Well, today’s the day, the one we have been eagerly awaiting since way back in January when we started this journey. It seems so long ago. In a few hours, you will pack your trusty chemo bag with your special blanket, snacks, hand-held Scrabble and People magazines and head off for your eighteenth and final treatment.
I want to take this moment to tell you how proud I have been of you in all of this. From Day One, you have faced this pesky little problem with tremendous grace, courage and dignity. Your resolve in fighting cancer has never wavered and your joy has shone like a beacon of hope. You have been such an inspiration, not only to me but to countless people out there whose lives you have touched. At a time when you have been at your most vulnerable, you have made it a priority to reach out and minister to others, helping them with words of wisdom, encouragement, thoughts and prayers.
The thing that has most struck me is your amazing faith and trust in God. Your inner faith shines through so beautifully in your words, your blog entries and your calm demeanor throughout this journey. Anger? At a time when you have every right to be angry at God, that is not something that I have observed in you. You have an unwavering faith that God is on His throne and holds you in the palm of His hand and that wherever this journey takes you, God is there with you. What better place to be?
You have reminded me of this verse from Isaiah and which I give back to you:
When you pass through the (deep) waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Please indulge me one more passage from the Bible. This one is a little paraphrase of mine from Psalm 91. It goes like this:
Psalm. 91. Gabrielle who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Gabrielle will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save Gabrielle from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover Gabrielle with his feathers, and under his wings Gabrielle will find refuge; his faithfulness will be Gabrielle’s shield and rampart. Gabrielle will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at Gabrielle’s side, ten thousand at Gabrielle’s right hand, but it will not come near Gabrielle. If Gabrielle makes the Most High her dwelling—even the LORD, who is Gabrielle’s refuge—then no harm will befall Gabrielle, no disaster will come near Gabrielle. For he will command his angels concerning Gabrielle to guard Gabrielle in all Gabrielle’s ways; they will lift Gabrielle up in their hands, so that Gabrielle will not strike Gabrielle’s foot against a stone. Gabrielle will tread upon the lion and the cobra; Gabrielle will trample the great lion and the serpent. "Because he loves Gabrielle," says the LORD, "I will rescue Gabrielle; I will protect Gabrielle, for Gabrielle acknowledges my name. Gabrielle will call upon me, and I will answer Gabrielle; I will be with Gabrielle in trouble, I will deliver Gabrielle and honor Gabrielle. With long life will I satisfy Gabrielle and show Gabrielle my salvation. Psalm 91, RSV*
(* Revised Steve Version)
Good stuff, huh? It is almost as good as my favorite Bible verse: “Now, Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs” Acts 6:8. Not sure why I like that one so much. For some reason, it just speaks to me. But that’s just a little aside.
I have been blessed to have you as my wife for over 30 years. My love for you has never been deeper than it has been right now as we face this struggle together. You are a champion and I admire you so much. Thank you for everything. Now, get into that ring and kick the stuffing out of cancer one more time! Looking forward to a big celebration when all this is said and done and while you’re still hopped up on steroids. Did someone say Mexican food??
p.s. And, of course, a major thank you to Renee and Daniel who have been so amazing throughout this as well. You are the best children I could ever hope to have. I feel so blessed and humbled to be your dad.
p.p.s. As for the rest of our “rope team”, a big thanks to you as well. We could not have done it without each and every one of you.