The oncologist’s report, that the cancer marker number had risen 40% in one month, rocked the couple. It was obvious that the Lord had not yet miraculously healed the wife of the cancer that had migrated to the bone.
Questions, hard ones, rush to the top of thinking and conversations. For example, will it be possible to continue taking on a monthly basis an estrogen inhibitors at least for the summer? At least that would permit some traveling to see family and friends. Is the disease getting palatably closer to some kind of lingering pre-death period, where much, if not all, of life quality is virtually eliminated? Does it make sense to do just anything to continue living just to make it to the next treatment day?
Realities also rush into their minds. For example, they are driven back to their awareness of being two dying people taking care of each other. That is what was included in the wedding vows, and they are entirely committed to keeping their vows. Neither really knows which one will survive the other. Medically the numbers may indicate that the husband will survive the wife. But even that is only a statistic. Some sudden sickness, like the meningitis that a friend of theirs suffered, or a fatal accident, could suddenly change all of that. The point is that most likely one of them will have to live with the death of the other.
So, what are the options? Curse God and commit suicide? Abandon God and become some kind of hedonist? Thank God for what they have, and live life to the fullest with whatever gift of life they have each day? The last one is the only one that makes sense. But, living joyfully for what they do have, knowing that it is temporally destined for destruction, requires a strong commitment to the values of eternity rather than to the values of time.
And, so today, as the husband sits in the mall, waiting for his wife to return from Marshall Fields, he looks at couples of various ages, and wonders how many of them ponder how temporal it all is. He wonders how many view life as so full of promise that the idea of it reaching its end is hardly ever in their minds. And, he thanks the Lord that life wasn’t given to us to spend it thinking only of it finishing in death. We are to live with the present gift of life and joy balanced by the transitoriness of life. That is certainly where both the husband and wife are as he watches his wife walking toward him with a smile on her face.