So I haven't written in a long time, mainly because life has been really, really stressful, and I figured no one needed to hear about all of it. But since Jayne asked, here is the cliff's notes version.
Work: I'm working two jobs, and am beyond exhausted. For three months I was an assistant teacher/floater at the preschool our church runs. I worked 40 hours a week, but it was supposed to be a short-term gig. Ultimately, they asked me to stay on, and three weeks ago they promoted me to one of the two office staff. So now I work 10-6:30 five days a week, plus I still have my part-time college teaching gig. I was trying to pull back from my volunteer duties at church, but seem to be pulled back in each week. (And next Sunday begins VBS... which I'm in no way ready for...) My husband is still unemployed, and hasn't had a response in a long time, despite applying to more jobs than we can even count. I keep praying that God provides something for him soon, because I am so ready to go back to only working one job, and really need my husband to feel good about himself again. We trust that God is fully in control, but we are so ready to be done with this season in our life.
Family: My parents called in the middle of last week and told me that they have made the decision to place Mom in the care of Hospice. Essentially, medically there is nothing more to be done. The oncologist's only suggestion (actually, his only suggestion for at least the last six months) was aggressive chemotherapy. But considering the progress of Mom's cancer, there wasn't any real promise that chemo would improve her quality of life, and wouldn't necessarily prolong her life much, either. So a hospice/home health nurse has been assigned and is beginning to help Dad with Mom's care at home.
I go back and forth between being at peace and being an emotional wreck. On the one hand, I've been expecting this ever since Mom's diagnosis 4 years ago. I thought it was going to come that Christmas, when things were going so horribly. Knowing that Mom's suffering might finally be coming to a close and she'll be able to go home to Jesus is not a scary thought. But on the other hand, I'm in emotional turmoil.
I told my husband the other day that I'm grieving, and have been for 4 years, in a sense. When Mom first got her diagnosis, I grieved for Mom's pain. I grieved for the loss of a potential future that I had expected to have with her. I grieved for the spiritual and emotional turmoil my parents were in.
But then things improved, Mom was doing fairly well, and was well enough to help me plan our wedding and was my de facto wedding coordinator. When things started to get worse earlier this year, I feared that all the progress she had made might be slipping away. Once her leg broke and she needed surgery to repair it, I was sure of it. As things got worse, my grieving changed. It has been mainly about the loss of our relationship as it had been, the loss of my best friend as she was unable to talk with me the way we used to do, and as it got harder for her to be the person I have known for 30 years.
Now, with the decision to go to hospice, I'm grieving again, in a new way. Now, it's grieving the loss of hope - at least for this life. It's grieving the suffering that I know is here - for Mom, for Dad, for my brother and me, my grandparents, and all those who love my parents. It's grief for the suffering that I know is still to come as we approach the end. It's grief for knowing with certainty that Mom will never live to be a grandmother, that she won't be there if and when God allows us to become parents. It's grief for the future that Dad won't have with Mom.
This new grief is more certain, less rooted in my natural pessimism and more in medical fact. Perhaps that is what makes it so much more gut-wrenching. Before, there was always the hope that we could keep the cancer at bay for a few more years. There was the hope that I was looking too much at the negative, in the hopes of sparing my heart the trauma of a sudden turn-around. But now, we know that the medical options are done. It's now solely about trying to get ahead of the pain to help her have a better quality of life for however long she has left.
I don't fear for Mom in death - I have confidence that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord," as Paul said so beautifully. But I dread the slow walk to death, for her and for all of us.
So this is where we are. It's been a hard, hard year. But I will still rejoice in the LORD, will praise Him for providing for us. I know that I know that I know that He is good, and that He loves us, and He is wholly in control, even of Mom's cancer.
I could never do this without Christ, or without the amazing man God gave me to two years ago. He is my partner and my strength, always ready to hold me and pray for me. I am so grateful for my husband, for his strength, and his encouragement.