I whispered into the stillness of his slumber, “I wanted to grow old with you.”, as hot liquid poured down my cheeks. Blazing liquid sorrow. You’d think the tears would run cold by now. They do not. The pain of loss to come digs deeper in as the time goes on with him living dying. Tightrope walking in the dead of night on blistered, oozing feet on the east side of a Cat 5 Hurricane named Pain-grief in one hand, hope of Jesus in the other, balancing me out-one shuffling step at a time. Take a step. Wait a minute. Another step. Pause and hold my form through the wind gust of new trauma. That’s living hopeful when death is always coming. You can’t go around it. Can’t ignore it. Can’t act like it isn’t there. And even if you could, it will always show itself near, ripping the veil off your delusions. “I AM DEATH!”, it shouts into the searing pain. “I WILL NOT BE IGNORED!”
I wilt sometimes beneath the hot stinging breath of death’s spewing shout. Fall asleep to life to just not feel, occasionally. Stay awake for hours-turned-days from anxiety of watching his ailing body drag his soul into eternity.
And then I hear him breathe in the night. He awakens and reaches for my hand, sighing as it finds its rest in the grasp of my own and settling back into rhythmic sleep. Hot tears pour onto my pillow, then.
What will I do when there is nothing but lack and lonely?
I do not know.
It is a question I cannot answer because it is a grief I cannot bear until I am living it. I could not have told you in 2015 what I would know now, just as I cannot tell you now what I will know some time later. All things in their own time. Only and always.
I do not know what is coming. I do not know if I will watch his spasming body gasping without success for air, again. I do not know if I will walk into another windowed room in a hospital, his eyes staring vacant and unblinking into nothingness. I do not know if he will recover should he have grand mal seizures for more than an hour, again. I cannot quiet anyone’s fears of what if or answer pleas of how long do we have, because I don’t know those answers. But here is what I do know:
Jesse loves his kids well. So well. They won’t know until they have their own children how wonderful a dad he is to them. And though he won’t likely get to watch them parent, or see himself in the eyes of his grandkids. Though he probably won’t hug his boys on their wedding days, or on the days they become whatever they grow to want to be. Even though his chances of walking his little girl down the aisle are slim and the odds of him seeing her as a mother even slimmer. Though we are told he won’t get to see how she picks a husband who loves her madly because of the way he has loved me madly. Though they say we will not grow old together. Though his body wastes away while I watch, helpless to conquer his cancer. Though I know he is dying. I also know that Death? Death is powerless. And though it may shout out with rage at me every day for the rest of my life that it will not be ignored, all of its vile screaming is drowned out by the sound of a dying Christ’s last, earth quaking, rock splitting yell, “IT IS FINISHED!”. Death-forever quieted and conquered. Muted. Swallowed up in victory. Stingless. Jesse’s soul -healed and whole, ransomed from the power of the grave- is already forever alive, because of Jesus. Only and Always.
The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.
50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 15:45-58 nlt
**We had an appointment at MDA Monday, May 20, with Jesse’s dr there. First of all, his tumor looks stable in his February scans compared to his last MDA scans. Seizure activity is not an indicator of tumor growth, so we expected this news. We are relieved to have it confirmed, nonetheless.
-We now have a referral to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of seizures, and are waiting, once again, for an appointment to come available. Once we have met with the specialist, we hope to move quickly into having the seizure mapping done. We can make no further plans until that process is completed.
-Finally, obviously, we have had an emotionally exhausting couple of weeks. Lots of fear hangs in the air here right now. Life for us has shifted a bit as we work to find a new normal of care for Jesse, since it’s unwise to leave him alone knowing his seizures are not properly controlled just yet. We deeply covet your prayers for the smaller seizures he has multiple times each day to calm and for his brain to be protected against the recurrence of grand mals, and for our fears to be suffocated by peace.**
I’m amazed at the power in your words. Jesse is in my prayers of course. You make me realize that it is not just Jesse suffering. You’re living with all the faith I wish I had. The children will have many memories with everylittlejot of how love should be. Praying for all of you
Praying for you always…
You have our constant prayers for Jesse, you and those beautiful kids. Letting God hold your family, walk along side you.. and knowing He is…that’s remarkable and precious.
Thank you for sharing. And updating.
Curtis & Paula
Prayers are going up daily for controlling the seizures, healing and strength for all of you. Y’all are loved.
Your writing cuts into my heart with the bare truth of pain and grief coveredi in the love and surety of Jesus. Praying for peace, and strength for your days and rest in your nights.
With love, Connie Hambrick Anthony
Bro Joe and I pray often for Jesse, you & the kids. I truly can’t imagine how hard life is each day….for you, in particular. Only God can give you the strength, peace and deep down joy of living life in spite of the headache! And that is our prayer for y’all…as well as healing!
We love y’all and thank God for your tremendous witness!
Ashley, above that should have said heartache……NOT headache! 😉
Praying for Jesse, you and your lil family. I love to read your words. So much Faith.
Your faith, Amazing and inspiring! Touchdown Jesus! (A song by Tim McGraw)
You and your family are always in our prayers
My heart goes out to you as I agree in prayer with this requests.
I pray for all of your family. I hope someday you will gather your writings and put them in a book. They are so inspiring and I know they would be a real help to someone going through similar circumstances.