Clara's cancer has spawned a number of firsts. A few friends have joined facebook for the first time, presumably to receive the daily updates on Clara's condition. And now, I am making my first blog posting, both to assist Natasha in the daily updates and to share a portion of my experience in our family battle with this awful disease.
I drove up to Spokane this morning with the intention of sending Natasha back home with our car so she could have a day (or two) off and spend some time with the other children in their natural habitat. Our numerous visits with doctors prevented her from going home, but I don't think she could stand to be away from Clara anyway. Clara has been up and down again today. I think it's safe to assume that will be a blanket statement each day for the next year.
The physical therapist came with the wagon to take Clara for 15-20 minutes of PT this afternoon. Once Clara was out of bed, she didn't want to have anything to do with the wagon. She wanted to walk! So down the hall, to the elevator, and down another hall we went. During PT, she played with a number of toys, throwing them around the room and then walking or crawling to pick them up. After she finished her PT, she wanted to walk back to her room. All in all, she probably walked as much today as she has the whole time she's been in the hospital. Later in the afternoon, she went on a wagon ride, rode around in the little car, and went on another short walk. This was followed by a long nap - the poor girl was exhausted.
Since Friday Clara's eyes have not been tracking together. Her right eye has a tendency to cross and she has had a twitching problem when she sleeps. Today we met separately with a neurologist, an ophthalmologist, the surgeon and the oncologist about this issue. They each have their own theories, but this really is minor compared to everything else she's dealing with. In a message to a friend, I compared this to getting a blinker replaced when your transmission goes out. Each time we meet with the oncologist, it seems like Clara is throwing something at him that he's never seen before. Educationally, she's wonderful. Medically, she's a challenge.
During the past two weeks I have been in a state of constant amazement. Amazed at the strength and inspiring words of my wonderful wife through this ordeal, amazed at the resilience of our other four children, amazed at the kindness and generosity of family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers in bearing this burden with us and helping to brighten what could otherwise be our darkest days. I am amazed by the transformation I've felt within myself - with potentially millions of dollars in hospital bills coming in our near future, I feel a sense of calm and peace that is completely out of character. It is amazing to me that when I think about what is really important in my life - my family, my faith, my friends, relationships, etc., none of the material things that envelop our lives really matter at all. This experience has truly helped me to re-consider my life's list of priorities. Finally, I am amazed to have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered all that he might intimately know our pains, our fears and our agonies. He knows Clara's pain and our pain as we watch her fight this disease.
There is a hymn we sing in church which perfectly describes my emotions during the past few weeks.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he would extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.