This week we celebrate Fathers all over the world!
Men who are worthy of celebrating. Men that may have not earned it but are honored, because if they didn’t exist then their children wouldn’t be here today. There will be mourning as some will experience their first Father’s Day without having their Dad to call on the phone or hug. There will be aching for those who live across the miles from their Fathers & can’t celebrate them in person. There might be irritation for those who have absent Fathers & are able to not think about it year round until social media is blasted with pictures of Dads & Father Figures. But there will also be a heck a lot of joy! & rightly so.
This year we found out that my Dad had multiple areas with skin cancer cells [all but one have been removed]
Then just last month the suspicions that he had prostate cancer were confirmed. Not only did he have it, but he likely has had it for the better part of a decade & its aggressive.
My Dad has cancer.
How do I write about him for Father’s Day without him thinking I’m writing his eulogy?
I don’t think it’s possible. So Dad, if you’re reading this [I know you are] just hear me out.
My Dad is someone who I truly consider my first love.
I believe everyone should experience the love of at least one person, who just “gets them”. & for me that person is my Dad. He is always there for me when I need him. Challenging me, caring for me, loving me fiercely, & being my best friend.
As a kid riding in the car with him to get pizza & asking him to tell me about how different things in the car worked. Having no idea what he was saying, but always being so impressed with how much he knew, about everything.
Running across the soccer field after my games, into his arms.
That one time I asked him to help me turn a fitted sheet from Goodwill into a pair of pants & he did.
The countless times I curled up in his lap & he would just rock me.
Singing for the first time in front of people with him…the Joy Joy Joy
Him always saying proudly to whoever could hear “That’s my girl!” when I did something that made him proud. Which was often.
When I told him that I had lost my virginity before marriage & he cried with me.
Walking & singing me down the aisle on my wedding day.
Singing to him that I would always be his baby, during our dance at the reception.
Going with him to the construction site for “take your daughter to work day”.
Listening to records together & watching him sing. [one of my favorite things ever]
Calming me over the phone from countless panic/anxiety attacks.
Holding my babies for the first time & getting teary eyed.
This is my Dad…& he has cancer.
The words just echo in my head if I stop to listen. & even though the consensus seems to be that prostate & skin cancer are nothing to be super worried about. Cancer is a big scary “C” word that is trying to threaten one of my favorite people on this earth & that causes emotion in me. obviously
Now we find ourselves waiting for his appointment with the Oncologist. The appointment where he will find out if the cancer has spread anywhere else & what the treatment plan is. I realize that the feeling in my stomach & my emotions mimics those I experience when riding a roller coaster.
The last 6 months has been the beginning few swoops of the ride & then came the click click click up the hill…unknown excitement ahead.
Now at the top of the coaster hill , our family is waiting to take the plunge, with no idea what the ride ahead has in store.
A pit in our stomachs that we can’t describe completely, because it’s not excitement & it isn’t pure fear….it’s just the waiting, the anticipation…
This morning I was Facetiming my Dad while he waited to go back to the doctor office for the bone scan after being injected with dye needed for them to see what they needed to. He looked tired & emotional. I asked him how he was feeling? & told him my observation.
He explained that he was just in pain & that the urologist’s office was no help. He had gotten short with the receptionist when he realized the Dr wasn’t going to help him find relief & afterwards he felt bad.
I said, it makes sense, you don’t have control over most of this. There is so much information, so much unknown, & you are trusting people to take care of you that you perceive not to care about you. You’ve heard stories of people who’ve slipped through the cracks of our healthcare system & died. That’s scary.
& fear is freaking loud!
So now you have fear, questioning, waiting, & now pain all making noise in your head. It’s loud & chaotic.
Snapping is not okay, but it’s understandable.
Then I asked him…you know what’s louder than all of those things though, right?…starts with a W…?
He replied in true Dad fashion, naming random things that started with the letter W, that he knew weren’t what I was talking about. This is the fun game we play.
I chuckled. Nope!
Worship is louder than all of those things. It calms & quiets. Administers peace beyond understanding. It’s powerful.
Immediately I felt prompted to play worship for him. I asked him if I could & he agreed.
I said I’m going to play you my current favorite….the song started & he chuckled.
Me: What? You don’t like it?
Dad: It’s two lines that they sing over & over again for 8 minutes! I listened to it the other day when you sent it to me & I liked the first 4 minutes & then wondered if there were any more lyrics…but there weren’t.
Me: the song is not meant to entertain you. It’s meant to help you worship. So when you are talking with God, singing to Him & every time a worry or doubt pops in your head the simple lyrics combat each one. What about this? Nope! What about that? Nope!
Dad: oh, I will have to listen to it with that perspective.
I started it over & turned it up. We started singing together.
I have a habit of changing a word or two in a song to make it more personal. It then shifts from being just a nice song with a good message, to a proclamation, a statement of faith, or an anthem of surrender. My heart & spirit then respond, usually in the form of tears.
This time was no different, when I changed the lyrics from: It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.
To: It may feel like he’s surrounded but he’s surrounded by you.
I’m not trying to be awkwardly or overly spiritual here. But I am trying to be as authentic about my beliefs & how I respond to things in life the best I can.
Changing that one word in the song reminded me that God is surrounding my Dad. The amazing Dad whom I love more than I will ever be able to express in one sitting. My Dad who has cancer. He is surrounded by God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, AND all the people who love him dearly.
He may feel afraid of the unknown at times. Because he’s human & it’s normal to doubt, question, & feel a bit scared.
Friends, we need to stop shaming each other for our processes. You may say that being afraid isn’t what God wants for us or that we should never doubt God’s faithfulness or ability to heal. This is where I would say that you may have missed the mark. Like I’ve done plenty of times & will continue to do for the rest of my life, so you’re in good company.
God is not scared of our processes. He cares about where we land.
Where do we plant ourselves & devote our effort? What message do we wholeheartedly believe in & pass along to others? This is what matters.
Our processes will change as we grow, mature, & experience new seasons. But if we land in hope. If we land in trusting whether or not we understand. If we land in a place that says I don’t understand, but that’s okay, God, I know You’ve got me through it all. This is what matters most, in my opinion.
The cool thing about it, is that once we allow ourselves to live in the freedom to process how our human selves were made to process, our processes end up changing! We start trusting quicker, finding hope faster, being able to identify the good in the crappy situations a little more easily…but none of it’s forced. God’s not following us around snapping at us as soon as we doubt, saying I told you not to do that. Just trust me. Who cares if you don’t understand, just do it. Nope. That’s not the God I’ve experienced.
The God I’ve experienced is so full of love that I can’t even comprehend the amount of love He has for me. I try to compare it to how I love my own children, but I know He loves me even more than that. I sometimes challenge myself to think about it like this: What is the most love you could ever imagine feeling? You have the picture? Even feel it a little? That loved comforted feeling…yeah, He loves you even more than that.
Mind blown. Cannot comprehend. Beyond my understanding. Love.
That kind of love is not threatened by me in any way. I cannot mess that love up, become to much of a burden for it, run out of chances to keep receiving it, make it stop or go away.
Neither can my Dad or his process.
God knows us. He made us complex, with all of our emotional responses. He didn’t make us that way so that we could constantly have to chide ourselves for those responses. I whole heartedly believe we can wield all our emotion & use it for something good. Great even!
So here I am Friends, wielding away. Processing for all to see. Arms up in the air & waiting for what twists & turns this ride has in store.
& Dad, I’m believing you will live a long life & with God & the support of your loved ones kick this cancer’s booty. I’m not burying you yet. You love me.
Let’s keep moving forward together, Lovelies.
The Mess in Me Honors the Mess in You