In a football game an intercepted pass can completely the tone and texture — and outcome — of a game. How many times have we heard the announcer cry out, “This changes the game completely” even while the interceptor is still scrambling to get into the end zone?
Most turning points in life are a little more difficult to discern, yet I know I have just passed through one.
As I’ve mentioned before, being in Stage 4 Cancer has cot me very little pain. I’m just increasingly fatigued and weak. Mostly, I think, that is caused by an increase in the lower back pain that that haunted me for 40 years.
Though I lack the words to articulate just what has happened, I know that this past weekend I slipped into another level of my slow movement toward my death.
For months, I’ve found myself trying hard to concentrate my strength when I’ve know we’ve had company coming for extended visits. When close friends Stan and Cathy came from Pennsylvania and Ron and Brynn from California, I gathered all the strength I had in order to be present for them. The result was a weekend of laughter, a few tears, and deep, deep joy and gratitude.
It was the same when Kurt and Deb came and many others. The cycle became familiar. Save up strength, enjoy my friends to the fullest, and then take 2-4 days to recover. It has been physically draining but more than worth it. Emotionally it has been rich beyond description. I can truly say I have never felt so loved in my life.
But now the cycle has been broken. Three friends coming from Hawaii? Okay, concentrate your strength. Prepare yourself. And here they are!
They brought not only their own beautiful selves but wonderful, wonderful memories. They had been young and unsure of themselves when I saw in each of them something that told me they were going to grow into extraordinary adults. How right I was!
And, in a very important way, these three — Becky, Daisy, Donna — represented for me all of the amazingly gracious people I was so privileged to work with in our ten years with InterVarsity in Hawai’i. (I’m having a very hard time writing this — the tears just keep flowing, tears of joy.)
But, perhaps because we have no more extended visits scheduled, I feel the change in me. When they returned to Hawai’i, they took something of me with them. (Besides leaving behind several pounds of chocolate covered macadamia nuts!) I have not taken another small shuffle toward the end, but a significant step of some sort. Too small to describe; too large to enjoy.
Hmm, as I keep mulling this over, I can make one observation, which is that I think I will not be able to gather strength any more. I’ve gathered it and given it for the last time. I still love all our friends but when they visit I’ll be able to make no special effort to be present with them for very long. Being the very best friend I can be, using every ounce of energy I can muster? I’m afraid that’s just one more things I have to let slip into the past.