Today Mark Hall, the lead singer from my favorite Christian group Casting Crowns, is undergoing surgery for cancer.
Also today I and one of my brothers will be accompanying my Dad to a cancer treatment center in order to glean information about the options of treatment for my Dad's recently diagnosed cancer.
I am finding it difficult to breathe. Not in a true physical sense; nothing is wrong with my breathing. But I have learned about myself that when things get stressful I forget to breathe. I feel my body struggling; I want only to sleep; things hurt for no reason; that is when I remember that I need to take deep breaths.
I suspect if anyone had observed me yesterday in the examining room at the doctor's office with my Dad they would have thought I am a very cold person. I cannot explain why I was unmoved by the news that my Dad's cancer is very aggressive and the recommendation that extreme measures be taken to hold it at bay. Why I doled out tissues to my Dad and his friend but I didn't need any. I watched my Dad's reaction, observed the look on his face which I've seen just once before (the moment his Mom passed from death to eternal life). I observed his friend, a woman who has become valuable in our lives, struggling beneath the weight of the news that she is going to lose a man who has become valuable in her life. I don't believe I was in shock. This was not unexpected news for me. I had read much about Dad's condition since first learning there was something wrong. I knew the possibilities.
Yesterday, before getting the news, I prayed for Mark Hall. I'm going to be honest here, and it will give people yet another reason to think I am cold. I told God that, if it were possible, I would choose for my Dad to die rather than Mark Hall. I don't think that makes me cold. The fact is that Mark Hall is a relatively young man and I believe he has young children. My Dad, at nearly 85, has already lived longer than many people. His children are grown. He has grandchildren and great grandchildren. I want Mark Hall to have the opportunity to watch his children grow up, get married and give him grandchildren.
I've told people that I lost my Dad the day my Mom died. The man I knew as my father disappeared. Once in a while I saw a glimpse of him but, truly, the Dad I knew has never fully reappeared. Which is not to say all has been gloom and doom. I have shared many times of rich, full laughter with my Dad. Even yesterday, after we returned from the doctor, there were times of laughing so hard I could barely breathe. But I've had nearly five years of realizing my Dad was not really here anymore.
So why, now, am I struggling to breathe?