Six years ago today, I received a phone call from a doctor who told me my son had an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor. These anniversaries wander into my mind periodically: his first brain surgery (6/30/14), his first bout with aphasia (strange!), first radiation treatment (8/7/14)…
And I’ve noticed that even whole months evoke memories and emotions, some difficult and some sweet…
June is when Joe first mentioned his symptoms in 2014. June was also his first hospital stay (too little sleep for either of us, with the addition of nausea and loss of mobility for Joe). Joe’s craniotomy to biopsy the “lesions” was June 30. So June brings memories of confusion and stress.
July is when we received Joe’s diagnosis of glioblastoma (shock and utter disappointment). Many phone calls, appointments with various doctors, and probably way too much research on my part.
August: Joe’s birthday—he turned 21 that year and our neighbors Tim and Jill stopped by with 21 mylar balloons. We realized in a new way how thoughtful many of our neighbors are. Also in August he began radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and physical and occupational therapy. We found a new routine.
October: our family road trip to Morro Bay soon after his diagnosis—friends and family sent us to the beach for a week so Joe could see some great sunsets, one of his favorite things. It was refreshing to get away from the medical stress. Also in October, three years later: the beginning of his quick decline in 2017. We celebrated my birthday in his hospital room. Having his two sisters there cheered him, but aphasia was a problem so he couldn’t really participate in the conversation.
November: Joe continued to decline… he died on the 23rd.
December, of course, brings Christmas without Joe. He is always missed, and we are still trying to figure out how to celebrate without him.
But Christmas is not about Joe, it’s about Jesus. We celebrate the great news that God came down to be with us (Immanuel!). God’s great gift of true peace means all our suffering is bearable, because it is temporary.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18