It has been one month since Bud’s last infusion. Tomorrow we head back to Providence for another hook up and to wait for the slow, steady, drip to do its thing. And while I wish it weren’t so, there’s nevertheless, a missing stirring within us; a longing for this unexpected blessing of family.
Family, defined by Mirriam Webster as – a people, or group of peoples, regarded as deriving from a common stock. Or, this from Dictionary.com: all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.
And our ‘common stock’ descends from a ‘common progenitor’ called cancer. Because, family has a way of morphing and changing according to our needs and experiences as we drift through the various seasons of life. And in this season of life, we are strangely and unexpectedly related to this community where everyone has everything in common. Cancer.
Every visit to the infusion room brings new members into our household of faith. New faces with new stories waiting to be read. And new heroes, all bearing the battle scars of that thing that binds us together. There’s the Viet Nam vet, fighting pancreatic cancer, who’s smile exudes confidence – “Here’s how I see it; if I live I get to stay here and if I die I get to go and see my wife. Either way – I win.”
And the woman with breast cancer, widowed for ten years, with a twelve year old son who’s embarrassed by his mother’s bald head. And yet her face is a portrait of joy and hope.
And the woman who also has Lymphoma. As we sat side by side waiting for the bags of chemo to finish their jobs, we talked about books, and family and faith. Before we left she handed me a book she’d just finished reading and said, “Here, I think you’ll love this as much as I did.”
Some of the patients, like Bud, bear none of the typical signs of cancer. No hair loss. No weight loss. No grey skin pallor or dark circles under the eyes. They are the ones who appear to be winning their battle with cancer on this side of the river. Others, from all we can see, may win their battles on the other side of the river. Yet all are heroes. The doctors, who tirelessly wage war against this horrible disease. The patients, who bravely submit to a rigorous routine of treatments and endless invasions of privacy. The family and friends who sit by their sides, sharing their journeys, as if they were their own. The nurses who cheer them on with love and mercy and much needed injections of humor. And even the receptionists who welcome them. Heroes everyone! Joined at the heart! Family! Those amazing people who have everything in common. The unforgettable ones. All loved by a God who loves them well. Because, it’s hard to walk out of the infusion room as an atheist.
By these we are humbled.
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. Psalm 16:3 ESV
And tomorrow we get to visit them! Again.
Love and joy, Bud and Sandy