Have you ever felt your heartbreak slowly and completely - when you know it is happening and can’t do anything to stop it?
Today my wife came home from Target around lunch time and told me a story that broke me down. She had bumped into a friend of ours who gave her the news that a friend of hers who we had met casually at family events was in the middle of a devastating three months. Her husband had been diagnosed with late stage brain cancer and was given three months to live of which the first thirty days might be bearable. They have a bunch of kids, boys and girls, and were struggling through the process of preparing for his death. Creating photos and letters. Purchasing and engraving meaningful items that each child would have when he passed. We talked about what to give the boys – what I would give the boys. We talked about how they were trying to figure out how to make three months or maybe just thirty days somehow matter in the lives of kids 4 to 14 years old.
I wept. I tried not to, but I couldn’t stop it. My son was sitting at the counter eating lunch talking about how is egg had survived the “drop challenge” at preschool that day. I pictured my daughter at school and looked at my watch to see when I would pick her up.
I couldn’t help considering what I would do in their lives. How I would look into my seven year old daughter’s eyes and explain something of the reality – anything of the reality. How would I convey something to my three year old son let alone make sure he remembered what I said?
I am crushed and I didn’t even think about the father’s death – my death. I looked at my wife and said, “Should we write letters for our kids? Should we engrave something? What if one of us died in a….” I couldn’t finish the sentence and buried my face in my hands.
I yelled at my kids this morning for playing around in the bathroom. I got mad before my run because my IPod wouldn’t work. I told my daughter I would read to her last night and then didn’t.
As I write this, trying to get rid of the sickness in my stomach, I can’t help from welling up and pushing back the tears, thinking about what it might be like to tell my kids, the treasures given to me by God, that dad is going to die and they are going to watch it happen.
I want to make sense of it, I want to wrap it up in a nice connection to Easter, or providence, or trials, but I can’t. All I can do is weep.
I walked out of the kitchen and then turned back and kissed my son on the head. He pushed me away and made a super hero gesture.
This life is brutally precarious and we waste so damn much of it. God give me the power to stop. God give me the power to do better, at least a little, at least today.