Today we spent the day at the beach with the Duvall’s, Nic, Kate and Anthony. It was a great day. But, I’m not sure I want to write about it. Since Andrea cancer returned I have found I don’t like to take pictures or write about events involving Andrea. I don’t like thinking it could be the last pictures of Andrea or my last memories or her. It feels like I’m going to be looking back on this when I’m alone. That somehow trying to capture this memory is giving into the belief that Andrea will not be with me. In contrast I find myself wishing I could capture the days, the events. When I look at our picture albums there is a definite gap since 2003. It reminds me of my fear and I don’t like it. I seem to find that in my life I forget moments I hold very dear. Moments in my life that are very special, but in a year or so they fade and I can’t seem to remember the way I felt, or what exactly occurred. I really want to remember each day and all that is special about Andrea. I find myself thinking about a day like today and wondering will I remember these moments and trying to capture a mental picture the events and the feelings of such a wonderful day.
In retrospect I see so many lessons in this day, lessons of life, fear, and the strength and importance of friends. Lessons that would prove valuable in the coming months. This day reminded me of the fear of cancer and how it threatens Andrea’s life, yet together with our friends and our faith we can overcome this fear. That cancer can’t take away our joy of living. I realized there is life with cancer; we will have happy days as well as sad days and the joys of life need not be put aside during this fight. Cancer does not have the power to take our joy. We have to surrender it to lose it.
It has only been 3 weeks since Andrea was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and our life has been a consumed by emotions. One escape we had from all this was our friends the Duvalls. Their faith, friendship, and advice has kept our heads above water us these first weeks. They have brought us into their family and made us feel loved. Their prayers have been a daily source of strength and have sustained us. The first place I drove after we heard the diagnosis was the Duvall’s. I needed to talk, but more importantly I think I did not want to be alone. That is how much they have meant to us, and I thank God that He placed us together for this season in our life.
Today the Duvall’s, Mike Lori Jo, their children Brack, Anna and Emmaline and Lori Jo’s parents, kindly invited us along on their day at the beach. They took a day that would have been care free and brought along a family burdened and hurting. They shared our pain when they could have easily just gotten away from it all. They did not have to invite us but they did. That is true friendship; that is the body of Christ lived out. For us it was a day to get away from cancer, death and sickness, today was a day at the beach just our two families. It was a day I do not want to forget for many reasons. First, it was a day of normalcy amidst the craziness of our life. Second, because I saw Andrea enjoying life with friends. Most importantly I heard Andrea laugh once again. When life is reduced to life and death it tends to make your life so serious you forget to just enjoy life. To be able to do what most people don’t even think about, just live, to be concerned about the simple events of life and to enjoy the small things like a day at the beach. Today was a day to be normal. Today was a day to learn about fear, friendship and living.
After relaxing on the beach I decided to enjoy some time in the ocean. I was out in the water and to my surprise I saw Andrea coming into the ocean with Emmaline and Lori Jo. First you must know that Andrea’s biggest fear, other then public speaking, is water and more specifically the ocean and the waves. As she walked into the water I went to meet her. With every wave that came at her I saw the fear in her eyes. I held her hand and we walked out jumping over the waves together. As the waves grew and the water was deeper, the waves began to get in her face and nose so I took her in my arms to elevate her petite body above the waves. We walked out to waist deep water, surrounded by our families. Andrea seemed to gain strength by seeing us around her. The longer we stayed her excitement grew and her fear subsided as she saw that together we were okay. I felt her relax in my arms and I heard her laughter in my ear. I loved holding her and protecting her when she was afraid. I loved being there for her as she faced this fear in her life. I loved seeing her smile and laugh as she realized the fear was not necessary.
Afterwards Andrea and I went for a walk on the beach with Anna and Emmaline. As Andrea and the girls walked ahead of me I looked as they walked hand-in-hand. They were on the hunt for shells and shark teeth. I had such a happiness and joy watching their excitement when they found a sand dollar. The girls’ were totally comfortable being with Andrea without hair. They never showed even a moment of embarrassment as people looked at Andrea with understandable curiosity. Just watching the pure love and friendship of those girls was so beautiful. Andrea was normal, she was not a cancer patient at that moment she was just on a walk with friends. I was overjoyed because I know how much Andrea loves being with Anna and Emmaline. She truly loves those girls. I thought thank you God for such a wonderful day and a great memory. Thank you that I'm not afraid to remember. July 24th 2005, was the beginning of life again. Sure we would face many more difficult days but today was just a day at the beach with friends.
I wish I had brought my camera.