One October Afternoon

by - October 02, 2012

I tiptoe into the room and gently wake my napping girl. She's smiles the pudgy, dimpled waking from glorious, toddler slumber. She reaches her arms to me as she does each day at 2:05. We load her half-sleeping body in her car seat to pick up her brother from second grade. Noelle is with us, too. She's four now and wakes more earthly than angelic, unlike her younger sister.

We sing Sesame Street songs all the way there, and talk of recess and the new concept Mr. Cook had cooking in his oven that day in Adrian's class on the way home. They bounce and bound into the house, hungry for a snack, where Mike has been perched on the couch under a blanket for the past three weeks, each day getting weaker, thinner, grayer.

When I have the kids anchored to the kitchen table by milk and crackers, Mike takes me outside to the front stoop. We sit on hard, cold brick steps, and he breaks the hard, cold, ugly news.

It's cancer.

A doctor sits at his desk, file open, and dials, changing a patient's life forever. How many calls did he have to make that day I was in the carpool line? Mike was home alone when our phone rang.

Are there scarier words in the English language?

Inside, it's Friday afternoon, and our children are catching their second wind.

Here on the steps, it's a precipice into a dark unknown and we catch our breath and each other's hand.

We linger quietly with our thoughts rattling inside. We smile wan smiles as if to bolster each other, and slip back through the front door hoping for the life we'd always known.

It's been ten years since that beautiful October afternoon when Mike was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Six months of chemo. Two months of re staging, and then a bone marrow transplant. A full year of treatment. A scare or two since, that turned out to be a glorious nothing.

Never has a decade been such gift.

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.   ~Anne of Green Gables

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  1. Glorious news, Dawn, and I celebrate with you and Mike.
    As to your question, "Are there scarier words in the English language?"
    Yes, these are those words:
    "Dave is dead; he died this morning."
    I've now lived through both and, the second sentence has a finality about it the first sentence can only hint at.
    Does it get easier? I don't know; what does easier mean? It's been eleven months and each day the sound of nails being driven into a coffin ring in my head. It's a constant battle between giving up and claiming God's promises.
    So far, God is winning.

    1. "He's gone," would definitely be scarier, I admit. Especially with three babies still to raise. And it could have very easily gone that way; he was desperately sick by the time he was diagnosed.

      God must have known I didn't have it in me. And at some point, Mike, seeking solitude, left our busy house to sit in the car to pray. He asked God to spare his life long enough to raise his children. It's definitely our best YES yet.

      Love to you, Sandra at TCF. So glad to hear God is winning.

  2. Oh Dawn- I'm stopping by your blog for the first time from Getting Down With Jesus. And am so grateful that I did. I feel like I'm in the room with you waking your daughter, on the step with your husband, etc. Thank you for bringing me there and sharing this journey.
    This past May, our Sr Pastor, where my husband works as an Associate Pastor, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He is responding well to treatment....weak and exhausted. Your writing gives me even more of a glimpse into his journey.
    Enjoy this October afternoon.

  3. Dawn, Much, much love to you. I think now of all the ways that you and your husband pour out your lives for the Kingdom. So grateful for the ways He has healed and worked through both of you. You are a gift. Love you, friend.

  4. What a glorious anniversary to celebrate! Thanks for sharing this testimony of God's goodness and grace. What a beautiful family!

  5. Congratulations. It's a glorious tribute, celebrating a glorious decade.


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