This afternoon I checked my Facebook from a year ago. This is what I found:
It’s been a challenging 36 hours. Thursday, Richard became more weak than ever before. By evening he was exhibiting very serious new symptoms. He did not want to go to the hospital concerned he would not ever make it home again. We prayed and listened for Divine promptings. Richard had not been able to speak very well but suddenly energy poured out of him and he said God was telling him “it’s not time” and to “fight”. He then handed me the phone and said call 911. After several hours in the emergency room, the conclusion was his blood sugar dropped to a dangerous low (he has no history of blood sugar issues). He was treated and released. The ER doc found another area of great concern needing further testing not related to ALS or low blood sugar. Prayers are appreciated for proper diagnosis and wisdom regarding treatment options. He continues to gain strength and feels so much better! Being aware of the steadfast love and presence of God is truly transforming.
Our lives changed that day. The doctor asked us, “How long has that lump been under his chin?” My response was, “What lump?” As I looked over at Richard lying on the hospital bed, I could see it. His appearance changed so much over the previous year, we hadn’t noticed. His tongue had been paralyzed for months. He thought the degradation of his tongue and rapid weight loss caused the lump he noticed while shaving.
After some tests were run and the results were back, the doctor came into the room and nonchalantly announced, “The apparent squamous cell carcinoma tumor identified a year ago has grown significantly.”
Horrified, I spoke up, “What tumor? All evidence of a tumor was ruled out through biopsies last year.” The doctor replied, “The CT scan shows a large mass at the base of his tongue in the same area identified last January. You will need to see a specialist for further testing as soon as possible.”
After the doctor left us alone, Richard’s response was, “It is what it is. There must be a reason for us to find this now. Perhaps it will help someone.”
It did help many of us. It helped us realize how little time we had left with him and he with us. We were able to live life even more intentionally from that point forward.
So today, I chose to pick up my favorite leash hand woven by Richard and me, call for my walking buddy Shiloh and set out to enjoy a beautiful, sunny, 60 degree day in February. As I walked I decided to go stroll though the nature preserve Richard and I enjoyed frequently throughout 2015. Instead of pushing a wheelchair, I held my collie close to me as I remembered those walks.
I remember Richard and I marveled at how the preserve changed during the year. We enjoyed the barrenness of the post winter thaw. We saw the first signs of spring as tender green shoots pressed through the muddy ground. Focusing on plant life cycles, we anticipated buds emerging to fill the preserve with endless shades of green and multi colored wild flowers blooming in the weeks to come. We watched for and counted deer each time we visited this sanctuary. Soon we would see fawns welcomed into their families.
We enjoyed watching the fawns grow and the spring evenings turn into warm summer nights. Taking in the sights and and sounds of this beautiful place, we lingered with nature, God and each other talking about life, love, dying, and God. In the fall of 2015, we knew each visit to the preserve could be our last one together. He was getting weaker and more frail with each passing month.
Often during our walks as the seasons changed, Richard would sing The Byrds song:
“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep”
We laughed everyday in 2015. He had a really great laugh. I miss hearing his laugh. I miss laughing with him.
We cried together, but not everyday.
Today on the trail, I remembered Richard’s laugh and started to cry. I remembered him singing silly songs on our walks to make me laugh, and I smiled through the tears. As my tears continued to flow, Shiloh became unsettled. I stopped for a few minutes to reassure him and take in my surroundings. Though there are no leaves or flowers yet, there was beauty in what remains. The hope of spring, a resurrection of sorts, was alive all around me.
There is a time for everything. Today, I was given another day to live. It was a day healing came through remembering and weeping over what was lost. It was a time to allow sacred memories to bring smiles through the tears. Today, I was reminded, resurrection comes only through death.
It’s a great day.
Thanks for stopping by.