Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Pain and Suffering of a Cronically Ill Family Member

If I wrote a novel, I couldn't put into the words the pain and suffering that my father has endured over the past eight years since he was diagnosis with pancreatic cancer (and won).  I think when it first happened we understood that he would get the Whipple surgery; do chemo, and then radiation. Then, if he survived all of that, he would be on his way to healing.  However, it's been a living nightmare the last eight years.  One thing after another--a mystery stabbing pain in his belly that brings him to his knees.  A paralyzed stomach, therefore, all he can eat is a handful of items that mostly consisting of Ensures and high-calorie soft snacks that go down easy. But even with food restrictions he still deals with extreme nausea and vomiting almost daily. He also has a bile duct that does not work, so he is living right now with a bag hanging off of his side collecting the bile that was previously poisoning his body.

And here's the thing, he's a believing, professing, and God fearing man.  He has people praying for him every day and they have been for the last eight years.  He is gentle, kind, generous, smart, and funny.  He is young (50 at diagnosis and 58 now) but, he has suffered more in the last eight years than anyone I've ever met.  I know there has to be days he imagines he is better off with Jesus, although, he's never said that.  He never remarks, poor me, why me, why can't I get better?  He trusts that God is in control - and that he is not.  I have cried out to God over and over and over again, heal my daddy – bring him back to us.  But the silence from heaven is deafening. 

As I type this, my jaw is tight, my throat has a lump in it, and my eyes are watery.  I'm sick and tired of my dad being sick and tired.  The hardest thing I’ve ever endured in my life is watching my dad suffer.  I'm tired of not being a "normal" family.  I'm tired of canceling plans every time we make them because he's so sick he has to go home and laydown.  I'm tired of watching people enjoy their parents, take vacations, or even do a simple family dinner.  I’m tired of feeling jealous.

I encourage you today my friends, slow down. And if you have the honor of a parent still alive, call them, hug them, and spend the extra money to bring them on a family trip with you. Give your children the pleasure of REALLY getting to know them.  And maybe you should (re) get to know your parents as well. Maybe you need forgive a parent for hurting you in the past?  Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness from a parent? I understand that sometimes the grown child and parent relationship can be strained from past hurts, abuse and mistrust.  Trust me, I get that.  My husband’s abusive father was killed in a car accident five years ago; we have walked that difficult path as well. 

Tonight I will cry myself to sleep again, begging God to continue to keep my father alive--all the while begging him to take him if it means eight more years of suffering and pain.  It is a difficult predicament to be in as a child of a father who is her hero.  God, he is such a good man.  The best.  I’ve learned more about life from my father than anyone.  I’ve learned how to give freely, how to trust, how to believe, how to care, how to take charge and get things done.  How to be confident in myself and how to follow my dreams.  But most of all I've learned how to be a parent from watching my precious father.  He loves his family fiercely; his grandchildren are his most-precious treasure.  His grandchildren see him in bed more than they see him out of bed, but they love him just the same.  Their deep devotion to him makes my heart skip a beat.  Thank you God for giving us this special time--extra time, to love, enjoy and relish in the time we do have together. 

So tonight hug your children, husband, wife, sister, brother, father and mother a little tighter.  Be present when you’re in the moment.  Allow the time with loved ones to count.  And most of all, trust that Jesus has a plan, even if we never understand the plan on this side of heaven. 

Keep fighting my precious father.  I love you.

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