“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…” – Ecclesiastes 3.1-2a
I feel like God has been allowing me to live the reality of these verses over the last few months. Yesterday would have marked my Dad’s 69th birthday, but he did not live long enough to see it. On the flip-side, my beautiful baby girl is now 3 months old, an age that we were not sure we would ever see her attain.
The irony of both lives is the timing of it all. It all started this past October. See, my father was not even diagnosed with cancer until he came to stay with us a few weeks prior to our daughter’s birth (October 28, 2011). He was intending to be there to help support our family during our daughter’s birth the birth and subsequent open heart surgery (to correct a congenital heart defect known as transposition of the great arteries). Little did we know that by the time our daughter arrived my Dad would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and himself hospitalized with only months to live. In the days following our daughter’s birth, we were in-and-out of hospitals visiting our either recovering daughter or weakening father.
By early November, our daughter had grown strong enough to be released from the hospital. Due to the success of her surgery, we were told that she would likely go on to live a full, healthy life. Around that same time, my Dad’s symptoms grew worse so he began chemotherapy. Within a matter of a couple of months, the doctors informed him that the chemotherapy was no longer producing the desired results so they sent him home on hospice.
During the course of those months, I watched the Lord daily strengthen our daughter while I watched my Dad simultaneously (once 6′ 3″ and 220 lbs.) wither away physically. By early January, the doctors informed my Dad that they thought he would only have a couple weeks left to live … they were right: the Lord called my Dad, John Edgar Hart, home to his eternal resting place on January 19, 2012.
For me, God’s mercy and grace have been on full display over these past few months in so many ways. Not only did He graciously allow my husband and I to be entrusted with our precious daughter for now by extending her life beyond birth, open-heart surgery and recovery. However, He also magnified His mercy by allowing my Dad to live a full life all the way to the very end, free from intense pain & suffering. Most importantly, while my Dad’s body was wasting away from cancer’s consumption, God seemed to strengthen my Dad’s faith and cause it to shine all the brighter! I got to see my Dad live-out Paul’s sentiments:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4.16-18
Overall, these last few months have been bitter-sweet in so many ways, but I would not trade them for anything. God has revealed Himself to me in new and exciting ways as I have had to learn to trust Him and His Word in unfamiliar ways. I am so blessed … but I sure do miss my Dad.