A note from me! This is the first of two, maybe three, entries about transitioning from Chris and I being in the midst of his radiation treatment to finishing it and approaching normalcy in our lives once again…and all the feelings in between. I aspire to have these words become more than just a blog post someday soon, but until I finish all of them (and there are a lot!) they will fill the pages of my blog. I so hope to reach people with our story in an effort to bring hope and encouragement to others who may or (may not) find themselves going through unexpected trials in their lives.
When Chris asked me a few days ago if he could drive us to Target instead of me, because his vision has come back, an unexpected thing happened. I began to feel my roll of caretaker, the one I’ve had since mid-November start to break off of me like an egg shell off a hard boiled egg.
He said, “I should do it, shouldn’t I? I mean, my vision is back. I can drive us to Target.”
I said, “Of course, babe. Yes. You should drive…Are you sure? In the snow? You’re sure?”
My “saver” was starting to show and this was when I realized that I needed to step back and let him step up. His inability to drive because of brain tumor-induced vision loss for the last four months couldn’t have been good for him. Let’s be real. He’s the man of the house. He’s the driver. He’s dad. He’s husband. He’s Chris DeZeeuw.
Handing him the keys and trusting his judgement to step up was empowerment for him on his road back to “normalcy.” Whether he’s willing to admit that or not.
It was exciting for me to get to be the passenger again. The kids loved having their dad behind the wheel for a change. But as I reached for the keys upon leaving the checkout lane and remembered that I don’t have them this time, it occurred to me that this was going to be a hard habit to break. Not only the habit of me being the sole driver, but of me being the caregiver. I know that role will never go away, it shouldn’t. I’m Mom and I’m wife. Care giving is in that job description.
It’s also in the job description for wife-of-brain-tumor-patient. My caregiver role in that capacity is so solid, maybe even to a fault, I’ll admit. I may not know how to let it soften for a while. I’ve been in “go-save-him” mode almost nonstop since before Thanksgiving. As I said, or thought I did, old habits die hard. And, what’s interesting is that this kind of care giving certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s just different. It’s done with urgency, with an insatiable desire to give.all.the.care and make him as well as possible, as fast as possible to the very best of my human ability. Urgency. That is an important word in all of this.
I think about how I’ve felt a sense of purpose that I didn’t really have prior to this second brain tumor go-around and, before I go on, please let me be clear. I. do. not. prefer. a. brain. tumor. in. the. man. I. love. to. be. what. fulfills. in. me. purpose. Was I throwing around the word, purpose, back in January as a thing I was seeking for the new year and I was doing it without my knowledge and God, in all of His infinite Glory, picked up what I was evidently putting down and was like, “Yes! Here you go Jen, this will be a perfect fit for you!”
It’s like back in January 2013 when Chris chose the word, “Seeking,” as his New Year’s word and, although he did that on purpose, God must have done the same thing and said, “You got it, Chris, here is this tumor and I will place it in your brain and not only will you seek me, but you will find Me and I will bring you closer to Me through my healing and My presence and My Grace, love and mercy.”
Even though my tongue is in my cheek, just the tiniest bit, I know that God’s love for Chris never fails and He is the maker of all things working together for our good. And I’m aware that its not only for Chris, its for everyone! I know it because I’ve seen it and also, it is written in Romans 8:28 “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes.”
I haven’t handled all that’s happened over the last four months with ease or least of all grace. And, I love that word, grace. It’s right up there on my list near the word, love. My writing and my countenance may have me appear as though I’m unscathed, but that is an untruth, my friends. It isn’t easy, nor has it been. I have had no idea what I’m doing or if I’ve even been doing it right. The days have grown much brighter, but I wouldn’t want to act as though what we’ve gone through hasn’t at all violently side-swiped us off track.
I have shaken my fist in God’s direction too many times during the last four months. I even called one of the pastors at our church on one of my dark days from the Albertson’s parking lot and told him how mad I was that God was making us go through it again. And seemingly worse this time. Ben told me that God wants us to come to him with our feelings of anger, its what brings us closer to Him. And, no, it wasn’t a hokey pastors-are-supposed-to-give-answers-like-that response. I especially respected him for his words because he has a down and dirty, heart-breaking loss in his personal experience that God stood by him during, even in his darkest of days. I’ll never forget one of his Sunday morning messages when he preached about those times when we’re so angry with God for letting that awful thing happen and we shake our fists at Him and threaten to turn away, that we could just easier do it all on our own and a God who lets that awful thing happen isn’t the God we thought He was. But it was Ben who offered a challenge…which life would we prefer to live? The one with God’s hope and promises or the one without? So, it was up to us “angries” to make that decision. Also, it was Ben’s father, who was our first pastor at a church that Chris and I attended on our own as grown ups, who preached once, before his passing, we are always the ones who leave. God has never, nor will ever, leave us. He is always there waiting for us to come back. It has been our hope in His promises that have allowed us to pick ourselves up and dust off each time. We chose to stay.