Three years now we had been warring with the invisible beast in a back and forth tug of war for Dean’s life. Each rope pulling on him with equal ferocity, cutting into his skin. Leaving burns. The ropes grew tighter. Frayed. Each one becoming more frantic. Seeking him not in part, but whole.
Dean recovered from another brush with death. He recovered from the chemo and started to improve after the horrendous infection that followed. Before we left to go back to Esperance, they wanted to see if Dean was, in fact, in remission. The doc didn’t think he would be. I was particularly raw that day. The doctor’s prognosis confirmed what I’d felt for a long time. I wouldn’t have Dean for long. Didn’t know how long. But it wasn’t going to be as long as I wanted. We wouldn’t grow old together. The very idea made my heart almost too heavy to carry. My eyes were full glasses of water. Ready to spill over at the slightest disturbance.
As Dean was getting his marrow drawn, I did a bit of shopping. After an hour of relatively unfruitful retail perusing, I went back to the ward. Dean and I awaited the doctor for the results. He came in and sat pensively on the edge of the bed. He then told us that incredibly Dean was in remission. Elation. Progress! Hope. After so much bad news, this was a shot of adrenaline to the heart. And we were soaring. I kissed Dean. I had to walk. I left Dean to get himself organized and ready to leave. I just had to get outside and look into the sky and thank God.
The Hay Street mall was only down the block. It had become a frequent and pleasant escape for me over these months and years. God used the sun to caress my upturned, smiling face. My heart was a brownie with a molten center and my face its candle atop. I walked into Cafe 54 on cloud ten. Walking on air. Raptured in amazement. Wow. Beaming. Radiant. Joy. I ordered my chai latte and sat down in a booth. Wonderment. Music. I hear music. It was a song I’d never heard before. I listened intently. It almost sounded like…like a worship song. Then words “Ooooooh praise him, oooooooh praise him, he is holyyyyyy, he is holyyyyyyy.” Am I hearing that? Is that really playing? I looked around at other customers to see if they could hear it too. Heaven must have opened over me. It’s a portal! I’m hearing the song of my heart being played in heaven! Eyes, wide. Ears, drinking in the melody. Each. Exquisite. Note. I was raptured in musical euphoria. I studied my surroundings. Trying to discern if this music was playing in heaven or on Earth. That’s really playing! That is actually playing in the cafe. Are these guys christians? I walked over to the cafe owner. We were on a first name basis as I had been there so frequently. I couldn’t hide my glee.
“I love this music! Are you guys christians?!”
“Yeah,” He smiled back at me. “this is our pastor.” He gestured to the man acting as barista. Wow! I tried to describe to them my morning’s revelations and my awe when hearing the song. How it blessed me! Wings.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. And he filled me with strength that day. I was going to need it.
When I got back to the hospital, the doc gave us a sobering discussion. “Getting the results back that Dean is in remission is really encouraging, but the reality is that the cancer will come back and Dean probably only has about six months.” That was sobering. Where do we go from here?
I got in the driver’s seat and Dean laid down in the back of the car, overcome with emotion.
“What are we going to do honey? What do you think about what the doctor said?” I could hear that he was crying, which he rarely did.
I was feeling strong. Resolve. “Babe. We are not going to let this be a dark cloud over our heads. Over our life and our family. We are going to go home and live life. And do that to the full. They are doctors. We can be grateful for them, but they don’t have all the answers.”
We returned to Esperance.
And then the worst began.