Sunday, November 20, 2011

Home, not Hospital, for Thanksgiving

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about how different my life is this Thanksgiving season than last year.  Last Thanksgiving our family ate our meal in the basement cafeteria of a hospital. 
Vending machines, visitor passes, cafeteria meals, recycling bins, wall-mounted hand sanitizer, and the absence of Daddy, all marked a stark contrast to our normal comfy Thanksgiving Feast.
Attempts were made by friends and family members who sent homemade rolls, muffins, pies, floral arrangements, and even tablecloths and candles, to aid in making it feel a little more homey.  The cousins still played and we all helped them create a Thanksgiving Tree to bring up to Daddy's room later that day.  They each traced their little hands, creating handprints as leaves and wrote things they were thankful for in the centers.  

We came together...mother, sons, daughters, in-laws, uncles, aunts, grandmother, grandchildren, buoy each other up in the face of the dire state of my poor pain, unable to think properly, feeling helpless, wondering, waiting to see if he would improve enough from his cancer to be able to come home soon.  

25 days he was in the hospital.  An absolute test of faith.  Moments of utter fear, moments of anguish, moments of tenderness, moments of miracles.  It has been a long journey for my father this year and he has quietly lived it, drawing little attention to himself. But his is a story of triumph and deep faith, one I pray that he will fully share with us one day.  One that deserves great recognition and emulation.

This past week I received a text from him letting me know that the protein level of IGM,  the cancer in his blood which crowd out his healthy cells, has decreased to 2060 from 2316 last month.  This is such amazing news to hear that it is continuing to drop after reaching its height while he was in the hospital at 9000+.  A healthy person's level is around 200.

What a miracle is has been that this medicine has been helping!  Such a miracle in fact, that he was able to travel to Europe last month to bring my sister Elizabeth home from her mission for our church in Switzerland and France, something he had been looking forward to for months.  Yes, you see, my sister had been serving the Lord away from home the past 18 months.  It had been difficult having her gone during such a trying time, but we received strength from her service in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the very message we were striving to live, faith in His plan, faith in His love, the power of His Atonement.

As you look at these photos, you can see the joy in my father's eyes.  The gratitude for His life.  The depth of His faith.  It lightens my soul to see my Daddy's smile.

What can be better than that?...the sound of his laugh.  Anyone in our family would tell you the same.  There's nothing like listening and watching my Daddy laugh.  From the sound, to his squinty eyes, to a full body tremor, to the way his skin goes completely red.  Truly infectious.

So this Thanksgiving season I am thankful for...{just to name a few}:

*the return of my Daddy's laugh
*not needing a Visitor Pass to see him
*a home cooked Thanksgiving Feast, of all our favorites, in my parents' home with my family {miss you Bub, Jani & Abigail}
*the safe arrival of my baby Sis
*a declining IGM level 
*the unconditional love of my husband
*four charming children who love playing outside and dance parties
*living next door to my parents and close to most of my family {come on Bub, everybody's doing it}
*continued prayers from friends and family
*friends who invest their lives in mine
*a testimony that God loves me and that whatever we have experienced this year, "God meant it unto good" {Genesis 50:20}

{to read more about My Daddy click here or on the label in the right-hand column}


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