My anniversary was on Thursday. 21 years with the same man. But when I walked down the aisle I wasn't just committing my life to John but to being part of his entire family. While John and I formed our own family we also became part of one another's family. So for 21 years I have not just been a Hardacker in name but I have been part of the Hardacker family adding another mother, father, sisters and brother. Having started dating when I was 17 that means I have been part of this family for over half my life, 23 years to be exact.
So when the surgery was scheduled to remove the cancer invading my father-in-laws body on my anniversary there was no question I would take the day off to spend with the family, my family. Unfortunately John had classes all day and it was agreed he couldn't come but the wonders of modern technology would make it easy to keep him in the loop as the surgery progresses.
We had all just gotten comfortable in the waiting room having finally eaten something after a very early morning arrival and were relaxing and enjoying catching up with on each other's lives while putting together the border of a puzzle we found in the waiting room when the surgeon arrived to talk with us. It had been barely 2 hours since we left Don for a 4-7 hour procedure and when she suggested we talk in another room we knew it wasn't good. The cancer had spread outside the stomach and they would not be proceeding. From here on we will only be managing the cancer, trying to keep it at bay as long as possible until the inevitable occurs.
It was hard to hear. It is hard to say. My first thoughts were that God is in it. Don is a wonderful godly man, he knows the Lord and is an example to all who know him. His future is not unknown but secure and good. However, I admit it was hard to see exactly where God was at that moment. All I could think about was how hard this was going to be for Don, what a difficult death this would be. The nurse who came to talk about it with us, who specializes in this type of cancer, called it an "ugly" cancer. It all felt very hopeless.
But home alone I searched for God and found Him. He is in this. I don't know what will happen the next few months or years. But God knows. And I know He will be with Don every moment. While going through this difficult process God will be there bringing Don comfort, loving him and caring for him. And while it may seem hopeless from an earthly prospective with God all things are possible, full of hope and we can still believe in a healing that is beyond any doctors skill.
When Jake was in Panama a few weeks ago I prayed each day that the team would see God working but also prayed that when they returned home they would continue to look and see where God was working each day as God does not just work on missions trips but everywhere, everyday. As I thought about the journey Don will be on going forward I had the same thought. What is God doing? How is God using this experience to further His kingdom? Can we look to see what He is doing everyday?
I think Thursday was a gift for Don. We all agree he didn't really want this surgery. He is at peace with his future and is ready to see his Lord. This day was for all of us, the family, who are not ready to let him go. Sort of like God letting us do In-Vitro even though His plan was for adoption. I needed to firmly close the door on my own ability to have children before I could open my eyes to adoption. We all needed to firmly close the door on the possibility of a quick surgical healing before we could open our eyes to what God is about to do. Whatever it is.
I am excited to see how God works in the coming months and years. How will Don and his faith affect those around him? What will God do, where will He be working each day as our family looks cancer in the eye and sees only the Lord and His plans.
The pastor who came to pray with all of us before the surgery reminded us of Psalm 139. God knows us and knows everything about us, we are not alone. A wonderful reminder as we go forward.
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord."
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
"you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well."
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them!"
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."