His Love Carries Me

If You Could See Me Now

As we near the third anniversary of Chris' death, I've decided to share another special part of his life with you.

Chris’ last month was very humbling for a man who had always been strong and took good care of his family. (In return, it was my privilege and honor to be his caregiver and be by his side throughout this 6-year journey.) He was in almost constant back pain because of the changes in his torso due to a collapsed lung and 5 fractured vertebrae that had been repaired. He walked lopsided with one shoulder noticeably lower than the other due to his collapsed lung. He also lost 2 inches in height. If you could see him now, he’s walking streets of gold. He’s standing tall and whole!

No Longer Just a Dream

In 2010, Chris told our older son, Chad, “Go for it and chase your dream. I have no doubt you’ll make it.” (see my previous blog): Chasing a Dream

Chad reached one dream last year—his first time to race in the Tour de France. Today he reached another dream: to win an Individual Time Trial (ITT) in a WorldTour—a Grand Tour—the Giro d’Italia (Italy’s version of the Tour de France for those who aren’t familiar with the cycling world).

Strong Support System

Seeing Chris so weak during radiation was scary. Formerly robust and full of vitality, he became skin and bones, sleeping a lot, and looking like “death warmed over.” I struggled to keep a strong front, holding a tsunami of emotions in. Occasionally, billowy waves crashed over me, destroying my façade.

Many mornings I’d have a smile on my face as I kissed Chris good-bye before I went to work. But as soon as I got in my car, tears started flowing, and I cried all the way to the office. My client and his wife, Jay and Lou Ann, were so compassionate. Having worked with them for eleven years in their home-based office, we’d become close friends. Seeing me walk in the door with a shiny red nose and bloodshot eyes, they knew I was having a rough morning and let me cry on their shoulders while they comforted me.

Appreciation for Life

Six months after Chris was diagnosed and he had experienced setback after setback, we could have easily started feeling sorry for ourselves. But we had a reality check that I documented in my journal:

Wednesday, we were riding the shuttle van back to the hotel from MD Anderson. We stopped at a children’s hospital to pick up a mother and her nine-year-old son. She struggled to lift him into the front seat. He apparently had brain cancer, as he was bald and lacked motor skills and had tremors. The mother was cheerful, as was the boy. He sang with the radio on the way to the hotel (or at least attempted to sing). We were all laughing because he was so happy, and it was so touching.

Roaring on the Radio

I had an opportunity to share about God’s faithfulness during an interview about Cancer on Two Wheels and His Love Carries Me on “The Review with Joy and Company” on live radio. It may not have been a loud roar like a lion, but it’s the loudest my lamb’s voice can do without becoming hoarse.

Although I was panicking and filled with anxiety the weekend before the interview, Joy, Rose, and Rosemary put me at ease, and it was an enjoyable experience. With each speaking engagement, I am becoming more confident as I share our story in speaking engagements. Here is the link to the interview on Facebook Live.

Strengthening Faith

I have a confession to make. I used to open my Bible only on Sundays. I tried reading through the Bible many times over the years but lost interest because I was reading it as merely a historical book instead of the living Word of God.

We were driving to Houston once again, a captive audience listening to sermons on our favorite Christian radio station.

Robert Jeffress preached first. “It’s important to read your Bible every day, preferably first thing in the morning before your day starts.”

Chuck Swindoll was next. “I suggest reading your Bible first thing in the morning before starting the day,” he said.

Then came David Jeremiah’s sermon. “The ideal time to read the Bible is first thing in the morning before your day starts.”

Finally, Charles Stanley came on. I’ll give you one guess what the sermon was about.

“Okay, God, I got the message!” I shouted. His voice may not have been audible, but His message came through loud and clear. I needed to deepen my knowledge and strengthen my spiritual walk to make it through the tough times ahead.

A Roaring Lamb

I tell in the introduction of my book how God led me to write His Love Carries Me. (Refer to the “Peek Inside” feature on the Home page.) But there is more to the story that explains why I have two publishers’ logos on my books.

Homes of Hope

My younger son, Shane, was Chad’s shadow. Whatever Chad did, Shane did. Their lives always seemed to be intertwined as best buddies. After Shane graduated from college and was unhappy with his chosen career path, he decided to try his brother’s dream career. Shane, too, became a professional bicyclist, before he quickly realized that was Chad’s dream—not his. Here are excerpts from what Shane wrote in 2014 (shared with his permission):

More Than Sport

My older son, Chad, just finished racing his first Tour de France, and his professional cycling team, Team Sunweb, helped Tom Dumoulin place second overall. As proud and excited as I am for him and for them, Chad will be the first to tell you that there is more to life than just sports. Below are excerpts from a blog that he wrote about a life-changing experience he had in 2013 (shared with his permission):

Paying Homage

Chris enjoyed leatherworking as a hobby, and when Chad and Shane were young, he taught them a bit of the craft. In Cancer on Two Wheels, Chris talks about how he taught Shane some more of leathercrafting when Shane was in middle school. The last time they shared this hobby was Thanksgiving week 2013. After his father’s death, Shane decided to teach himself more of the skill as he worked through his grief. His ability has far surpassed anything his father knew how to do. I thought you’d enjoy hearing how Shane decided to pay tribute to his dad by making this his living:

The Art of Taking a Pitch

Both Chad and Shane have inherited their father’s talent for writing. Here’s a blog that Shane wrote in September 2016 about a lesson he learned from his dad in baseball that reflected how Chris dealt with life during cancer:

Love Letter

It's  hard to believe that two years ago today the love of my life took his first breath in heaven. In commemoration, I will give you a peek into the love we shared. 

In 2011, less than a year into his battle with stage IV lung cancer, Chris was in the hospital on Valentine’s Day recovering from an almost non-existent immune system from chemo. I had just gotten over a cold but still wore a mask to prevent breathing any germs on him.

I gave him a heart-shaped box of chocolates decorated with the words “Faith, Hope, Love.” Those words described exactly what we had. Here is the letter that I included in my Valentine's Day card to him:

Footprints in the Sand

I chose the cover for His Love Carries Me because of the following:

Before our first appointment at MD Anderson, my oldest brother gave Chris and me a special coin to carry in our pockets representing the story “Footprints in the Sand.” This wasn’t a good-luck charm. It was simply a tangible reminder that during the tough times we’d be facing, it might seem like God has abandoned us. During those times, though, His love would be carrying us.

Questions

Welcome to my blog! This is a place where I will provide caregiver tips, resources for cancer information and financial help, and suggestions to assist those who are going through a devastating medical diagnosis. I might include excerpts from our books and some “outtakes” that didn’t make it into my book. You may suggest in the “Comments” section other topics you’d like me to cover in this blog related to caregiving or cancer.