Out of much heartbreak, comes the recognition of many blessings.
My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 7 years ago. Things have been stable for quite some time, until recently. I've kept most of this process very private until now, and while I won't share specific details, I have experienced some very intense emotions that have needed to be sorted through this past week.
I've been calling and checking on my parents pretty frequently in the last few months with the advent of some lab changes requiring my father to see an oncologist...again. I had been so sad that I hadn't been able to be in NY to help them with this difficult process, and I would tell my husband that I wished...in moments like this...I lived closer to just be there and be a help, a support. We hadn't planned to make a trip this fall, and were hoping to hold out until spring, but I really felt like we needed to make the trip this fall...even if it was late in the season. And so we did.
From the hour I set foot in my childhood home, my sweet father began having agonizing arm pain. We knew it was likely from the cancer. I medicated, I gave counsel, I calculated dosages, researched, pulled medications due to drug interactions, and I rubbed my father's aching arm while he grimaced from so much pain and I felt that cancerous lump; just sitting there on his arm, causing so much pain. It brought me to tears, not for me, but for this good, good man who has dedicated his life in service and love to his family and God and church. I cannot tell you how intensely saddened I was to know that such good and wonderful people suffer this way...and it was my own father. No one ever prepares you for what it's like when it's *your* parent who's life is fading.
We have spent this week getting the pain under control, going to appointments, x-rays, oncology visits three hours away, having blessings, labs drawn and more than one moment of bad news that has brought my eyes to tears, only to have to push them away immediately so I can be strong for my family. I couldn't let my husband hold me for fear that I would lose control and worry my already worried family. Someone needed to be strong for them, to have a plan, to think objectively and be the little family nurse advocate with the doctors. This has been a very emotional and spiritual trip as we have all pondered the mortality of my father.
But through all of this, I have come to be even more aware of our loving Father's plan for each and every one of us. My father had been told that this illness was something that he had agreed to endure during his mortal life on earth...and I've thought a lot about this. My father has always loved children, and has had a very special place in his heart for them; I have never known a man to have such loving tenderness and concern for their well-being and future as he has. And so when I think about my father agreeing to suffer these awful, mortal pains...I can almost guarantee that he agreed to suffer this trial, if only so that one little child could be spared the same suffering and trials. This really brings me to tears, because perhaps it could have been my child, or my sister's child. But I *know* he would willingly and gladly bear that burden in the stead of a sweet child. And somehow....this brings so much comfort to me.
I have experienced other things this week that have saddened me and opened my eyes to the hardness of the world, the cold and uncaring attitude that Satan has leaked into the hearts of so many people. Satan, that awful perpetrator of lies and deceit, of all things evil and cruel...he will find any way he can to worm his way into any heart and destroy it. I cannot express my gratitude for having the plan of salvation; knowing that families can be together...forever. Knowing that He will bring peace into my heart when the world cannot and will not. Knowing that there IS a plan for my dad; whatever that plan may be.
Today, as my parents, David Norman Owens and Alison Hart Brown Owens celebrate 36 years of marriage, I am eternally grateful for the years of service they given to their children, to provide us with a loving home where a patriarch and matriarch live together in love and harmony, and support and care for each other in sickness and in health....until it's time for eternity. What a blessed example!
We have a plan for my father and treatment, and while there is no crystal ball to tell us what the future holds, there is a loving Heavenly Father to assure us that whatever happens here on earth, He has counted our good deeds and provided many blessings for us here and in the life to come.
I am so grateful that He knew the wishes and desires of my heart to help my family and aligned this chain of events perfectly so that I could be here when they needed me the most. I have been happy and grateful to have had this opportunity to be here and serve the people who have given me the most in this world.