What a difference a year makes. On this day last year we were preparing for the 5th round of chemo. The leukemia in his bone marrow was under control, but we still had a long way to go on the lymphoma. On this day most of the discussions were about Tyler's pain control. The morphine had stopped working, and nothing else seemed to be effective.
A year ago today my parents had just arrived in Israel, and were on their way to The Wailing Wall with written prayers to place on the wall. They were wearing their "Fight To Win" tee shirts, and getting a lot of stares. Apparently several people thought the shirts were a political statement about the situation in Israel. When one of the tour guilds said something, my parents explained the shirts were for their grandson fighting cancer. A group then gathered around and prayed for Tyler.
Fast forward to today, and Tyler is doing great. I wish that all the young men and women still fighting could see video's of Tyler then and now. Never lose faith. Never stop fighting. Never, never, never give up. There is always hope.
It seems winter is always the worst time. I do not know why, but it seems winter is the time of set-backs, relapses, and funerals. So always focus on the summer. It gets much better.
Mason Woods Celebration of Life was this week-end. I will have to say that I watched in amazement as Mason's parents and brother greeted everyone. Their calm faith and assurance is incredible. I know they hurt deeply, and miss Mason greatly. I know they have had very rough times, and those times are not over But I also know their faith in God is very real. The emotions on J-5 (and other cancer floors) are simply to raw. There is no time for masks or facades. Because of this, you get to know everyone very quickly. Their faith is pure. It is real. As Mason's dad said, "We prayed that God would heal Mason and for what ever reason that did not happen….one day we will know, but today we do not and we do not blame God, we are not angry at God….He did not cause this, He did not start this….we do believe He ended it....in Mason’s interest and in his infinite wisdom." They are truly an amazing family.
Kathy has that same quiet faith and confidence. I actually do better in the fight. I spent a lot of time yelling, challenging, and begging God. I cursed Him and cried to Him. I took a lot of showers on J-5, because it was the one place I could yell at God out loud without people hearing me (at least I think they couldn't hear).
Once I even stood on the roof of the parking garage and challenged God to a fight. Some might think I was a little insane. Kathy would disagree with the "little" part. But if I have learned anything, it is to wear no facades when you talk to God. Be real. Be honest. No matter how you look, no matter how you feel, come to Him that way. I suspect God prefers the honestly. I have an idea that He already knows who we are anyway. And I have a pretty good idea He's big enough to handle anything we say. I'm sure He's heard worse.
There is nothing out there that will cut you to the core like facing the mortality of your own child. As we sat at Children's one year ago today, we were reviewing all our options. Tyler was in very bad shape. Christian had passed away two months earlier. A.J. had passed away the prior month to Burkitt's, and Rob only 3 weeks earlier. Our good friend Brett Workman had just been sent home with hospice, and Chase Donnell was declining fast. Both would have their lives stolen by Burkitt's within the next two weeks.
But, as much as Tyler has been through, he still survived. We can not begin to imagine what it has been like for many of our friends. But this I know. God does understand. The story of Abraham and Issac, and the story of Jesus, make that very clear. The faith of the Woods does not mean their pain is any less. Some respond with greater faith, others with deep anger toward God. I think it's a safe bet to say He understands and can deal with all the responses.
And through all of this, there is always hope. Miracles continue to happen. Tyler's story is nothing less than miraculous. And Kylie, diagnosed the same day as Tyler, is doing great and back at school. Ryan, after some very difficult weeks, is fighting back with great results. Tristan Saputo and Mason McLeod are both recovering very well from their bone marrow transplants in their fight with Burkitt. The unbeatable Sinjin is celebrating his 15th birthday, a day doctors said he would never see. Matthew Barr, although with a long road ahead, is fighting hard. Jana and Jake both passed the one year mark in their remission from Burkitt's. Colyn, Nicolas, Olivia, and so many others with us on J-5 are doing great.
As Miles Levin said, we all have a path that leads us to Heaven, and for some of us that path runs straight through Hell. I believe that, no matter where we are on that path, no matter what condition we are in, God is there.
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. And God was in the whisper. --Elijah on Mount Horeb, I Kings 19:11-13