This is going to be at least two posts. A lot of it is old information, but I needed to process again for the sake of the new. If you know me, I know you understand, if you don’t know me, this is a good starting place to get to do so.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward will stand the test of time
In 2004, when my little world was simple and complete, my husband and I felt the Lord leading us to do a very strange, scary thing: We both received separate confirmations to God’s leading, and we both were in agreement that we would obey, even if we didn’t completely understand or see God’s plan in what He was asking of us. Kevin accepted a job 8 hours north of where we were currently living, and we left behind a wonderful church family, dear friends, a half acre of kid friendly space, and a sweet little bungalow on the outskirts of town. We downsized to fit a family of six into a 3 bedroom apartment. We knew the consequences of obedience, we believed God was calling us to lay it all down, and we put our trust in Him, and walked in obedience to His voice.
In the last Sunday worship service we attended, the song above was played. It was like an exclamation point to our declaration of faith and hope in God, His will, His way. We saw it as confirmation that God was pleased with our obedience.
In October of 2004, just months after we moved, I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I was in a funeral parlor, and there were people crying, and at the front of the parlor, there was a casket. In my dream, I thought it was my aunt’s funeral (she had passed away a few years prior), but when I approached the casket, I saw my Daddy there. The very next day, I got a call from my mom saying that the doctor had found a spot on Daddy’s lung, and wanted to operate to remove it, but Dad refused. I truly believe God gave me that dream to buffer the blow, so that I could be strong for my mom and my kids. I had a deep sense that I would be saying goodbye to my Dad soon, but was not prepared for the whirlwind that became my new reality.
I phoned my parents the day after Thanksgiving, to see how they were doing and how their celebration went. I asked if they enjoyed their dinner, and they both said “yes”. I asked “what did you have to eat, dad?” and he answered that he couldn’t remember.
What he ate.
For Thanksgiving dinner.
Something was very wrong. Thus began an onslaught of phone calls between my brothers and sister, and plans were made to all make it home in February to celebrate their 5oth wedding anniversary. We kids collaborated on poems, stories, memories, and pictures to bless them with, and all six of us-from separate ends of the US-were all able to attend their celebration. When we arrived, however, it quickly became evident that things were definitely not okay.
My dad was in constant pain, refused to eat, was weak, and held his head moaning horribly. He refused to go to the hospital, and stated on more than one occasion that he felt like he was dying. Despite our begging and pleading for him to do so, he refused to go to the hospital or doctor for pain management. He verbalized that he did not want to die in a hospital or a nursing home. It took us weeks to convince him to do so, fervently promising that we would not leave him there, and we would not allow him to be admitted to a nursing home. When he was convinced we would honor his wishes, he finally consented. They ran him through the battery of tests, and found that he had stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain, where there were several tumors. The doctor put him on steroids and got his pain under control, then instructed my brother to take him home, call hospice and put his affairs in order. He gave him 2-6 weeks to live.
Upon firming up hospice care for my dad, we learned that my Mom’s breast cancer had returned to her bones, and she instructed us to call hospice for her as well. We all collaborated again, arranging our schedules and our lives around our new reality. I began alternating weekly visits to my childhood home to care for my parents, with what essentially became weekly visits to our little apartment to catch up on things there, all while continuing to homeschool my girls. Daddy passed away in April of 2005. Momma followed a year to the month later. I got a crash course in hospice care, C.N.A. duties, and grief counseling. Through this year long journey, I was struck with the beauty of God’s providence. Kevin’s new job was night shift, seven days on, seven off. We had friends that came alongside us at that time, assisting the girls and I to travel when Kevin was not able to accompany us, somehow, we were able to make it financially through all that, and I gained useful skills for the next chapter God had written for me.
After my Mom passed away, it became financially necessary for me to return to work. In effect, this required my girls to be enrolled in school. Another loss that carried it’s own share of grief, in more ways than one. I went to work doing the very thing that God had trained me in for the past year, employed in long-term care. I loved my work, and found deep satisfaction in serving the elderly. During this time, my husband made several trips home to see his mother, who had become ill, and passed away. Each time, he returned home with irreversible homesickness, and we began to talk (again) of moving back to his childhood home in eastern Canada. It was also during this time, that Kevin shared his desire to convert to Catholicism. We visited with Fr. Joe who encouraged us to attend RCIA in the fall when it started up again. We did so, and being convinced together that this was God’s will for our family, were confirmed with our girls in April, 2010. Almost simultaneously with this process, our son got married, our daughter informed us that we were going to be grandparents, and we planned a second wedding within 3 months. In fact, her reception was scheduled for the same day as our confirmation, we dressed up for one and went from there to the other! Our first grandbaby was born the following September. Talk about a wild ride!
Through a series of complicated circumstances and events, we expedited our move to Canada, planning to complete the immigration process from here. When we arrived, however, it became apparent that the job that Kevin has done for the past 23 years, would not employ him without large amounts of money for a Canadian Registry process, and at least two years of waiting time. We did not have that kind of money or time to spare, and so he took the first job that would hire him. Our time here has been one disappointing closed door after another, including but not limited to being unemployed, fractured family dynamics, and fruitless attempts to get back home where we both can work and try to get back on our feet.