I sat across the booth from Suzie picking through a shepherd’s pie while my head swam. We occasionally looked at each other, smiled and shook our heads. I held back tears with difficulty. There’s no crying in restaurants.
“Wow,” was the best I could come up with.
“Yeah,” she answered.
There are few moments in life when perspective is possible, when you can peer down the long corridors of history, when you grasp the true significance of a moment, when you can take it all in.
Becoming a grandparent is such a moment.
The Power Of Beauty
A recent study revealed that people become more spiritual when confronted with awe inspiring scenes of great beauty. There is, inside of us, a need to ask the question,”Why?” At such moments it is easy to see that something far beyond us is at work.
Surely holding your first granddaughter minutes after her birth is a moment of awe.
It’s different from holding your own newborn, another awe filled moment, because of perspective. It’s been twenty-four years since our family held our last newborn.
We now hold in our minds the collective history of two generations that gave birth to this moment. It’s a lot to take in over dinner.
It’s kind of rethinking your life because, looking back, things take on an entirely different meaning.
In the present, life takes your full concentration. It takes everything you’ve got. You don’t have the time or the ability to speculate on where it all leads.
When Suzie faced her first cancer we never thought about the years that would follow. If we had, we would not have imagined the blessings and joys our family has given us. We were just hoping for a future at all.
When the second and third cancers popped up unexpectedly we steeled ourselves for a fight. We never considered the joy of seeing all of our children graduate high school. It wasn’t even on our radar screen.
When the fourth cancer robbed Suzie of her ability to speak and we had to argue with doctors and nurses to get seen, we were not thinking of all of the Thanksgiving meals we would share.
When the fifth, sixth and seventh cancers appeared on a wider scan, the future all but disappeared from view. The sight of a doctor crying did not inspire confidence. We would have been thrilled to know for sure that Suzie would make it through the year. Thoughts of school plays, Christmas musicals and college degrees played no part in our determination to fight on.
The long search for “the” prom dress or helping our son pick out his first tux were not on our minds when the eighth cancer was discovered by accident. We were wondering how you treat a cancer that no one could even identify.
When a cut lung turned a routine breast reconstruction into a life threatening event, we did not dream of seeing our children travel the globe or go on mission trips to desperate or dangerous countries.
During six long months of chemotherapy fog and nausea we did not pause to wonder whether our daughters’ engagement rings would be gold or platinum.
Wedding dresses and color schemes didn’t inspire us when seizures led to heart arrhythmia. We didn’t try to guess the subject of our son’s screenplay or the tempo of his first song.
During the dreadful year of “adjusting” epilepsy medication we never imagined our daughters working in hospitals helping others or envision the endless miles conquered in Relay For Life events.
We had no idea what would happen. We just went on faith that life would be worth the trouble.
Because there’s always trouble.
This we could easily anticipate. It became a powerful motivator. We knew how much help we needed and wanted to be there for our children whatever trouble came.
And it came. Our children faced a lot of problems. A few of them caused by us. Okay, maybe more than a few. (Sorry about that, kids.)
The stress of growing up in a home with multiple cancers has caused more than one child to run off the rails. Ours did not. While we could be there and listen and pray, the survival of their generation is credited to them. They faced life’s biggest issues from a young age with courage and grit. Including problems we never faced.
Our daughter, over the last six years, lost three babies. Landon was immediately whisked to Vanderbilt Children’s hospital across town. She never even got to hold him. The heartbreak of that cannot be conveyed.
So the moment my brave daughter handed her daughter to my courageous wife was, in a word, glorious.
During the cancer years my wildest imaginings did not include the sight of Suzie, nineteen full years later, holding her first granddaughter.
The hopes and dreams, the struggle and survival of two generations summed up in one tightly wrapped bundle. I can only imagine what my Mom must feel.
When I say never give up, it matters . . . more than you can probably appreciate right now.
Here’s a principle to live by:
Don’t Quit Before God Does.
If God says it’s time to quit, you will quit. You won’t have an option.
So, if you are still here, then you’re not done yet.
You cannot imagine the future. You can rarely gain perspective on the past. No one can. We are trapped in the now.
But if you give your all and never give up, then one day you will reach a moment of perspective and see your life from a larger vantage point.
Trust me on this. It will be awesome.