On New Year’s Day 2015 I had a sense we were moving into a much harder phase of Beth’s journey. After Easter she began having more pain and she needed more breaks from the chemo treatments. We had to rush her to the emergency room of our local hospital on the evening of May 24th. An MRI showed that one of the tumors was pressing against her ureter causing a serious blockage. The doctors decided she needed to be transferred to the University of Penn Hospital in downtown Philadelphia.
As I was driving to Philadelphia the next morning to see her I called my brother-in-law Ronn. Ronn is an ordained minister. He married Beth and me thirty-one years ago. I said, “Ronn, why doesn’t life ever get easier?” He said, “Because we aren’t home yet. This world is not our home.” After I hung up the phone, I couldn’t stop thinking about a song I sang in church when I was a young boy called, “This World is not my Home.”
The doctors at UPenn were trying to figure out what to do as they studied Beth’s MRI’s. I was supposed to go visit my ninety-three year old mom on Thursday, but I was ready to cancel the trip. Our pastor came all the way downtown to visit Beth on Wednesday of thatsame week. Philadelphia is over an hour from the area where we live and attend church. If you get caught in rush hour (which begins about 3pm it can take much longer.) We had a nice visit with him and before he left he prayed over Beth. Our doctor came by the room less than an hour after the Pastor and she said, "I think we can shrink the tumor a little which willttake a bit of the pressure off and help with the pain.” She then looked at me and asked, “Would you like to take your bride home tonight?” I said, “YES!!!” Beth being Beth looked at the doctor and said, “will you tell this man to go visit his ninety-three year old mother in Wisconsin tomorrow?” She looked at me and said, “go visit your mother tomorrow because your wife will be fine until next week when we do the procedure.”
Beth was always thinking about everyone else. That was her gift. She was compassionate, caring and understanding. I went to Wisconsin and had a nice three day visit with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and several nieces and nephews.
The next week Beth’s had a stint put in and she felt so much better. I remember bringing her home aftreward and she had a craving for rainbow sherbet. I drove to three different grocery stores until I found it. When I got home she was on the phone with her cousin, Mark. We hadn’t heard from Mark in decades, but he and Beth had the best conversation. It ended with Mark telling Beth how very much he loved her.
I think in my heart I knew this might be our last summer with Beth. I wanted it to be the best summer ever. Beth’s niece, Lisa, was bringing her family for six days in mid-June and I remember working in the yard and around the pool so that everything would be perfect. Lisa, her husband, Jim, and their two boys, Jake and Ryan, stayed at our house. Jake was eleven and Ryan was seven. My grandson, Cole, was five at the time and was so excited to hang out with his older cousins. Since they live in California, that was the first time they met each other.
The boys slept in the basement on air mattresses and they had a blast. They turned our basement into a boys’ dormitory. They had so much fun swimming in the pool all day and well into the evenings. They thought night swimming with the pool lights on was the coolest. We had campfires, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Jake and Ryan had never seen fireflies, so we got some jars and poked air holes in the lids and captured some. They were amazed at the fireflies’ ability to light up so we did some online research and had a little biology class.
Beth was doing well and enjoying every minute. I would often catch her eye and she would give me her “Life is good” smile. She seemed so happy that I didn’t want that week to end. They left on Monday, June 22nd to go to New Jersey where they were meeting Beth’s other niece, Kim, and her husband, Chris.
What Beth didn’t know was that Kim and Chris were driving over to visit us on Friday. We surprised Beth when they showed up. Again, we had the best day hanging out and watching the USA Women’s Soccer team play in the World Cup. Beth cried when Kim and Lisa said, “good-bye.” She would see them one more time.
Beth felt good enough to go down to Avalon, New Jersey the second week in July. We rented a house close to the beach for the week with Kirstyn’s in-laws and all of their kids (that was the fourth summer in a row we vacationed together.) I had to work Saturday and Sunday night on QVC but we went down early Monday and had a wonderful week. There is something about the ocean that is so calming and soothing. Beth and I were the last to leave on Saturday so we went to breakfast in town before we left. I remember on the ride home Beth wasn’t feeling well, so she slept most of the way.
As I look back now I’m glad I didn’t know what lied ahead. The next three and a half months were going to be the toughest any of us had ever faced. Through all of the dark days and the emotional roller coasters we rode there were miracles. God gave us little signs that were often very personal to let us know that we were not walking through the valley alone. In the coming weeks I will write about the miracles I saw along the way.
Thank you for reading this and God bless!
If you would like to see any of my past blogs, click here.
And let's be friends on Facebook by clicking here.
QVC is not responsible for the availability, content, security, policies, or practices of the above referenced third-party linked sites nor liable for statements, claims, opinions, or representations contained therein. QVC's Privacy Statement does not apply to these third-party web sites.