It never ceases to amaze me how much courage cancer brings out in people. It is a fearful thing to have those words spoken over you, and the treatment regimen alone would make the strongest of people tremble. Yet, we do it. We put one foot in front of the other and walk the path laid out in front of us. Facing medical procedures with a stiff upper lip or in my case, many screams and tears, is part of the process. Each person handles the pressure of the disease in their own way. Family members are just as individual as the patient and each has their own way to deal with the trauma. Caregivers, those who are closest to the patient and directly deal with the physical toll, need as much courage as the one who is suffering the pain and humiliation of the disease. It is a horrifying journey to take, especially when there is nothing more that can be done. The patient and the caregivers look at each other and they know. The fear hangs in the room like air to be breathed. All facades of strength fall away. Attempts to have faith wane, and as much as the desire to remain tough is there, it is so very hard to do. Reality comes in like a flood, and with it the tears of helplessness. Watch and pray. And in the last moments, both of those seem inadequate.
Then this bravery rises up. Against all the circumstances. Against all the feelings of dread. Against all the physical realities. Against all the knowledge you don’t want to know. Against all exhaustion. Bravery. Knowing what is coming, fearing it, and stepping into it. The outcome is already decided and bravery comes to allow it to continue to the end. These are deep moments. Sacred ones. Holy ones. There are no answers in these times. No pat clichés will work, but bravery rises anyway. It is not unlike when Christ was in the garden the night before his death. He knew. He asked his friends to watch and pray. He sweat blood. He bargained and wanted to avoid the pain ahead, but he remembered you and me. Bravery rose and he walked his path. His family and friends were confused, and scared, and for a while courage left them. But then, bravery rose.
Facing death is a fearful thing. Watching someone you love face it is worse. There is a deep thing that happens within broken hearts. It bonds and connects. To each other. To those you love. To God. There are no answers. There are no words. Nothing matters. And that is okay. That place of shared pain doesn’t require words. Those who are in the midst of it understand one another without them. The tears are the prayers…the silence is the offering. Surrender is the result. Knowing you have nothing more to give and giving it up anyway. It is the place of total trust in God…a place that requires courage, and great bravery.
For my friends Buck and Johna who are walking this road as I write. Much love…many prayers…great bravery.
Today Buck was released from his earthly body and now walks in freedom with Jesus by his side. Please pray for Johna, Megan and Jordan as the Holy Spirit hovers over them while they grieve this loss.