Cancer Journey · Grief

On That Day

East Pier Lighthouse, Presque Isle State Park
November 11, 2014

“Bless the Lord oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship His Holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

I’ll worship Your Holy name

“The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes” 

~Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons

On the days Austin had MRI’s (brain scans), this was my prayer. No matter what happened that day or how our lives changed, I wanted to remember that God’s heart was kind and His love for us true. Before we walked the hallway from Ronald McDondald House to Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, I would sit on the bed of that small apartment and pray for God’s peace to settle me and his truth to comfort and hold us.

Waiting to be taken back for his MRI.
December 10, 2018

Then came December 10, 2018. It was like any other MRI day. Except this time was different. A couple weeks earlier, I had sat in a snowy Target parking lot on a phone call with the oncologist about hospice and palliative care. Austin’s tumors were growing. We were running out of options.

The scan went as expected and later that afternoon, we waited in a tiny room for the results. Then it came. The news that there was nothing more they could do, the tumors would take over and Austin would die soon.

I escaped. Many times before, when we received awful and overwhelming results, I had wanted to leave the room — to run away somewhere I could scream or cry or both, but I always forced myself to stay — to ask questions, gather information, find out where we go next. I didn’t need to do that now. I just needed to GO.

I remember leaving the hospital that day thinking this is the last time, wanting to thank so many people and wanting to be home and desperately wishing this wasn’t the end.

To be honest, I don’t remember singing in worship that night. I remember a pain so real I felt it physically rip through my body. I remember wailing and fighting with reality until I finally slept fitfully from exhaustion. In many ways, that day was the worst of my life. To be told my son would die, most likely soon and I would have to watch, helpless to stop it. To be the ones that delivered the fateful news to Austin and his brothers and sister. To know that Austin would understand death was coming and feel sad and confused. It was a terrifying day.

No, I don’t remember singing. But I do remember I wasn’t alone. And six months later, when Austin met Jesus face to face, I was able to sing again “it is well with my soul.”

This day will likely always be difficult, traumatic memories flood in and grief washes over. But I still remember that song, and I will bless the Lord again.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

Psalm 103:1-4 ESV

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