us to come home even before we even thought to ask. I felt so humbled and touched that He would allow me to go back home to be with my family, especially now that we needed each other more than we ever have. I was overwhelmed at His generosity and felt like I had been given a gift handpicked by my Father who loved me.
Eventually, the kids and I had to come back to New England. My husband had gone back at the beginning of the year and I had to put my responsibilities as a wife and mother before my responsibilities and desires as a daughter. I didn’t want to go, but didn’t see that I had a choice. To make matters worse, the weekend before I left, my dad was hospitalized and his chemotherapy and radiation treatments had to be stopped. I couldn’t even feel like at least I was leaving things in a somewhat stable condition. At least I knew that I’d be moving home in a few months. Still, it was tough to leave and I halfway expected to go through a rough patch and a time of adjustment when I got back to New England. However, I wasn’t prepared to have my world turned upside down yet again and to run full-speed headfirst into an unforeseen, unwanted, brick wall that left me hurt, bewildered, and wondering if I even knew what I believed anymore.
Coming up, “Part Two: He Un-Answers”