We are spared the ability to see into our future for two very good reasons. First, we would not believe what we see. Even if God Himself came down to attest to forthcoming events in our individual lives, we would cover our eyes and run in denial. And we would do that because of the second reason we are spared the ability to see into the future. That being, the future is often too frightening to face.
When I started writing the column for the Woodstock-Towne Lake Patch, I was beginning my characterized by successive promotions, pursuit of advanced education and the rewards of having earned a fairly respectable reputation in my field. My husband of 21 years and I basked in the high school adventures of our only son. We loved living in this community and cherished many friendships nurtured over the years. Overall, my husband and I rejoiced in the fact that, after two decades of hard work and discipline, we had achieved a comfortable level of security and stability as we entered the autumn of our lives.
Then, in April of last year, I was forced to retire early due to the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Previously an annoyance, my condition worsened to the point where I could no longer keep up with the demanding career. But my spirits still soared because I knew I would finally have time with my husband and son, something all too rare in former days. from in May and spent the summer . August rolled around and we helped our son move into his dorm. A whole new world awaited him, and we rejoiced in this milestone.
In September, my husband could no longer ignore some nagging symptoms and sought medical attention. After multiple tests and procedures in October, surgery in November and further testing in December, that has metastasized to distant lymph nodes. That means the cancer is Stage IV, inoperable and incurable.
Our goal then turned to driving the cancer monster into a fast and long-term remission through aggressive chemotherapy. and 24 hours later he was in the Cardiac Care Unit at with cardiogenic shock—a life threatening heart condition. He miraculously survived the event and even regained full cardiac function, which was not expected. But a week later, he was hospitalized for a dangerously high potassium level. Again, he recovered quickly and completely.
Last Wednesday, we were eager to resume chemotherapy, minus the one chemo drug that was heart toxic and deemed to cause the problem earlier in the month. But less than 24 hours after this second round of chemo, my sweet husband was carried off by ambulance to Kennestone Hospital with excruciating chest pain.
Today is Sunday, and I will soon leave the house to bring Lewis home from the hospital. His heart and other functions are good, which is welcome news. But we do not know the source of the chest pain this time, and we do not know next steps for chemotherapy.
Our son is moving back home today and will now commute to school. His daily presence will be most uplifting to his father and me, but we are saddened that his carefree life away at college was cut short. So much has changed, so quickly. And our family's life will never be the same. There is simply no going back to our formerly secure and stable past.
Most days, my family and I reek of optimism and bravery. We are Team Locklin, after all, and cannot give up regardless of what life throws at us. But today was different. The emotional rollercoaster demanded its toll. I whined to my friends and snapped at my sweet husband after he criticized me for sleeping too late. Let’s face it, we are both on edge. But from now on he can criticize me all he wants because he is fighting for his life and needs a target for his frustrations. Being that target is the very least I can do for the man whose quiet grace kept our marriage alive during those difficult times faced by every couple.
I debated sharing these latest details of our family story with you. But I decided I had to, because I’ve written so much about the events of my family’s life throughout 2011—the good and the bad. And you continued reading, even emailing me with encouraging messages and details of your own difficult journeys. Know that these messages mean so much to us, and that Lewis and I have come to think of each reader as a friend.
The National Health Institute hosts a helpful webpage called Family Matters. It is full of information and advice for families battling cancer. As I read through the various sections today, I found myself exclaiming, “Yes, they get it. This is exactly what we’re dealing with!” Sometimes a simple affirmation of one’s experience is therapeutic.
On tough days like today, I head to various websites and online support groups for affirmations. I also turn to family and friends, no longer worried about burdening them or making them feel uncomfortable. I pray a lot and seek quiet corners and moments to feel God’s comfort and reassurance. And I write a lot. My writing voice is not as carefree as it used to be, but it is hard to reflect on lighter matters when one’s heart is full of grief.
My hope is that some part of my writing voice still resonates with readers and I ask your patience as my family and I travel this difficult road. I promise to continue writing about a range of topics, but know that I will periodically share the hard-to-hear details of our journey.
Adversity is a natural part of the human experience. Coping with adversity— effectively or not—is very much a family matter. Live every day to the fullest, my friends, because none of us know what the future will bring.