It sunk in when I looked at the pictures.
The pictures worth more than a thousand words, capturing a moment more beautiful than words.
A man and his bride and over thirty years of living togetherness. There are some things that words can’t process…ways that words don’t suffice.
Words can’t always do justice and there are moments impossible for a picture to touch. Like the moment she pulled in the driveway from buying groceries in town and almost hit the wooden deck, her face all surprise. She climbed out of the car slow, “What? What is this?”
And from the front door I could see the tears rising to the surface, and Vienna grinning nixy, “Grandma! Grandma, we surprised you!”
The diagnosis was cancer and the surgery was scheduled and we all felt that ethereal “huh?” The one you feel when the diagnosis is cancer. I hope you don’t know what I mean.
Why is it so easy to take beautiful people for granted? To not see how that one person, the mother of nine, flawed and imperfect like the rest of us, ties a whole family together like no one else can…because no one can replace a mother.
When the diagnosis is cancer for someone you love, the reality is that you keep on living because life doesn’t wait for shock to register or panic to settle. You ask your “why’s”, you shed your tears, you speak words of encouragement that inevitably feel flat, and you get up and you live.
And when I find the pictures, lost on a card with over a thousand photos from a wedding and family shoot, it sinks in and settles and you wonder again why it’s so easy to take people for granted.
My mother-in-law, Alma, she looked cancer in the face and she walked forward straight and took her trembling yet unwavering stand. And it sinks in deep and settles on my questioning heart – that somehow all of this is grace, because all of this is redemption and all of redemption is grace.
Ann Kiemel put it this way.
Jesus took my shattered
heart and [you fill in the blank], and wrote
sheet music the heavenly choirs
God is doing the same for you.
if you can’t hear the choirs yet,
just know Jesus is still working
on the project.
Infertility. Cancer. The death of your child.
You fill in the blank.
When you get your diagnosis and you feel that sinking depth of loss, the God of all Creation is standing right there to catch you and raise you up. Every shattered piece rephrased into beauty.
There could be no beauty without ugliness first.
And I see this more clearly now, when I sit on a couch in her living room and I look into her eyes and we don’t say anything about the part of her that’s gone, that left an ugly scar.
For everything that she has lost, she has gained, and this is the beauty of redemptive grace.
My mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer about three weeks ago and has since gone through a single mastectomy. She will find out more about the pathway forward this Thursday at her visit with the oncologist. At the moment, we are praising God that the cancer seemed to be contained and had not spread to her lymph nodes. Continue to keep Alma Shafer in your prayers and believe with her that whatever lies ahead…God is good all the time.