It’s not easy writing about something so personal. I initially thought it would be straightforward but it’s not. This blog has taken me so long to write. There’s been times when I’ve felt motivated to write but then sat in front of the lap top not wanting to type the words you’re about to read because it was too painful to process.
The last six to seven months have been tough. Towards the end of September dad’s health got worse. He’d just had a great 6 weeks of good health, riding the buses in London, going to fruit and vegetable markets, riding a bike at Center Parcs. It seemed like everything was going so well. But then in a matter of 7 days we began to notice that some things weren’t right and dad began to feel really unwell. He had noticed his stomach begin to enlarge and it felt heavy to walk around. It soon began to affect his breathing too.
Upon a routine visit to see his Oncologist, she noticed how much discomfort he was in and sent him straight to A+E. Those calls are the worst. When you’re far away and you can hear that someone you love is in pain and struggling to breathe. I can’t begin to describe how I felt. Sick, is the only descriptive word I can think of. I felt sick that my dad was suffering, sick that there was nothing I could do to help. I felt like every recent call had indicated that dad was deteriorating, quickly. While at hospital they drained 7 litres of fluid from his stomach. Can you imagine carrying 7 large Evian bottles of water in your stomach? All of us were shocked that dad had been carrying this much fluid. The cancer was now causing irritation in his stomach causing this accumulation of excess fluid and it needed to be drained.
The next day after work I crashed on the sofa. I’d had enough, my head was full, my emotions were frazzled, I couldn’t function. My eldest son, Malachi (12) came over to me and just held my hand. He didn’t say a word. In that moment he knew, mum didn’t need words, she just needed someone to hold her hand. His sensitivity to my needs during this time has been unbelievable. That weekend we had been praying together with dad and Malachi told dad that as we were praying he saw a picture of an umbrella. He said he sensed God was saying to dad that He would protect Him from the rain. He even picked out a verse from the Bible about God’s protection and told his Grandad ‘you see, this is what God is saying to you.’ I’m seeing this adversity shape my son into a young man who is confident in God’s love for him, regardless of the circumstances.
For a few weeks it felt like wave after wave of sorrow and despair.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
Deep within me I knew I needed God and that was what my daily conversation with God sounded like. I need you God, I need you God, I NEED you God! It was crystal clear to me that I couldn’t walk this journey without Him. From the depth of my heart – I hoped it would connect with the depth of God’s heart and cover the depth of my family’s pain.
I’ve seen mum and dad cry out from the depth of their hearts. I think sometimes when we cry out to God we also become sensitive to hearing his voice. I’ll never forget the very first appointment we had with Dad’s oncologist. They had told us to come prepared with questions. That morning was a sombre one. We were still just getting our heads around what was happening. As I put breakfast together Dad walked in and said, ‘listen, I’ve got something to tell you all. This morning I was praying and I asked God whether I should ask the doctor how long I have to live. God told me ‘ I’m the one who breathed life into you, so I’ll decide when its time for you to come home. Why ask the doctors?’
We all stood there amazed with what dad was saying. He spoke with such confidence, trusting in the words he had just heard. The depth of God’s heart had reached the depth of his heart causing a deep courage to rise. This meant even if wave after wave was to crash against our hearts, there was an impenetrable connection with God that kept us anchored in hope.
Deep calls to deep.