Saturday, January 8

the bitter, the sweet

My dad's cancer is not improving. His PSA levels have doubled, which means there is cancer in his body, and its presence is growing. And it's time to start more treatments. He got the news on Wednesday, and he has a little while to figure out what he and my mom want to do. Get second opinions, start treatment, whatever.

Adversity is a part of our existence here, whether we like it or not. Doug and I believe that God allows adversity to let us grow and learn and develop into better people. He doesn't enjoy seeing us in pain, but He gives us comfort and strength and the tools to get through it. Adversity shows us what we're made of. Sometimes we see we're not made of much, and it gives us a chance to improve ourselves.

There's a scripture that says, "For if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39). I often think of that scripture when I think of the day Addy was born. I was so inexplicably caught off guard by the intensity of my labor pains. As the contractions came so strong and so close together, Doug and I struggled to do the breathing and relaxation techniques we'd practiced. I kept looking at him as if to say, "Uh, this is NOT what I was expecting." (Why, you ask? Because I'm a dolt.) It was a whole new kind of pain for me. So when I eventually got the epidural, all I can remember is the almost laughable relief. I felt SO good! I was able to rest and talk and function. The contrast of that extreme pain to that extreme lack of pain was so drastic, that when I look back at that day I only think of (a) the relief and (b) the fact that it ending with a beautiful, healthy baby being born. Serious joy.

As I've thought about my dad's cancer today, I've realized how mad I am at cancer. How annoyed I am that it won't leave him alone. How upset I am that my dad... and my mom... and all the people that love them... have to deal with this type of adversity. And I realized something: I only seem to accept certain types of adversity. The more comfortable kind. The childbirth that brings painful labor but results in a baby, the exercise that causes sore muscles but makes you healthier, the failures that teach you life lessons and make you better in the long run. I somehow feel like any adversity beyond that is unfair.

But then I think of when my little nephew died. During his six months of life, he struggled day to day in the children's hospital just to live. But along the way he gathered a fan club outside of our family that was made up of nurses, doctors, friends of family, and coworkers of those friends that prayed for him and that felt a unity of faith in supporting him and his family. I think of all the joy we felt just by being touched by his simple, humble life. The appreciation we felt for the little things, and a reminder of what's truly important in life.

His life is exhibit A of the type of adversity I don't seem to condone. It's the type that I say to Heavenly Father, "Nice try, but that's too much... let's try something easier." But He allows those things. And some beautiful things came--amazingly--from that tragedy. And now He is allowing this cancer. And I wonder... what strength will come from this? What joy will come--could possibly come--from this pain? And I admit, I'm so emotional right now that I just don't know. Maybe this is a chance for us to all show some appreciation for good health and medical victories. Maybe this is a time to become closer as a family. Maybe this is a time to forgive differences and just celebrate the good. I really don't know. But I'm going to try and lose this anger I'm feeling. Maybe I won't stop being mad at cancer, but I'm going to stop being upset with the Lord for allowing this to happen to my dad. I want to accept that there are things I can't control, work for the things that I can control, and do what I can to make this bitterness give us something sweet.

26 comments:

The Richmans said...

I'm speechless. Mostly because I'm just as baffled at the mysteries of adversity as you are. I'm so sorry for what you are going through but I admire you for trying to look at the bright side. Brian and I will keep your family in our prayers.

Alyson said...

This post has me in tears. I think you speak for most of us when you say that we can handle certain kind of adversity...the kind that we are certain will make us stronger in the end. But the other kind just seems senseless and heartbreaking at the time. I can't pretend to know how you are feeling, but I know it must be hard for your family. I'll be thinking about you and let me know if there is anything I can ever do, even if its just to talk.

Alicia said...

Beautifully stated. Your ability to express yourself through words (especially when the subject matter is horrible and painful and awful) is unmatched.

We are praying for you, for your dad, and for the important lessons (whatever they may be) to come and go...and to still leave you all standing at the end of it.

Take care, J. We love you.

Liz Smith said...

Oh Jackie, I'm so sorry. What a difficult thing to have to go through. :( This was a beautiful post. I will be praying for you, your dad, and the rest of your family. *hugs*

the meyersons said...

Me too.

Love you.

melissa said...

My heart goes out to you guys. When my dad had his heart attack a little over a year ago and was in the hospital barely hanging onto life for about a week, I was so out of sorts I didn't know WHAT to feel. I kept wanting to ask WHY, but I knew that wouldn't get me anywhere, and I prayed and begged for him to live, but I could never work up the guts to say, "Lord, I trust you. Do what you see best with my dad. I'll accept it." I know that's what I SHOULD have said, but I just couldn't do it. I know it's all part of life, but like you, I feel like it's just too hard. And I know people eventually heal, but that's also hard. I wish good people like our parents were totally invincible. I guess the best part is just knowing we're an eternal family, and although it's all we know right now, this life is but a blip on our entire existence. We'll keep you guys in our prayers. xoxo

Alicia said...

