Like a thief, leukemia is claiming my father’s body. The surprise is that it has also been an unexpected gift.
When my father’s oncologist recommended discontinuing treatment, he told us that Dad could have anywhere from a week to three months left with us. Big sigh. We’re Christians, and in our hearts we know that my father will be able to leave his ravaged body behind and go on to an existence free of pain and disease. In his heavenly father’s presence, he will experience a bliss that we on earth cannot begin to imagine. Still … it is hard to let him go.
Home hospice has allowed my father to stay where he is most comfortable. His bed was placed in the living room facing large wall of windows that overlooks the back yard. Squirrels and birds entertain him as they visit the bird bath or the many bird feeders. He reads and listens to soothing music.
Nearly four months later, my father is still enjoying life. Friends and family have made many visits and lavished him in prayer. My father has always been a homebody, so he is completely in his comfort zone. He also enjoys getting out once in a while. We load him into the car with his wheel chair and a portable oxygen tank and he enjoys every minute of the adventure. He has gone for “walks” in the park and attended my niece’s birthday picnic.
A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22
In an odd way, this ravaging disease has almost been a gift. He treasures every moment with his family and has connected with us on a deeper level. He has experienced little pain and tolerated the side effects cheerfully. I have never seen my dad more positive. He seems to be enjoying life more than ever as this one slips away from him.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
When I wasn’t able to make the trip to North Carolina on Father’s Day, my Dad was a bit disappointed, but suggested that we could be together next year to celebrate. My stomach fluttered, not wanting to hope, not wanting to let go of hope. My parents have amazed me with their cheerfulness throughout this process. In the end, it is all still good—better even. Instead of finding fear in the face of death, we are finding only peace and a greater enjoyment of the time that is left. An unexpected gift, but one of great value.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27