Friday, September 18, 2009

"What Ifs"

One of the constant battles I had to fight during Hannah's illness was a recurring chorus of "What Ifs". When we first found out she had a brain tumor, it was "What if the surgery causes brain damage?" or "What if they can't get it all?" Once she got through the surgery with no lasting complications and they "got it all", the "what ifs" changed to "What if the chemo makes her really sick?", "What if the radiation causes new health problems in the future?" or "What if her cancer comes back?" After the cancer returned, the "what ifs" multiplied exponentially...especially with the location of her new tumors on her brainstem and spinal cord..."What if she loses the ability to walk?", "What if she loses her vision?", "What if she starts having seizures?" or even "What if she doesn't survive?"

I reached the point where it seemed like I was spending all my time dwelling on the "What Ifs". And God had to gently remind me that this was not how I should be spending my time. Instead, I needed to give him the "What Ifs" and begin savoring every moment I had with Hannah. Not that it was was not easy at all...and it required a continual, conscious decision to put the "What Ifs" into His hands and live one day at a time. I had never really understood the concept of "one day at a time", and had certainly never lived it, until that point. As Hannah's health deteriorated, it became one hour at a time, and sometimes even one minute at a time. I really think it was that focus that made the last couple of months of Hannah's life not only survivable, but even, at times, enjoyable for us.

People often commented on our "strength" during Hannah's illness and death, but as I've said before, this is a misunderstanding of God's grace. What appeared to be strength was actually human weakness bolstered by total dependence on God. A couple of weeks ago, we had the privilege to share Hannah's story at a church in Mountain Home, and after the service we visited with a gentleman who had lost his wife to cancer after many years of marriage. Our visit was brief, because there were many others waiting to speak to us that night, and a few days later, he emailed us to share a little more of his story. He ended his email with this statement:

"God in His infinite wisdom created us with the ability to survive these heartaches."

What a simple, yet profound statement! And I am daily discovering that it is true. More on this thought tomorrow....


Melissa McCone said...

O yes, the "What Ifs". It is hard to not think about the "what ifs". That's right...give God your "what ifs" and savor those moments with your loved one! Your post are always so inspirationl to me...always at the right time. That is a wonderful statement too. You guys are amazing!

Lynn said...

I felt your words. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have struggled with playing the blame game (blaming myself)so many times, and the "what ifs" are always lurking around the corner waiting to pounce. I know that all the "what ifs" in the world will not change the circumstance with my daughter right now, but I still struggle from time to time.