Sunday, April 13, 2014

Not Wasting Today's Grace on Tomorrow's What-if?

I was taking a bike ride last week with my dog, Heidi -- the German shepherd, in tow. I was a bit blue? depressed? sad? mournful? I couldn't quite find the word, but it wasn't normal.
The promise of spring!

Then the thought struck me, What if this is the new normal?

Several weeks prior, my wife found a lump in her left breast. Doctor's visits and diagnostic procedures kept getting progressively worse... but not terrible. The pre-op biopsy confirmed breast cancer: Stage 1a. A subsequent MRI showed that the tumor was slightly larger, upping the diagnosis to 2a. (A week later, post-surgery results indicated a more likely Stage 2b (over 2 cm with lymph node involvement) That's where we are at right now.

What-if's are rarely true. I've found that if I can imagine it, it's most likely never going to be that scenario. I read a helpful quote recently: "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." -- Physicist Niels Bohr

When dealing with potentially life-threatening diseases, it's easiest to what-if in the negative, worst-case direction, but Leslie has done the opposite too: What if this whole ordeal serves as a gigantic wake-up call to better health, a better perspective, and a new and better future? She's already used it to improve several aspects of her life: mentally, emotionally, and relationship-ly. (Yeah, relationship-ly! It works for me.)

After considering "What-if this is the new normal?" I laughed. What-if I had to live life with a 10% mental/emotional cloud? Oh well.

But what-if's seldom come true. In reality, life eventually moves into a new, unanticipated "normal."

Little bits of color on the path.
My oldest daughter Joanna sat with me during Leslie's operation (lumpectomy and removal of lymph glands). We reminisced some of the daunting circumstances surrounding her mother's bout with pancreatic cancer a decade and a half ago. In the midst of that abnormal normal, we had some good times. We ate a lot of meals together. We went on vacations. She did school and sports. We lived life in what was "normal" for us. Looking back, they were extremely trying times, but most of the time, they just felt normal. Each of us in the family did what we had to do to make things work. And it did.

And it will this time too.

"Each day has enough trouble of its own." "His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness." Those two Bible verses helped me create my game plan. Just do today. Don't waste today's mercies (grace, enablement) on tomorrow's what-if's? Many days, we just made it through the day. Most days, we had some fun along the way. Some days were stormier than others, but we made it through to the end of each day. For most of that five and a half year fight with cancer, we didn't know if we'd win or lose, but we fought, one day at a time. Or one hour at a time when things were tough.

In these current circumstances, life still hasn't settled in to the new normal. Tomorrow we meet with the doctor to discuss the pathology reports that came out of the surgery's biopsies. After that, we'll have a better idea of what the new normal for our next stage of this journey might hold. I anticipate a series of new normals... winding roads ahead? That's my guess. So we'll go slow.

Dramatic lighting when looking up!
But for now... Leslie gave me a new name, "Donald Nightingale Evans Jr." That's my job for today. That's a job that I can do, given today's grace, I can be a care-giver.

I'll do my best not to waste today's grace on tomorrow's what-if's. Tomorrow comes with its own gift of grace to be what I need to be when I need to be it. Right now? I'm off to the drug store! Duty calls!

Stay Calm and Carry On my friends. (And thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support. No one fights alone. And you've all let me know, we. are. not. alone.)