Before we decided to not hire a contractor to remodel our basement, we actually did hire the tall and loud contractor team that was in our home the night I found out Gordy had cancer. He was supposed to draw up the plans, submit them to the city for permitting, and get started on the project within a few weeks.
What I learned, and what I’m sure everyone who has undertaken a remodeling project has learned, is that these things never go as planned.
I bought a plane ticket on a Friday to leave for Minnesota that Sunday afternoon in May – Mother’s Day 2004. I took Ruthie with me but didn’t get her a seat, hoping she would sleep in my arms, which she did – for about half an hour.
I think that was the longest flight in my life for more than one reason.
Gordy was in round two of his six rounds of chemotherapy. My visit coincided with the “good” week of the three-week cycle. Since his cancer treatment began, the concept of a “good” week or a “good” day has taken on a new meaning for me.
Gordy’s hair began to fall out while I was there. Not that any of us are insensitive enough to care that he is bald, but the hair loss is a visual reminder of the illness. Once you see his bare head you know, you are reminded — even if he is having a “good” strong day where he seems to be his old self – the illness can’t be ignored.
I was very grateful for that visit, for that window into the early days of his fight against the imperfection and unfairness of our corrupt life on Earth. It made me think a lot about Adam and Eve and the blissful life they led, naked in the garden. How nice that would be today.
Back then, in May 2004, my mom was very optimistic about the future. I wanted to be optimistic, but something inside me left me heavy and foreboding. I hated the waiting, the wondering, the questions left unanswered. It drove me crazy that The Doctors didn’t give percentages or prognoses, that they didn’t say, “If you do X, the outcome will be Y.
I felt like that’s all we did that summer – waited. Six times, over the course of four and a half months, for three days in a row each time, nurses would inject powerful chemicals into Gordy’s veins.
And we would wait.
And we waited all summer, wondering what would happen.
I called home several times during that visit. The contractors were supposed to start their work while I was away, but we had heard nothing from them in over a week. I began to worry that he was flaking on us, and was grateful we hadn’t given him any money yet. Bryan sent a terse email requesting that he update us on the project, and he finally responded. He was waiting on word from the city regarding the permits, and would get started as soon as those came in.
So we waited for that as well.
The words of Psalm 40 came to mind: “I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry.” I wondered what it looked like to wait patiently, and what it looked like for God to hear my cry. Would the bad things go away? Or would I just feel comforted in the midst of the bad things? And was I wrong to feel that being comforted was worse than being delivered?
I was not afraid to ask these questions of God. But like The Doctors, God does not always give percentages or if/then statements.
I felt comforted then, and continue to feel comforted. And now it seems that deliverance by my definition is not to come. But I do not feel wronged by God, only that I am to continue to wait, and that he continues to hear my cry.
Although I’m still not sure what that looks like.