One of the hardest things to watch was Whit's face when she asked when the IV would be hooked up. It was her first evening home from the hospital and she had been unable to eat solid food since Christmas. We told her there were no plans to hook up an IV unless she requested it. The reasons for this are complicated and difficult to discuss. What it boiled down to was that it would prolong what could be an agonizing death. My God... my daughter was going to starve to death in front of our eyes. The Bible tells us that God will not place any more on us than we can bear, and I knew that we could not bear to see her waste away. God bless those who have had to endure their loved ones in that condition. We couldn't let Taylor witness that, but we did not want to send Whitney to the hospice house or hospital unless we had to. Thankfully, that would not be the case. The immediate issue was liver failure. But what we did not expect was the advancement of the lung tumors. Her breathing became rapid and laborious even with oxygen. It was a relief for the nurses to explain that she was not in any pain. Patrick was making sure of that.
Patrick was changing out her oxygen to use a full mask when her breathing suddenly stopped. It was 9:02 pm. I was standing by his side but had turned away in conversation...it happened that suddenly. Ramona and Ryan were there, as were many family members and close friends. I thank them all for being there...we needed them. Somehow, I believe her Spirit had left long before.
For me to actually believe that is a giant step from where my heart was years ago. I am reluctant to share that I was agnostic for about 16 years. I went to church with my family on Sunday mornings but I had lost touch with the faith of my youth. College had a lot to do with it as I was exposed to other religions, philosophy, and all the other -osophies and -ologies. I would be 44 years old before I re-committed my life to God. But it was a necessary part of my walk because I think I would have become lukewarm if I had not fully committed to God with my heart, mind and soul. Even in the times I thought I would slip into atheism, I never lost my genuine love for Christ and desire to be a Christian. I know that will not make sense to lots of folks.
Ironically, my anchor through all those years was a healing that I received on the night I got saved. A healing which was eluding my daughter. It was undeniable...almost scary. I could not with my best efforts explain it away. It was a gift God knew I needed to keep me when my faith would fail. I hold those who accept God totally by faith in the highest regard.
This is an important fact. Healing did not elude Whitney. As I have written about earlier, the awful pain and the bout with vomiting blood she suffered in the early days of her diagnosis inexplicably left her days before she began chemo. She had taken herself off the pain meds as they were making her nauseous and unable to hold anything down. The pain, that had grown progressively worse for months, went away. Due to the effects of chemo, she would be tired and anemic in the months to follow but Whitney took absolutely no pain medication--except maybe a Tylenol-- until August when we had to return home from vacation. Those pain free months allowed her to witness, write, fish, eat, conquer Clingman's dome, enjoy her family, and see Luke take his first steps. It was a miracle that I still can not explain--but miracles, by their nature, defy natural explanation. These events could be easily overlooked in the chaos of it all as we were looking for the "big" miracle.
As her father, the "big" miracle would have been her total healing. As a member of the human race, the big miracle would have been a cure. I still pray for a cure... as does everyone reading this, I'm sure. Whitney's story is but one of thousands. Our story as her caregivers does not even touch the pain and sacrifice of the legion of caregivers out there. God bless the caregivers. And God help those who have no one to give that care.
I'm a firm believer in God's power to heal. But a cure would bypass the "complications" that can accompany healing. For one, a relationship with Christ that is hinged on miracles is a shaky one. If one is healed and another is not, we begin to question even more. Was that one not worthy? Was there sin? Did we not do something right? I can only speak to Whit's situation. EVERYONE DID EVERYTHING RIGHT. God worked through your prayer. Your prayers healed Whitney in ways you could never know. Your prayers healed my family. Your prayers healed me.
I've got a lot going on today so some of my ideas are scattered, etc... Thank you for reading. This is not something I would have ever dreamed of doing had Whitney not started it...but it helps a lot.