Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What is hope?

Where to start? I don't know how to write this. I don't want to write this. Yet I feel that I need to write this. I don't know why, but I just need to.

Last year dad used the word that no one wants to hear: cancer. It was hard to hear that word. But there was hope. One quick out patient surgery and he would be okay. That surgery ended up being far more invasive and took about 16 hours. But there was hope. 

Dad was on the mend. He went on vacation then back for a check up. He hasn't left since. But still, there was hope. Chemotherapy was started and there was hope for a recovery. In time the neck brace he wore came off. He was taken off of the oxygen and he could breath on his own. Complications from the first surgery got better. He got out of bed and could stand for a short time. He even managed a few steps as he learned to use his legs again. Hope was growing. Then things turned again as the cancer spread. But there were more treatments to be done. There was hope. 

This summer saw a long period of Chemotherapy. It was hopeful. He got sick a few times but there was hope. The chemo ended last week and then came the words that no one wanted to hear but we all, in a way, knew were coming. 

The first text was short. “Worst news possible”, followed by a “will call later”. That call came around 3pm last Wednesday. I got up from my desk at work and sat in a corner as hidden as I could be as my dad told me how the cancer was spreading too fast and there was nothing more that could be done; he has about 2 months left to live. My eyes filled with tears. I didn't know what to say. How do you respond to that? All that I could manage to say was “dad, I'm so sorry”. We hung up and I sat there for what felt like hours. Paralyzed and unable to move. My head in my hands and tears hitting the floor. 
Where was the hope? 

I took a few days off of work. I spent a day on my own as I began to process. Then I spent the weekend with dad and at his place cleaning it out. 

Over the past week I've been overwhelmed with the thought of loss. Sitting on the floor of his house looking at photos I realized I will never sit there with him again. I sat in his car and knew I'd never drive with him again. Star Wars comes out in December-a franchise that I've seen all of in the theaters with him. This one I'll see alone as a tradition ends. Then I thought of bigger things. He'll never see me get married. He won't hold the grandchildren I would one day give him. He'll never read the book I want to write…So many experiences that I always imagined him being a part of were immediately gone. Hope seemed shattered. 

Where is the hope?

A friend sent me a text with the verse Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE.” 

That damned word: hope. Just how do you feel hope when the world around you feels hopeless

But it is there. That hope is an ever present hope. Hope is more than some word that Christians made up to comfort one another. That hope is alive. That hope is precious. That hope is something that cannot be taken away by anyone or any circumstance. But that hope is something that must be sought. 

I've found hope in knowing that I will be with him again one day. I've found hope in knowing that the reason the loss is so great is because of a great relationship with dad; the pain of loss means that there is something beautiful being lost. I've found hope because while he may never hold my future children, the lessons that he has taught me are lessons I will one day teach them. I've found hope in knowing that as long as I live, a piece of him lives on - he's shaped me into the man that I am today. 

I found hope because the alternative sucks.  I don't want to go through these next few months without hope. So I'll keep looking. And I will cling so tightly to every single shred of hope that I can find. I will desperately hold to the Hope of the world, Jesus. The One that has defeated death. And because of that HOPE, I will get through this season. The hope will not make it easy or take away the pain. But it does, and will continue, to make it bearable. 

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