Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Yesterday, I learned that my father has kidney cancer. We are waiting to find out the extent of the disease. Has it spread beyond his kidney? What are the best treatment options? Which doctors should he listen to? The questions keep coming faster than I could hope to type them.

I spoke with my sister who works in the medical field. She's done a lot of research on his particular type of cancer. She is full of questions for doctors and information about different treatment options. She sees this as a challenge to meet head-on. I managed only one Google search: kidney cancer survival rates. The information made me turn off the computer, run up to my bedroom, and fling myself on the bed for a good cry.

My father is not just my father. He is the only grandfather my children, my niece and my nephews have. My sister and I both married men whose fathers have died. My niece has no contact with her father's family. If you know me at all, you know that my grandfather was one of the most important people in my life, until his death (cancer, must be in the genes) when I was 19. BigBro is named for him. Rarely a day goes by that I don't miss him. I do not want the same emptiness for my children. I am not ready to lose my Dad.

So, yesterday afternoon, I had my cry. Then I dried my tears and got to work gathering my prayer friends to help me. My sister is going to fight this with science. I'll fight with prayer.

Later, DH took all of the children to LilBro's soccer practice so that I could have some quiet. I couldn't focus. I couldn't be still. I needed to pray, but I couldn't. I was meeting a friend for mass at 7pm. It was only 6:15, but I left anyway. I drove over to church, parked, and walked into the dusk-darkened chapel. I fell to my knees and began to sob. I knelt there, letting my sorrow take over.

Minutes went by. I was drenched and sweaty. My knees and calves ached. My chest heaved. I felt this sharp pain in my heart, a true heart-ache. In my anguish, I cried out, "Daddy, help me!"

I have never done that before. Never. I have never called the Creator of the Universe "Daddy." This is not my style of prayer, not a representation of the relationship I have had with God. Yet, there it was. I cried out to God from this place deep inside me, in an act of complete surrender. I called him "Daddy." I took on the role of helpless and hurting child, reaching out for comfort from Daddy.

In that moment, without any forethought or consideration, I changed the terms of our relationship. For the first time ever, I believe, I gave myself completely to God, fully trusting in Him.

A while passed. I heard the outer door opening, footsteps in the hall. Slowly, I stood, wandered out to the bathroom to wash my face, and back into the chapel. This time, I turned on the lights, picked up my prayer book, and knelt in a kneeler. I prayed Evening Prayer, pausing often to wipe some tears or blow my nose.

Mass started. I was calm now. My face, still tear-stained. But, I was calm. Paul's words to the Galatians washed over me: "only faith working through love." Faith. Love.

We reached the preparation of the gifts and our Pastor quietly prayed, "Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life." We responded, "Blessed be God forever," and the tears began to fall again, silently.

Blessed be God forever. It felt so right to pray those words.

No matter what happens. Whether they find cancer riddled throughout his body or it is self-contained and easily removable, blessed be God forever. Whether my six year old gets to dance with her grandfather at her wedding or not, blessed be God forever. No matter what happens in my life, blessed be God forever.

When I cried out to Him from the depths of my pain, when I dared to call Him "Daddy," I changed our relationship. I surrendered to Him. I let go of any pretense of control to which I'd clung.

And the only response that feels right to me now is praise. Blessed be God forever. Blessed be He who is, and always was, and always shall be. Blessed be the Lord of all.

Blessed be I AM, even, maybe especially, on those days when I am most aware of all that I am not.


  1. Jen,
    So sorry to hear about your father. Oddly enough I came across your blog because of my own father. I was looking for info on the VOP hemitages you told me about when our kids were in art class last year. My Dad passed away 3 months ago and like you I was not ready to lose him. This is a difficult road to walk and I pray that your family finds the strength and love to face what lies ahead.
    Gena Wich (friend of Jil Y.)

  2. Gena,

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. You've been in my prayers since Jil told me about your dad this summer. I hope that you are doing as well as possible with the grieving process.

    I am going to VOP in the beginning of November. I think you will like it there. It's peaceful. Quiet. There's space to be. And Larry has a wonderful dog who seems to have some sort of incredible healing presence about her. She always brings me peace and calm.

    I hope we'll see each other again when we do art class this winter. Until then, if you need anything, you can reach me at irisheye5 at sbcglobal dot net.