How long do I have and what do I want to do with the rest of my life? The doctor wrote on my chart that “the patient is now in remission”. That’s about the best news a stage 4 lung cancer patient can get I would think. Yet, from having dealt with cancer remission with my wife’s brain tumor, I know that remission does not mean cured. The swiftly dividing, deadly cells could signal their reemergence at any time. A cough, a tired feeling, losing a couple pounds even though you’re watching what you eat could all be harbingers of things you would rather not imagine.
So what’s a man to do? I find the 5 principles we tried to live by during my wife’s illness, as powerful as they have been, was good at first but now they seem to have lost their effectiveness.
Face the brutal facts but never lose hope.
Know that God is in control.
Count your blessings.
Take one day at a time.
Live every day to the fullest.
And in the end you still die. And while you’re here you struggle. Is there a satisfactory answer? It seems anyone who lives long enough is going to suffer in a big way even if it’s only with the infirmities of old age. And you still die, although at a later date perhaps death is a bit more palatable.
So when a man feels like I do today, what do you do to get out of the funk? Drugs or alcohol are one alternative. But they don’t last and improve nothing. Spend time with someone you love? But she’s working 24/7 and I have the flu. If she caught the flu now at the height of tax season, it would be devastating to her business.
We’re struggling at work. I blame myself for not figuring out what to do about our current situation. It all rises and falls on leadership and right now I don’t feel I’m leading adequately. We’re at that stage where everyone thinks everyone else should be handling their business differently and I should be holding everyone besides themselves more accountable. It’s not pretty. We’ve lost some key people who can’t be replaced with a new hire. It will be a process, not an event, before we can get our rhythm back.
So Deborah just dropped by on her way home from work. I made her a quick dinner. After losing Nancy a little less than a year ago, I am still not quite right. I’m not sure why I feel as deeply about Deborah as I do. I fear I’m projecting many of my feelings for Nancy on Deborah. The deep devotion I am experiencing toward Deborah and her family I would have thought only comes over time and through shared experience. But for me, it’s as if I awoke one morning walked in the kitchen and found it sitting on my kitchen table. It’s much like an unexpected gift I think. Some I’m sure would think differently. I don’t.
But there’s another side of the relationship or at least the potential side of the relationship that gives me pause. It’s like taking an evening stroll in Africa, the plains antelope are in the distance, the night birds are just beginning to sing, and the sun has just dipped below the horizon. How beautiful, how wild, but do I belong here now? A lion may be lurking in that clump of grass just ahead. Do I enjoy the beauty and soak in the ambience or do I run because I don’t know what may be lurking in the shadows.
But I know I’ll walk on. What I don’t know is if I’m being foolish or wise. A few things I am sure of. I know I must not give the cancer too much of my mind, I can’t let the opportunities at work consume me, and regardless of the dangers of being hurt I will love those I choose to care about the best that I know how.
Be they foolish or wise, I know those things at least are good decisions from where I stand on a pleasant evening with night birds singing loudly with full throats. What lurks in the gathering darkness no one knows for sure, only that God is right there with me.
I walk on.