I am so sorry Jackie. I honestly don't know what to say, I wish I could give you a big giant hug right now. Just know that we'll be praying for you guys and are here for you for anything you need, anything at all. Love you.

CYD said...

wow-came on here to cheer up and look at chubby pics of addy. glad you can convey what i'm feeling into words b/c right now i'm just sort of speechless. people keep asking how dad is doing and i honestly don't know how to respond. i hate to say it-but i'm kind of over adversity. and mostly over my dad and mom dealing with it first-hand so much. i keep trying to do things that make me laugh.
hang in there and love ya.

Cali's Mom said...

beautifully written Jackie. I wish you, your family and especially your dad peace and comfrot through this trial. I am much like you I feel like I have said, "Lord this is too much" more times than I can count, but I know that just by saying that to Him you are showing your love for, faith in and dependance on Him and all those things will help you through. Take care Jackie!

Monica McCoy said...

So sorry to hear this. I hope that the sweetness will come to you soon. We have you and you father in our prayers.

R said...

I'm sorry about such a hard thing for your family. Despite the crummy news, your post was wonderful to read. Thank you.

Suzanne said...

I love you, Dunlop.

Kadi said...

I love you guys! I'm sorry Jackie. This is crap. I say you try and stop being mad and I will be mad for you...does that help? You are an amazing and strong person. I'm sorry your family is having to go through this. I hate adversity and so I don't have anything nice to say about that, but know that I love you and I'm praying for you and your family. Love you.

Kim said...

beautifully written. This gives me a lot to think about. I am so sorry about your dad. I will keep your family in my prayers.

Mortensen Baby Farm said...

Wow! Couldn't have been written any better! Love you Jackie...you have amazed me from you were a youngin!

Furniss Family said...

I am so sorry Jackie!! With one of my best friends dying of cancer, relapsing 4 times, i admit it's hard to take. Especially since it's your dad, that so sad and hard to handle. Have faith that everything will be ok and i know if he's supposed to be ok, that everything will be alright. Your family will be in our prayers and strength to get through this, it's very emotionally draining. Let me know if you need anything or just to talk. Take care sweetie and talk to you soon.

Kev and Chels said...

So well written. We'll be thinking of you and praying for your family. XOXO.

Lindy said...

Love you, miss you, thinking of you, praying for you.

The Fox Family said...

your a great writer Jackie..thanks for expressing my feelings exactly. i remember feeling this way a lot when it came to infertility. I can't imagine dealing with a family members illness like this though. You are so strong,even if you may not feel that way now. Aren't you grateful for the knowledge of the plan of salvation? we will be praying for your family.

Sara said...

This post was beautiful and left me in tears. Thank you for sharing and giving me a good kick in teh booty reminding what life is all about. Hang in there and remember the Lord will not give us more than we can handle. I am sure you are thinking, "ha not so sure." but that's what i thought while i watched my dad battle cancer...and looking back now i realize that it couldn't be more true. we love you and please let us know if there is anything we can do!!!

Ryan said...

This is very touching and thought provoking. And by touching I mean there is something in my eye, well both eyes. You two are amazing people with amazing testimonies. We will pray for you and for us to learn lessons as well.

The Miles Family said...

Oh Jackie..
We are so sorry. This is never what you want to hear. I can't even imagine what you are feeling right now. I'm mad at cancer too!! We love you and will be praying for your family. Love you guys!

The Richardsons said...

Jackie, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. You and your family will be in my prayers. He must be an amazing man to have raised a daughter with such an incredible testimony.

Michal Thompson said...

I have always thought that only the people who are strong get the really hard challenges. So you all must be grouped in that category- at least in my mind. Prayers will be said in his behalf.

the Allers said...

Love you guys....

li'l mil said...

Down with cancer, down with pain, down with suffering! But unfortunately, that also means down with faith, down with healing and down with growth. Kind of a sucky catch-22, huh? Even when I'm not remotely close to figuring out a "Why?" or "What exactly am I supposed to learn from this?", I'm just glad to know that whatever it is, the Lord knows I can handle it. If He has that kind of faith in me, who am I to doubt Him?

Thanks for sharing the personal...blogs are tricky that way but I don't think anyone regrets when they get real. Our prayers are with you guys and your family!