Four Years of Brain Cancer

I am not what some would call, an ambitious person. The things I have done in this life I have done simply because they were the next thing which presented itself to me that needed doing. I am ambling about, sometimes forward, often pausing to look left and right until I am dizzy, when I bump into something, nearly face plant from the tripping over it, actually. I’m a gawky walker, often lifting my legs a bit higher in step than one would find necessary for a casual stroll. So writing came to me in this way, as well. A side effect of my husband’s brain cancer, really. It came to me in the night as I tripped over the parts of him spilling out of his person onto a dirty hospital floor. Words poured out unbeknownst to my rational, lucid self whilst I sat, a bag of crumpled flesh in a plastic chair of avocado green in a tiny room, my dying husband beside me in a bed draped in white, which seemed suspended by wires rather than resting on a frame, with creaking wheels beneath.

Last night, on the four year anniversary of that first sleepless night, I climbed into bed reluctantly and did not sleep in any consistent fashion. I awakened repeatedly, certain my emotional overwhelm would spill physically from my mouth in the form of a cheeseburger eaten much too late at night. I watched the hours tick by, mentally reliving four years ago as the numbers shifted. The smell of the stand alone ER. Jesse’s crumpled, confused frame in a waiting room chair. Texting my family that everything was ok, that Jesse was just severely dehydrated. The expression of the doctor when he told me Jesse had brain cancer. Looking at the first images of Jesse’s brain, left side overtaking the right and lit up bright white with tumor. Texting my family to tell them he had brain cancer. The way a wisp of hair gently floated across the face of the nurse who ran out to me with Jesse’s paperwork as an ambulance took him to the main campus of a local hospital, blonde strands moving in lazy contrast to the rapid pace of my heart. My sister’s voice as I turned under the overpass, tailing the ambulance to the hospital. My own voice sputtering out the words to her, “I wish I could melt into yesterday when this wasn’t my life.” The sounds of his body being moved from gurney to bed. The doctors telling me he would not survive the night. The texts I sent to a handful of people to ask for prayer. People showing up in mass to the hospital. Telling them out loud that God is still on His throne. Calling Jesse’s dad to tell him his son had brain cancer. Having to charge my phone repeatedly because it could not keep up with the onslaught of contact. The peace. I remember the peace. Indescribably consuming peace.

I remember every smell, every sound, every face (though, if you know me, you know I don’t remember most of the names) of every place we inhabited those first few weeks. I remember picking up my phone to check the time on September 7, 2015, and seeing the contents of my mind dumped out into my notes. I remember posting them to this place, laughing at how I had told Jesse two weeks before that I would never use the blog he insisted on setting up for me. I remember sharing the link to my (then, infrequently) used Facebook page, and not being able to keep up with the responses of people afterward-a pattern I have been surprised to see continue these several years since. None of this makes sense to me, still. That Jesse lived. That Jesse can speak and think with such mass in the part of his brain controlling those processes. That so many have stood beside us in prayer and support for what feels an impossibly long time. That we have been allowed to come alongside the wounded and weary in such an intimate way these four years.

There are plenty of hard things about this I don’t understand, either. That our kids have been forced to live in this trauma. That Jesse still has seizures. That Jesse still has tumor when God is capable of healing him in full. That we have asked in earnest, for years, for miraculous healing and not received it. I can never say in any definitive way why we face the things we do, why healing comes to some and not to others, limited as I am in foresight. I know our suffering has purpose. I know we are soul-healed by the blood of Jesus, and no earthly disease can ever bring its ruin to that kind of health. I know there is a God, and I know He is good and faithful and near. I know He is Sustainer. I know He is Comforter. I know He is Healer, even when the healing we seek to our earthly bodies does not come. I do not know why you may be aching right now, beloved. But I know Who to run to: Jesus. And I know What to do with this life: to Hesed love (a kind of all-encompassing love we do not have human words enough to adequately define) the souls around you. I am finding I do not need to know the answer to every why, when I know the answers to the other questions.

May you find comfort and hope right where you are tonight, dearest. There is a God, and He loves you so.


 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-7