I often recall that Thursday morning, the day before my dear husband passed, standing next to his bed and watching him struggle to breathe. A great man of God and his sweet wife were visiting with us. With tears streaming down my face, I confessed to him that I didn't think I could take any more. He wisely asked, "Can you just make it to the end of today?" This was in the morning, and I began to shake all over and sobbed, "No."
He quietly said, "How about making it to dinner time? Do you think you can do that?"
"Just make it to lunch. Do you think you can make it to lunch?"
"OK. That's fine," he said softly and gently. "Let's try to focus on the next hour. Can you try to make it through this next hour?"
I looked at Todd, heard his raspy breath, saw him laying there so still, knowing he was in pain, then put my head down and cried, "I can't make it another hour, Pastor. I just can't."
"Alright, then. Let's do this by the second. By the moment. You've just made it through three of them. Now keep going. Breathe." And then he prayed. He prayed for me, for Todd, for the children, each by name, and then for me again. That was more than a few moments! I had made it. I still needed to focus on those moments through the day, but eventually it got to be minutes. Then I was able to move to hours. And you know, baby steps: a few hours strung together, eventually days, weeks, and now, once in a while, a whole month.
I can't tell you how many times I think of the words to that hymn, Day By Day. Through all of these 13 years and 9 months, God has always been here. He has never left me. He has been so faithful. And He gives me the strength for each moment and yes, each day!
A few months ago I came to that point again of thinking I couldn't go on. Through this past summer, my health was not great. Among other problems, the dermatologist found a basal cell skin cancer mole on the side of my nose and another group of irregular cells higher, but near to the other mole. Since my daughter was to be married in August, we decided to have the basal cell removed in early September, which we did and all went well.
For that other group of "build-up of irregular plasma cells," I was told it was not cancerous, but that I needed to see a specialist: a hematologist/oncologist. That sounded cancerous to me! Once there the specialist explained I had "Extramedullary plasmacytoma," which basically is cancer, but not like normal cancer. He did his best to explain this to me, but also said it could be a sign of other plasmacytomas in other places in my body, like my bones or bloodstream. In other words, this could be a sign of leukemia or another kind of cancer in my body. I have to be honest, and say these words did not phase me very much. I have been longing for heaven for 13 years! However, telling the kids would be difficult. That's when I became concerned....for them. One was married in the summer, and another moved to his own home, but that still leaves 4 kids at home, with our youngest being only 15.
Well, we all began taking each day as it came. Day By Day....again. Over the next few weeks were a series of tests: first there was the bone marrow biopsy, which thankfully was normal. Then there was the PETscan, which again, thankfully was normal. Then they did a CTscan and set me up to do radiation in order to get rid of the apparent single plasmacytoma on the side of my nose. Day By Day...sometimes Moment by Moment.
Radiation treatment involves 5 days a week for 5 weeks. Day By Day. Each morning they need to numb my right eyeball and slide a lead shield over it to protect it from the radiation. Moment by Moment. Then they place a mesh mask over my face and head. Moment by Moment. Then they make sure I can breathe, tell me to stay still, and leave the room. Moment by Moment. Then I hear the humming noise and, although my eyes are taped closed, can "see" the light. Moment by Moment. When it's all done, they come back in the room and remove the face mask and lead shield, and place a patch over my eye. I can't drive for 20-30 minutes, so I need to sit in the waiting room until I am able to drive. Day By Day.
Currently I am midway through my 4th week of radiation! Side effects are minimal, but beginning to cause conflicts with work.
I was so excited and thrilled to be blessed with one of the best jobs I have ever had! I now work as a tutor for Brandywine Academic Services, and the owner is a believer in Jesus Christ! It is such a blessing to work for someone who I know is praying for me and who wants to run her business as a mission to honor the Lord. I have been really enjoying working with each new student God has allowed me to tutor!
And despite the itchy, sore, red eye, bright red spot on the side of my face, and fatigue setting in, God has provided the strength needed for each tutoring session! Day By Day. There have been some days where I just don't feel like I can make it, and in those days, God miraculously changes the schedule to provide the rest needed. Every. Time. !!! Day By Day.
Through all of this, I have been enlightened to things I don't believe I ever would have been, had it not been for the trials. First, it's a lot easier (at least for me) going through the trial myself, than watching a loved one go through the trial. Second, the closer I am in walking Day By Day and Moment by Moment to an Almighty God, the more I am able to see Him at work in the details, and that's amazing! Just amazing!
My prognosis is good for now. They will be checking my blood every 6 months to be sure no other plasmacytomas show up anyplace else.
Trials are tough. But walking Day By Day and Moment by Moment, can strengthen your faith and allow you to rejoice in your Amazing Father like nothing else can.
I know I have copied these words on this blog before, but they are always a blessing to me, and I pray to you as well!
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.
Help me then in eve'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.