2017: The Year of Anxiety. Fires and hurricanes swallowed whole sections of states. Mass shootings are third-page news (did you know the Parkland shooting this week was the 18th school shooting in 2018? Me neither). World leaders who are increasingly unstable. #metoo shows just how abusive and damaging our society is, and has been for a long time. Missiles can now reach somewhere in middle America, fresh from North Korea. This world is on the brink of destruction.
2017: My dad got really sick in November. My good, loyal, teasing and loving father, who was planning to come and help us renovate a little house this summer. Who had just torn off all the old lath-and-plaster from the hallway so he could renovate the bathroom for my mom–(because why not start in the hall adjacent to the bathroom?). The day after the remodeling began he went into the ER and stayed in the hospital for eight weeks. My mom stayed by his side through the whole thing, even losing her job in the process. (She’s fine. It worked out to her advantage. God is good.)
My parents found out that they have very, very, very good friends and family. There was a constant stream of people coming to see my dad in the hospital. Family members were willing to get bone marrow tested. Friends routinely drove an hour out of their way to come and chat for 15 minutes. Of special note is the amazing friend/neighbor/angel who left my mom a lunch packed to take the the hospital. Every. Single. Day. The cooler was often accompanied by a note of encouragement or a talk that was especially comforting, a collection of Christmas stories, poems and handwritten notes. Consider that for yourself: Every single day. For two months. I can’t even make my husband a lunch to take to work. . . ever. Not that I don’t want to, I just don’t ever think of it before he leaves–and he lives in my very house!
When the chemo wasn’t successful, he was sent home. Hospice should be a word reserved for really old people, whose houses smell of warm carnation instant breakfast and Depends. Not a word that could be applied to my father: wise and strong and seriously young. 65 was all he got though.
But the people kept streaming through to talk, bring milkshakes (his last meal was a Ripple’s Chocolate Shake), sit and silently mourn with him as he suffered. One of his former students came and offered her massage training by just rubbing his sore feet. People fed our entire family on several occassions. A dear friend and colleague woke up at 4:00 on the day of his funeral to make enough homemade rolls to feed an army. “For Bus.” was all she said.
Cancer. Hospice. Death. Destruction. Fires. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Despite the terrible and seemingly hopeless state of the world, I feel renewed optimism. The tender and personal acts of kindness and love that have been shown just to one family, in just one period of trauma, helped me know that Jesus is right: People are precious and good.
This is a world worth saving.