Today is Saturday, 5.November.2022.
Lately, this is what I have done: walked around and declared the day and date. I say lately, but what I really mean is lately since Friday, 28.October.2022 at just before 8 p.m..
But to understand Friday, 28.October.2022, we must go back. Back to before I pushed pause.
Daddy started really hurting on 2.April.2022. That’s the day he was supposed to sing at his younger brother’s memorial service. Except Dad couldn’t sing, so he just talked through the words. He’d already lost ten pounds. He was already exhausted. He was already fighting and didn’t even know against what.
On Wednesday, 8.June.2022, I pushed pause. If you were here and if you were close enough to me to have me hand you my journal, you would turn to Wednesday, 8.June.2022 and you could read and see for yourself. On that day, this is what I wrote …
Daddy has a bucket list. There are two items on it and he’d like to do them this year. One thing on that list is that he’d like to do a ride with Randy “Rabbit” West over Grandfather Mountain. That’s in September. The other thing is that he’d like to bag a deer with Uncle Grant in the Druid Forest. That’s even later.
But you see, Daddy doesn’t just have a bucket list. He now has a thoracic oncologist.
Sadie and I took him supper. Bean soup. Cornbread. Roasted potatoes. A Snickers bar he doesn’t have to share with anyone. Sadie made him a card.
“How are you doing?” Daddy asked me.
“Good and then, not so,” I said. Then that tight thing happened with my throat and I couldn’t speak because tears and words have never fit good when they come that way together.
On 30.June.2022, I gained a new set of vocabulary words: stage four squamous non small cell lung cancer. It had already metastasized. After four rounds of every-21-days chemotherapy treatments, and one week in hospital, I had another vocabulary word: hospice. The original tumor was the size of a peach in June. By Tuesday, 27.September.2022, despite the strongest chemo the VA could throw at it, the cancer had metastasized even further and the original tumor had entirely enveloped his spinal column. It had grown to larger than a grapefruit. Daddy came home on hospice care on Thursday, 6.October.2022 at 5:30 p.m. They pumped him full of morphine to get him down the country roads to the house he had built with Momma about 48 years ago.
I remember making his hospital bed with sheets and chux and the blanket with the little, yellow #23 school bus picture on it and thinking, “Dad will die here.”
And so he did. Three weeks and one day later, on Friday, 28.October.2022, just before 8 p.m..
And ever since then, I’ve been trying to push play on this thing the still-walking call life.
Death is an interesting occurrence. Typically, it only happens once, and then it lasts for what seems like a very long time.
But you see, I’m also a believer. I believe that God is holy and has done, is doing, and will do everything good and holy. People are not holy and good because of sin. But God still loves His creation, the people, and the plan from the beginning was to send His one and only sinless Son to take the punishment we deserve so we could be reconciled to God the Father. All this happens through faith, which is a gift of God.
There are so many things I don’t understand about how this works. So many vocabulary words that are beyond me, that would require more words of explanation and references and quotations from great theologians.
All I know is that in the pain of the pause, I have a comfort and a peace that is beyond what I have the strength to muster on my own. I have this hope that means a part of me is here on this earth in this flesh, and the better, redeemed-by-the-very-blood-of-Christ part of me is already written in a book for all eternity.
I must figure out how to live between the knowledge of those two parts.
Today is Saturday, 5.November.2022.
Today, I will just push play and live.