A book came in the mail today, brought to me personally by Heather, our mail carrier. We have the best mail carrier and now friend. We chatted for awhile and after she left, I decided to see what was inside the covers. The book is called Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul. I ordered it off 100 Huntley Street. It features 30 Canadian authors, so I thought I would check it out. Hey, maybe I will write for a book like that someday. Ironically, the first thing I opened up to was this piece by Angelina Fast-Vlaar. I could relate to what she had to say:
After a week of tests and tubes and toilets, my doctor stands at the foot of my hospital bed
And says in an everyday voice, "The tumour is malignant." He pats my covered leg and says,
"You'll be all right." His words are lost in the reeling room that screams at me from all sick sides –
"It's cancer! It's cancer!" My limbs freeze but I make them move and drag them down the hall,
Repeating to make the truth sink in, "I have cancer—I now have cancer."
I grope for the telephone. Shaking fingers fumble to find the buttons to press.
The ringing starts and stops and his soft voice says, "Hello."
I'm dumbstruck, realizing that one word will shatter his joy, his recent-found joy.
Finally, while choking, "Hon, it's malignant."
A muffled groan wells up from the depths of his loving heart.
"Oh no, my love – I'll be right there."
He comes and we collapse in each other's arms and cling
As we're hurtled,
Into the valley of the shadow of cancer.
When our tears are dried,
We see the Shepherd
With outstretched Hands
Ready to comfort and to guide.
He knew we were coming.
(An excerpt from The Valley of Cancer: A Journey of Comfort and Hope, c 1999)
I was reminded of November 10th, the day I was studying in my office here at home, around 10 in the morning. Doug came home from work and came in to my office and sat on the floor. I talked to him about what I was studying that day. I then told him how I was so tired, and knew I needed a sabbatical, but didn't know how to get one. He then looked at me with calm concern and said, "That's why I'm home. I called the doctor. You have cancer." I doubled over in shock. "I have cancer?" I cried, overcome with grief. I began to cry. "No! It can't be possible!" I stood up and began to pace. He took me in his arms and said, "We'll get through it together, Deb." I melted into his arms, trusting my love here on earth that he was right. And trusting my Love in heaven that He would never leave us and would help us through. And thus our journey began into the valley of the shadow of cancer. Putting one foot in front of the other and moving on through each day, and escaping from the reality of it all through the wonder of sleep. Crying out and being comforted by my husband and my God, and by all the friends that have appeared to share our burden and our journey.