On Saturday I enjoyed a one hour phone conversation with a doctor friend catching up on our lives.
As he shared about his work, the topic of mammograms came up because he’s a radiologist and counts it a privilege to be able to talk privately with each of his patients after their scan. He mentioned that there are scans which one year do not reveal any noticeable problem, but when the woman returns the following year, the irregularity is obvious.
That brought us to the topic that “things are not what they seem.” Not only in x-rays, but in the details of our lives. A circumstance can appear to be one thing, but as time passes and surrounding events unfold, it ends up much differently than it appeared when you first looked at it.
Such it is with our daughter, Texas, who is in jail. And so it is turning out to be with Dori, who is going through colon and liver cancer – surgeries, chemo, and a weakness that haunts her.
Also on Saturday, we spent a luxuriously long lunch and conversation with Kris Owens who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in May. Kris is in his mid-forties, a father, and has been part of the high-profile, hospitality-oriented food industry in Seattle where he worked in management for Ruth’s Chris.
For all three of these forty-somethings, life has been rudely interrupted by not-so-great circumstances. It seems they should be fear-driven, crippled by an uncertain future, and grasping at what could be – though in a different way for each of them – final days of freedom.
But things are not as they seem.
Every time Texas has been in jail over the past three decades, I’ve felt ashamed. For her and for us. This time I am proud. Proud of who she’s become – bathing another inmate who is dying of AIDS in jail, singing to her at night and tucking her in. Praying she’ll make it home Tuesday to make amends with her son before she dies. I’m full of great expectations for Texas’ future.
Dori gets a respite in the middle of her second round of chemo this week because of Thanksgiving. An extra week to get past the nausea and gain some strength. So how is she spending that time? She’s preparing dinner for 23 guests for the holiday.
And Kris? He was told he had maybe two months to live at the time of initial diagnosis. But an intervention with some natural cancer treatment products and one pill he takes daily has not only bought him extra time but may reverse the prognosis.
What is Kris doing with that time? He’s living the life he was meant to live all along. Right now he’s on a road trip with his girl, revisiting every person who has been significant in his life. An expert sommelier he brings a beautiful bottle of wine to each person and they share a meal, laugh, talk about what’s really important in life and speak rich blessing over each other.
On a late October morning in 2005, a young pastor stepped into the baptistry before a congregation of 800 to baptize a new believer at University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. But as he reached out to adjust the microphone, Kyle Lake was electrocuted and pronounced dead at the hospital at 11:30 AM.
Later, David Crowder - his worship leader – came across his last sermon. The one he never got to preach. It abounds with great expectations. It is the life I want for you. The life I choose for myself. It’s what I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving.
Live. And Live Well.
BREATHE. Breath in and Breathe deeply.
Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.
On a crystal-clear, breezy, 70-degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.
If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.
Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.
If you bike, pedal HARD … and if you crash, then crash well.
Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well-done – a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed.
If you must wipe the snot from your three-year-old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex doesn’t catch it all … because soon he’ll be wiping his own.
If you’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well.
At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then you might as well laugh until you puke.
And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven.
And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life. Because it is mostly definitely a gift.