His thumb-sucking picked up the pace and his long eyelashes were blinking too quickly. “I don’t want Papa to die.”
That moment when your child innocently exposes your inner monologue.
He had overheard us talking. My dad is battling an aggressive meningioma. That’s a fancy way of saying brain tumor. It’s malignant. Cancer. He has already survived three craniotomies and reached the lifetime threshold of radiation for the human body. He is without eyesight in his right eye, and we had just received the news that he will be completely blind within a matter of months. Despite the best care in the country, the tumor was growing again. There would be no more operations. There would be no more radiation. There is simply nothing else that can be done.
So there I laid in all of my brokenness.
I had a choice to make. I could pour all of my own anxieties on my child by averting a discussion that would be difficult for me. Or I could use this as an opportunity to calm his fears by asserting my own faith in God. My heart wanted to comfort him, but my mind was numb. I expected to bury my face in my hands and sob. But I didn’t. Instead I heard myself telling my children about the wonders of heaven like the greatest fairy tale ever told. Or maybe they were the storytellers? I don’t remember. We talked about how beautiful it will be. Together we imagined what it will look like with pearly white gates and streets paved with gold. We remembered the truth that Jesus will be waiting for us, and we daydreamed of the first time we will be able to gaze into God’s eyes and feel his comforting embrace. We delighted in our belief that we will all be together again, surrounded by people who only love, free of sin. As I held my children tightly, I felt God’s arms around me like a gigantic hug at just the right time.
I had wanted to run. But God drew me in closer. He wanted to show me that I was not alone in my pain. I felt my sadness give way to hopefulness.
You can imagine the intense joy that I felt when I had a later opportunity to deliver the news that we have witnessed God perform a miracle in our very own family! The same neurosurgeon who had released my dad just three months earlier called him back for one last checkup, only to discover no signs of tumor growth. There is no medical explanation. It is almost unbelievable. It can only be interpreted as the power of prayer. God had taken my brokenness and not only strengthened my own faith in Him, but also gave me an opportunity to teach my children about the power of prayer and sing His glories loudly to anyone who will listen.
There are a few conversations that almost all parents dread. (Where do babies come from? I don’t want to die. And, for me, can we get a puppy?) I’m here to remind you that you’ve got this! Well, no. No, you don’t. At least I didn’t. But God did — as he always does!
Stay tuned for more blog posts about parenting. You can also join us on Sept. 15 for Breathing Room, a night out for parents. Click here for tickets.