Many of you might remember that last fall I posted that my brother Harold had been diagnosed with Stage Three lung cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation which was, of course, not easy. My brother is twenty-one years older than I am. I am the seventh and final child in my family and interestingly I was born on my parents’ twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. My brother has always been a second father to me. I have depended on him throughout my life; the thought of losing him last year was devastating to me. I begged God not to take him from me.
Today, my brother celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday. For this birthday blessing, I praise God. Each day is a blessing because none of us are promised tomorrow. Each day is God’s gift to us. Cancer makes that fact abundantly clear.
My cousin Libby, pictured between my brother and me, is also a cancer survivor. She had a rare form of uterine cancer when she was twenty-eight years old; she just turned seventy-six in November. Birthdays are blessings, indeed.
Of course, one day we all leave this earth and go back to God from whence we came. That is inevitable. It is just the cycle of life. This reality should motivate us rather than depress us. In the limited time that we have on this earth, we should be motivated to do good, show compassion, love fully, forgive, and be thankful for the gifts and the life that God has blessed each of us with. It is not easy, of course, to always feel happiness. Sometimes the darkness falls heavily on each us and we dwell in a dank and bottomless abyss from which we fear that we will never escape. But, we will because there is God who loves us and is never far from us. God is with us in our struggles; God is with us when we are down in the abyss. He is with us in the sunlight and in the dark of night.
My mother Gracie Lee died of spinal cancer in 1993 at seventy-two years old and my sister Sara Jo died of brain cancer in 1991 at forty-nine years old. Trust me with I say that those were the darkest days of my life losing my precious mother and my beautifully amazing sister. Cancer is cruel; it is ugly and it is unrelenting in its devastation. I begged God back then to spare my mother and my sister. I blamed God when they died. I told Him that I wasn’t going to speak to Him ever again. Like a good father, God let me rant and He waited with open arms when I ran back to Him. His love is unfathomable, it knows no boundaries. His love and His forgiveness is all-encompassing.
Today, I sat across the table from brother at his favorite restaurant and watched him enjoy his Chicken Tortilla soup. I remember him when his hair was black and now it is white like snow. I remember when he used to drop me off at my elementary school over fifty years ago, now. Time doesn’t wait for any us. Today, I lingered in the precious moments of this day, my brother’s seventy-ninth birthday, and thought just how blessed we are on this earth to have life, to be able to survive the suffering, to be able to laugh in spite of the pain.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. There will always be that inevitable ending looming in the distance. I choose to let that fact motivate me to celebrate each rising sun as a blessing.
I turn my heart toward God, lift up hands, bow my head and praise Him for this day and for all the days to come. I give Him my fears and my hopes and trust that no matter what is to come He will be with me, that He will lead me and those whom I love Home to that place where there will no longer be any suffering. I believe that one day I will see my family again in that place beyond this plane of existence.
My heart is filled with thankfulness.
Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews