Monday, November 26, 2007
ICU Day 2 26 Nov 2007
I guess I have been preparing myself for this the potential of losing Andrea. Over the last two years I have run through my mind Andrea’s obituary more times then I can count. What would I write to try to capture this most unique, and special woman, mother, wife, and friend. My mind would race to the funeral, what would I do, how would I plan it, where should it be? Questions asked far before their time. It is hard when it seems the only escape you see is the one thing you are fighting to avoid. I hated it when I had those thoughts, but I could not stop them. They are part of the cancer package you receive when the doctor tells says you have incurable stage IV cancer. Yes there are many things in that package. Fear, worry, dread, darkness, gloom, and the heaviness on you shoulders you can’t seem to shake. But you bring your own package to the party. You bring faith maybe not enough, actually never enough because life had rarely asked for this much faith. But what you don’t have you gain, you carve it; you seek it because it is your lifeline. You also bring family and friends. Those who stand beside us and help carry the weight we bear. Those who call knowing when you dial the phone you don’t know what to say. Those who write letters who struggle to find the words to express your thoughts. Those who pray and find you are unable to express what you feel but by faith sit in silence. This is also included in the package you receive with cancer and we have been blessed to have families of faith and friends who love us, all willing to walk with us on this journey. Never fleeing when times are hard, only drawing closer. I hear the concern in your voices and the worry in your e-mails. I understand the lack of words you have at a time when there seems nothing you can say other then, “We are praying for you.” I want you to know those words are strength to my soul.
I was talking to one of Andrea’s friends today and she began to cry. The reality of the situation was hitting her, as it has me. I’m sure her mind was racing to places she did not want to go. It is as if you mind takes off with an idea and you loose control of where it takes you. You don’t want to go down that path but before you know it events yet to be are suddenly played out as if they are certin. It was then that I was reminded that this is as hard for you on the other side of these pages as it is for me. Those who have fallen in love with Andrea as I have but who can not be here to offer her the comfort of a touch, a kiss or just the strength she gives when you are by her side. I know you struggle with what to do, all offering to help in any way. I want you to know I’m sorry you have to deal with this. You are volunteers in this fight, but you are no less committed then I am. I think in many ways your struggle is harder then mine because I’m with Andrea and I have been there in the night when she asks for prayer, or for some ice water. I have been able to give her physical help and I feel I’m doing something to fight against the enemy that stalks us. I have shared in her victories and her struggles, as you but you have to do it from afar. And I know the wondering makes the worry grow. The voids created by the distance seemed to be filled with thoughts of the worst outcome. And again you find your mind racing to places and outcomes you would rather not think about. I have tried to keep you informed in hopes that you will feel closer and in some way I hope I have helped carry some of the weight you bear on this journey.
Sometimes cancer does not allow us the ability to ignore the worst. When the doctor tells us Andrea’s lungs are mostly cancerous you are taken down that path whether you like it or not. It is not the same as my mind filling the voids with unknowns and what ifs; this is more the unknowns being filled in by reality. The truth is Andrea is terminal; cancer will take her life without a miracle. I do believe in that miracle for many reasons and those are not born out of my own desires but out of a faith and past answered prayers. But I know the enemy we face. I know his ways; he is predictable in his methods. The play has been written by those before us and the doctors know the script by heart. Ours is a hope in the unwritten portion. The part of the play known only to God. The author and completer of our faith.
Andrea and I have talked many times about the reality of what she faced. She is honest with herself and her prayers for my life. But she is also a fighter and she fights because she believes God can heal her. She fights because she has so much life to live, grandkids to see, sons to watch grow into men, and a family she loves. She fights because of all of you, those she was blessed to call friends. Each one of you so unique, and so special. I always noticed one common thread about Andrea’s friends. They may have come from different walks of life; been at different stages of life, but they all had one thing in common, honesty. You are genuine. Andrea loved those who were not afraid to be themselves, people who were honest, and true to themselves. Not perfect in anyway, real people who had real struggles. In fact it was your ability to be open with your faults that Andrea respects so much. Andrea does not like to pretend life is perfect, life is real to her. Struggles with raising kids are real for her and she did not like to pretend she had the perfect family or perfect kids. She was learning along the way and her friends allowed her to be open and you in turn were open with her. I think it was that quality more then anything that made her relationships so deep and close. Her friends became like family, someone she could expose her weaknesses to and feel loved no matter what. It was a deep bond born from honesty. Each of you are special in your own way, but I think each of you had this common thread. I think that is what drew many of you to Andrea. She was non-threatening, physically yes, but also as a person. You knew you could trust her that she would never hurt you or use things you shared against you. Andrea loves as love should be. She is faithful and trusting, never condemning but always challenging. I’m always amazed how people always feel comfortable talking to Andrea, especially young girls. Andrea has a special calling to witness to your girls. She loves being with them and they love being with her.
Of course Andrea is scared at times. This past week was one of them. I think we were both scared. This trip to the hospital was different than before, I just felt it. When I came in today and Andrea seemed far from me, trapped between two worlds. I wanted to tell her it was okay to go to release her but in my selfishness I could not. The events of the past 24 hours were far too familiar to what I have played out in my mind. Cancer in its cruel ways would put us right where we are, in the hospital, in ICU, Andrea’s fragile life in the balance. She is tired, exhausted from the fight. In my mind cancer mocks us as if to say, “Who are you with your faith to fight me, I am cancer your worst fear and I choose to end this.” But truth be known our ability to talk about death and the physically reality of cancer is our way to say, “We mock you cancer, you have no authority here. Your threats are empty, because Christ defeated death. We are sons and daughters of God, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and our time is in his hands not yours. You can only act out what God has allowed.” We are not hiding our heads in the sand and pretending this is not serious, but we are also not giving cancer authority is does not deserve. It cannot take what we do not give it. Our faith and our love is ours to keep, not for cancer to take from us. It can take physical life. And that is hard for us, but as believers we are no longer citizens of this world, and the definition of life is no longer restricted to this world.
Besides Andrea is a Brumley (Her mom’s maiden name.) As the story goes her uncle was at a bar and someone wanted to start a fight with him. Her uncle said, “My names Brumley, lets step outside.” That pretty much sums up the fight in Andrea. She gets it honest as they say in Texas. That combined with the faith from her father’s side and you see what makes her who she is, a woman of faith with the fight of the dog patch. (The dog patch is what they call the rough part of town.)
If ever cancer has ever met its match physically, he has now. Picking on a 4’ 11” Texan may have been a tactical error cancer will regret. But picking on a 4’ 11” Texan who believes in Christ is without a doubt an error.
On the medical side. Andrea is resting pretty comfortably. The doctors feel more confident this was caused by an infection most likely pneumonia. We will wait for the next two days to see if the infection responds to the antibiotics. If it does her lungs will respond and they will back off the ventilator and eventually remove it. The next two days are critical. If the she does not improve then they will have to continue to search for the cause of her breathing difficulty. That would not be good. I will not sugar coat this situation, it is very serious and Andrea’s life is very fragile right now. Pneumonia in a patient with weak lungs is life threatening. But the mountain to us is nothing to God, He made the mountain.
For those of you seeking how you can help please pray for the doctor’s wisdom, the nurse’s strength, and Andrea’s healing. Pray every mountain would be removed and cast into the sea and God would be glorified in Andrea’s healing. May His name be lifted up and lives be changed no matter the outcome.
Posted by Jim Ravella