Friday, April 5, 2013

A Truly Bittersweet Experience

My wedding day 2009 - The Germs,  my Mom, Ben, sisters, and brother

For over a year my step-dad,  my wonderful friend, has been battling cancer. I remember listening to the voicemail my mom left, “Hey Dooney, call me back.” I could hear in her voice that she was upset. It was Valentine’s Day and I had found out I was pregnant just two days before. When my mom told me about the diagnosis I was really upset, Ben had always been so healthy except for the last few months. That night I went to bed thinking about the yin and yang of life and death; in the span of two days I had learned a lesson of the joyful promise of new life and the bitter realization of our mortality. We remained hopeful of the outcome as they learned about the HIPEC treatment and the chance to have a few more years with such a wonderful man. We fasted and prayed for a miracle, the miracle with the outcome we wanted. We said goodbye at the Fourth of July celebration as they left for their journey to Pennsylvania to receive this radical treatment. We watched as they walked away together, toward an uncertain future, with many mixed emotions. We saw the hand of the lord protecting them and the rest of family during that month that they were gone (and the months since). Tender mercies manifested with flight lay overs being shortened, upgrades in flights, and inspired and qualified doctors.
 The 4th of July a few minutes before they left  for Pennsylvania 

We prayed for his recovery, knowing it would be a long road to travel down. We saw him as he began to improve and our hope in the future began to brighten even more. He could walk a little further each day, he began lifting light weights to start building up his strength, he began to gain a little weight, and he even felt well enough to drive the car again.

Taking the kiddos and grand-kiddos for a "wheeler ride"
Mom and Ben in Hawaii
I wish I could say that his progress continued but that is not case. The realization that my hoped for outcome, his full restoration of health, was not going to happen came to my mind gradually. 
 Although, I didn't want to believe these thoughts. 
Whispering's and promptings would come to my heart telling me, “Give your sister an extra hug,”  “Send that funny picture of Peanut to you mom she needs a smile,”  “ Accept the job offer from your Aunt you need the flexibility ” and other such promptings.  Recently, as I babysat my littlest sister, I received several promptings saying, “Be extra loving to Mae she is going to need it in the upcoming days.” My nightly prayers gradually shifted from asking for “my will be done” to prayers of “thy will be done.”  My prayers also started asking -even begging - that my mom, Ben, and my two sisters would be able to make it to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  I am grateful to say that with many prayers, tender mercies, and outright miracles that blessed and highly emotional day came.  April 3, 2012 Ben, My mom, and my sisters became an eternal family. While in the temple I thought again of the Yin and Yang of the sorrow of death and the joyful promise of new life. The difference this time was that I reminded of the joyful promise of eternal life through our saviors atonement. I was reminded of the promise of the resurrection and the eternal covenants of the temple.  I was taught that the veil that separates us from our loved ones is so very thin. They watch over us and rejoice in our triumphs and good choices. Those loved ones, our angels, also come to strengthen and support us when our heads hang low. This was never as apparent as to me as during that bittersweet sealing in the temple when the promise of eternity became ever more real. The host of family, seen and unseen, created a powerful spirit felt in that beautiful house of God that was truly overwhelming. I learned the true meaning of bittersweet and am so grateful to know that bitter only lasts for a small moment and through the atonement the sweet will be eternal.  

Ben never smiled in pictures if he new they were being taken

Dancing to the Beatles "In my Life" at my wedding

We are now trying to make the most of the short time we have left with Ben.

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