What a year! The past seven months have been a nightmare. I wish I could look at it in a different light, but I still can’t wake up. Now, before I begin, I truly don’t want this blog post to come across as a whining, complaining diatribe. That’s not its intent. Everyone everywhere faces seemingly insurmountable odds every day. It is the one thing humans should be able to understand about one another. Nothing in life is easy. What we all have in common is hardship of varying degrees.
As many of you know, my wife has been fighting cancer since September of 2018. It has been a long road with many twists and turns. She had a lymph node biopsy, which detected cancer in it after all, and facial reconstruction. I’m glad to say that part of her is healing quite well. In January of this year, she started Opdivo, an immunotherapy drug that is designed specifically to fight melanoma cells. We thought that this would be the easy part of the journey, but it has turned into a trail of endless doctor appointments and strange maladies (dead thyroid, double vision to name two).
I wish I could say that the health events only affected Liz. My oldest daughter has been on antibiotics three times since January (2 strep infections & 1 ear infection). My second oldest has been on antibiotics twice (2 strep infections). My third daughter has had 1 strep infection and an earring back surgically removed from the back of her ear (long story). My youngest has also had 1 strep infection. This doesn’t even count the hospitalization my wife endured for several days at the end of March. Several doctor appointments are still on the horizon, including a liver biopsy for an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, a visit to the neuro-ophthalmologist and rheumatologist, as well as a trip back to Philadelphia to visit the dermatologist/oncologist. She also has the routine CT scans and lymph node ultrasounds with her oncologist and skin checks with her dermatologist. It is a road that we will be on for quite some time.
When will it end? That is the question that floats around in the back of my mind whenever I am reminded of all these things. The answer that echoes is this: “I suppose never.”
This is the plight of humanity; it is the struggle we all must endure.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Psalm 13:1
The car repairs, dirty dishes, clean house, work trouble – these are the small stresses that no longer seem small. These are the stresses that begin to feel overwhelming when coupled with everything else.
What can one do? You must keep on going! Our four daughters depend on it.
All of this brings me to the strange point of this blog post.
“What turkey?” you may ask.
THIS ONE IN OUR HALLWAY
Well, on Friday night, while we were out at a friend’s house, a turkey crashed through our double-paned window and roosted in our house for several hours. While there, it destroyed part of our kitchen, scratched our floor, smeared blood and feces on our walls, beds, floors, doors, and ceilings. (Yes, even the ceiling.) Of course, insurance only covered $282 dollars.
Good ol’ insurance. They think of everything.
So, in the end, what does all of it mean? How does our family carry on? One step at a time. Though, if I’m being honest, at this point it feels as if I’m more or less being dragged behind the wheel of a truck.
What else do we do? We will wait. There is nothing else we can do. We will wait, and wait, and wait.
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24 ).
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.