Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thanksgiving Story, Part I

It begins in September.

I sit between Micah and Eliana on Friday morning, September 19th. We study a lesson from this book, Micah and I delighting in Eliana's recitation of the definition of a noun. Then the phone rings, and the husky voice of my husband greets my ear.

"Dad has lung cancer."

One hand flies to my mouth, the other to my swollen belly, and I squeeze my eyes shut. No, God, please. Don't take his father, too!

The children surround me after I hang up, having made plans with my husband to pack immediately and drive to Boise to just be there for his father. We pray for Grandpa, the boys with tears streaming down their faces, Eliana screwing up her face in sympathy, not quite sure of what is happening but wanting to be included.

The weekend is full of memory clicks, as I watch Grandpa Hooper come to grips with the news that there is a tumor on his kidney as well. He is nearly eighty, after all, but a vibrant, active eighty, and he wants to stay. I watch his eyes follow my children. Hear him sigh when Eliana tells a story in her cutesy voice. See him reach over to pull Cor close and kiss him firmly on the head. Watch him shake his head and laugh at a Micah joke. Hear him answer the boys' questions about what it was like to grow up during the Depression.

And I wonder if he will get to meet our Little Man. If he will get to smell his baby smell. Let him wrap his tiny hand around Grandpa's fingers. Delight in his first smile. Hold on.

We pray together, hold each other, and head home on Monday.

I am thirty-five weeks pregnant.

The next few weeks, my husband travels north to be with his father two more times. Each time he leaves, it gets harder to say good-bye, but I try to stay strong because I know that what he is going through is so much harder.

My sisters are here, and I am thankful for their presence.

When Kevin leaves on Tuesday, October 21st, to be at his father's side for surgery to remove his kidney, which is also cancer-laden, I am nearly thirty-nine weeks pregnant and slowing down by the minute. We hold each other in the car at the airport, the children in the backseat clamoring for hugs and kisses. I love you. And I'll be right back, he whispers into my ear. I nod and blink back tears, fully aware that he could be going to say goodbye to his father, and determine to be strong for his sake.

For in my quiet time, the Lord brings peace. He reminds me that Kevin has been present for the birth of our other children, and that He will sustain me if I am alone for this one. That Kevin will be present for the rest of Little Man's life, Lord willing, but it would bring such regret for him to miss this time with his father. I feel stronger as I accept this, and speak words of truth to myself- and my worried mama, who is far away for the first time- I will be all right!

The surgery turns out to be so much more invasive than first understood, and Dad starts to fade. He looks eighty, and it shakes my husband. He is torn between two worlds; death at his father's side, new life awaiting him at home.

And Thursday, October 23rd, I wake to regular contractions.

My husband is to return this night.

I stay in bed all day, hoping to hold off the arrival of Little Man until Daddy comes home. The contractions ease off, and I rest. And pray. Kevin wants to take an earlier flight, but I beg him to spend what time he has left with his father, and promise to lie still until he returns.

When he calls from the airport, six hundred miles away, I tell him that I will stay in bed until we both get a good night's sleep, and then tomorrow I will get up and let things get started. He laughs and tells me, Let's have him tonight! I'm feeling up to it!

So I rise.

I dress, and make dinner, catching up with the children about the day with their aunt. We eat together, and I read from Farmer Boy. I prepare them for bed, and lift Eliana into her crib, wondering when contractions are going to set in again. Hmmmmm, our bathtub needs a good cleaning, I think, and begin to scrub. Nesting!

Husband returns to a clean home, sleeping children, and a grateful wife. We hold each other, and he collapses into bed at 10:15.

The moment my head hits the pillow, the first contraction comes. And three minutes later, another. Three minutes later, another, and when two hours pass at this rate, I know it is time. Thank you, God, I breathe, marveling at His timing and care. I touch Kevin's back and whisper, I'm going to pack my bag- you keep resting.

...to be continued...

23 fellow travelers shared:

Jennspiration said...

Elise, I love what you have written, this is the story of life come full circle...you and your family have been through alot but you remain positive and I am inspired by that. Love you all!

Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups said...

It's a beautiful story... seeing God's hand at work... seeing a peace, a peace that only comes only from Him...

He is good, even in the midst of pain.

The Small Scribbler said...

Aaah. I've been waiting for this story. Beautifully written. As I knew it would be.

Kristin said...

What a story of faith! Can't wait to read more.

laura said...


Quinne said...

Hi Elise :) So, so beautiful! And I love that no matter what comes it is entitled A Thanksgiving Story. Love, Q

Shelley said...

So beautiful that you had peace about having the baby with hubby away. Glad you didn't have to, but thankful for the peace either way. So comforting to be able to encourage him to linger with his father as long as possible.

Beverly said...

I was breathless while reading this - entering into your emotions. I can't wait for more ...

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

You write.
And I'm there.
I'm humming.
Waiting for the next note, always anticipating the next note.
And you always hit it.

My, how I love your heart, these words that keep His rhythm.

I'm keeping my seat through the intermission, keen for the next set.

All my love, Elise,

Stacey said...

I am weeping. Why am I weeping????

I love you.

Thank you for writing this story down, it blesses me so.

Thank you for your comment today - it bolstered me just when I needed it.

Can't wait to read the rest.


Karly said...

Likewise, I cannot wait to read the rest.
I love how God's timing is always perfect...even when it is hard.

Love you and miss you,


Beka said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story... how I praise our Father for the way He has carried you through all of this.
I can't wait for Part 2!

Andrea said...

Isn't God so good to us?
love you.
anxiously awaiting part 2

A said...

Please don't leave me too long in these tears! I have been so encouraged by God lately that He is the God who sees us. I'm glad that you're able to give Him the glory for this! Can't wait to hear the rest of your story. I prayed for you and your family during the upcoming holidays . . .

Mrs. "M" said...

Such a beautiful view of God's kindness and mercy to you.
I am hooked and eagerly anticipating the rest.

Liberty said...

God's timing is always perfect.

Cathy said...


I'm in awe that you can write at all with your hands so full right now. (Literally!) And this beautifully? A gift from our Father. You are always so kind to share your gift with us!

Rebekah said...

I love how you share your words and your heart. What a beautiful story. I look forward to part 2!

Kate said...

I was actually born 5 days before my dad's father passed away...As soon as Mom and I were able to leave the hospital, my dad took us straight to the hospital across town to where my 51 year old grandfather lay dying of heart disease. He held me just this one time. A precious picture was taken and he died quietly the next day. My dad and I have always had a special bond because of this. God bless you and your amazing family. Kevin is in our prayers--God's grace to you!

Katrina said...

Beautifully written... BEAUTIFUL! It brought tears to my eyes...

Mindy said...

I can't wait to hear the rest. God is so faithful!

Emily said...


We have been praying for your family and awaiting your story. Thanks for sharing it! I love your title, too. Blessings on you and your family.

EEEEMommy said...

How beautiful! You are beautiful! He is beautiful! God's grace is beautiful!

I continue to pray for you all!

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