I’ve always heard people say to “Live each day as though it were your last.” I’ve never really understood exactly how to do that, but I would think about it often and wonder if I were living how I would really want to if it were my last. But, how do you live each day knowing in a very tangible way that it could be your love’s last day? This, I have no idea and it actually seems much harder to me. And for the past 7 months this thought has been consistently in my head, and for the past 3 weeks not a moment has gone by that I don’t think about it. It is with me everywhere. In the hospital, I felt like I was watching Will die and with every moment that passed I felt like I was dying with him and in some ways I was. I didn’t know if we would ever walk through the door of our apartment together again. I didn’t know if I would ever hug him again without a brace in between us. I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that we were talking about burial locations.
But the day came that we were able to come home. We did walk through our door again and Will seemed better. But, a couple of days later, he was once again declining. Was it the cancer? Was it the new regimen we had him on? There was/is no way of knowing what is going on in Will’s body. Is he getting better? Is he getting worse? As the days go by, I become more and more aware of the fact that we are at the end of the 3-week mark since we were told he only had weeks left. Throughout the day I glance over at his chest… is he still breathing? He is… thank you Lord. I ask myself… do I take a shower now…does he seem okay to be away for a few minutes? Can I go to sleep, or should I stay up to watch him? Will he wake up in the morning? And every morning, from the moment my eyes open, I hold my breath until I see him take one. But, each morning he has and the past few mornings he has seemed a little bit better. Is this the ebb and flow of the cancer, or is he improving? I don’t know. I don’t know what is going on inside of his body, but I know that we have been given more moments of alertness and energy. More moments of laughter and even the occasional moment of not thinking about the word cancer.
My sister and I were talking the other day about how in the fall of 2002, Will, my sister, and I were driving back to Union University after being in Indiana for a family reunion over Labor Day. Kelli was driving, Will was in the front passenger’s seat, and I was in the back. We were headed down an Indiana highway on our way to I-65. Will, trying to get comfortable for the 8-hour drive ahead of us, unbuckled his seat belt for a moment to readjust. It was that very moment that a truck coming off of a country road pulled out right in front of us. Going about 60 miles per hour and with a full tank of gas, we slammed right into the side of that truck. Our car was totaled. Will hit the windshield so hard that there were two dents in it: one from his shoulder and the other from his head. How he didn’t fly through the windshield, or why he (or any of us) didn’t die or become seriously injured that day is a mystery.
I’ve thought about that day a lot lately. I think about how bad that wreck was and how Will probably should have died, but he didn’t. It obviously wasn’t his time on that day, in that moment. He had more life to live. That is a comforting thought for me now. It reminds me that life can not be “taken” away from us. Our days are just numbered. Does Will have more life to live this time? Well, he’s living today, and it’s been a good day, and yesterday was a good day and the day before that and I am thankful. I do still long for a day that I don’t check to see if he’s breathing, but I wonder if in this season I actually have a better grasp of the fragility of life than the days that I don’t/didn’t even think about if Will was breathing or not. I don’t know. Life is a really confusing thing these days for me. But instead of being overwhelmed by how much I don’t understand, I am trying my best to be thankful for what we have. I don’t know that I do this well, but I’m trying. Today, I will be thankful that we hugged for the first time without Will’s brace. Hearing his heart beat, feeling his chest move with each breath… these are things I will cherish all my days, and I hope I will never again take for granted.