The milestones of life and death for me are separated by two days. The life milestone, my birthday, is coming up. I am, of course, thankful for another year – just as I am for each and every day, for every smile and every hug.
Halloweens are bittersweet for me now. It is a death-reminder milestone for me, being the day of my diagnosis in 2008. I was in a daze after coming home from the hospital that afternoon and going trick-or-treating with my babies. It was their first time and felt very much like it'd be my last.
Yesterday, I read back in my journal to where I was then, just before my diagnosis. Though I feel so very far from that time, when my world was upended – there's lots that hasn't changed. On 10/31/08 I wrote:
"My Lord has given me the better result at every step in this process. It's what I've prayed for – one step at a time. And He has delivered. May it continue. So, I keep moving through this dark tunnel, trusting that I will come out into a good place on the other side. That all of the ugliest options will gradually fall away and that the root cause is manageable.
I pray this not just for me - out of self-centeredness and fear – but for my babici (babies). They (including Jacquelyn) deserve more/better. A dad…the best one that I can be."
And so it has been. As it turns out, my cancer has been more than manageable - truly a blessing thus far. Still, I worry all the time about what would happen if I received the dreaded (but not unlikely) news that my cancer is back. Surprise, surprise – I don't want to die just yet. I am still working at the best dad thing.
Life and death are much closer to each other now. I fear what happens if all of that energy on the positive side of the ledger isn't enough.
That is the heartbreaking injustice faced by too many others, for whom it is no blessing at all. I see the disease all around me. Tragically, we all do. Yes, I am extra-sensitized to it and yes I maintain relationships with folks similarly stricken – but cancer is an insidious mighty force. It is not just a menacing dark cloud over me but a gray sky that covers everything and touches everybody.
So…two years later, I find myself (similarly and simultaneously) - scared and overwhelmed, faithful and confident, pleading for fairness while hoping for grace. I am infinitely more grateful for the life and death milestone that is each day. I am also learning to boldly ask God for the blessing of more life in each and every case. After all, there's not a one of us that doesn't deserve it.
P.S. - Join the New Jersey Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for a 5K walk at PurpleStride New Jersey at 10 a.m. on November 7th! This event will take place at the beautiful Mack Cali Campus in Parsippany, New Jersey. It would be great if you could walk with us. It'll be lots of fun. But, if not, you can still contribute to the cause of pancreatic cancer research and awareness by helping me reach my $1,000 fundraising goal at:
(sorry you'll have to cut and paste)
Thank you always.