Greetings friends and family,
I don't ever want to take a picture like this again.
My sphere of responsibility and influence is relatively small when compared to CEOs and kings. I have Kendra, my twins, my job, my ministry roles, and a handful of relationships. That's about it. The one person I'm most responsible for is Kendra. Above everything else in life she is my priority. That's why seeing her in pain or troubled or frustrated is extremely difficult for me to experience. She is her own independent person and individual, apart from me, but my role as a husband is to provide a covering for her where she can become the person she was created to be. I love to see her blossom and grow and mature and experience the freedom of being funny and silly. All of the ways she expresses herself must have a platform or safe space to happen. A hospital is one of the most difficult places to create this type of atmosphere.
That picture shows me doing the best I can as a husband. I can't fight cancer (no one can in their own strength) but I can love on Kendra and build her confidence that everything is going to be OK.
I sat around in the waiting room for more hours this past week than I wanted, but I made the most of the stillness and isolation. I rested. I wasn't striving. there is nothing to strive for. Many people i've talked too are so bent on "doing" something to fix the situation but it turns into a hamster wheel that tires them out. I have no desire to wear myself out trying to figure out something to do just because our culture says "do better and try harder". That method of life produces stress, worry, and heart attacks. It's not that I don't care. I really do! I just realize the limits of my human capabilities and choose to rest in knowing what is God's part and what's my part. (see first picture of this post for an image of what is my part). I rest, wait, pray, believe, agree, encourage. When that list becomes who I am instead of just what I do, then my role as a husband is very clear.
I asked Layla if she wanted to dress up as spider-girl and go surprise Mommy. She immediately said, "yes!" I asked Easton and he said, "nooooooooo! People will stare at me. " I have no idea when he decided his value is determined by people around him, but we will definitely be working on this in the near future. Anyway, he finally agreed. We dressed up, drove to the hospital and made our way through the corridors towards Kendra's room. Staff and visitors were taking pictures, giving us high-fives and smiling (or chuckling) at our silliness. We walked in Kendra's room and the 5 seconds of joy and laughter was worth the entire effort.
Kendra was able to go for a few laps around her hospital floor. The 4 Webbs were reunited as superheros as we walked... slowly... down the halls. The thrill of the week for me was holding her hand and walking together. A few days before this picture was taken she passed out from the pain of a fractured vertebrae. Here she is smiling and walking with tolerable pain. This is a miracle.
I spent so much time in the hospital over the past week I created this top ten list in about 5 minutes off the top of my head. Here's what I learned:
10. I know way more about cancer than I ever wanted to.
9. Nurses are some of the most unhealthy people I have ever seen. Just a generalization... I know some health-conscious nurses.
8. The daily prayer over the loud speaker has less life than a morgue managed by Ben Stein.
7. The sleeping cots are rejects from WWII barracks. Bring an air matress
6. If you ever valued the privacy of your body, you won't care anymore after day 2
5. Bring your own box of tissues! The travel pack provided by the hospital costs about $36 each.
4. REM sleep is not valued at all, but precisely monitored. As soon as you enter REM sleep, a nurse will poke you with a needle or ask you game show questions.
3. Giving nicknames to the resident doctors such as "Mr. Straight-face" and "rookie" will not garner favor
2. when the Oncologist asks if you have anymore questions, she really doesn't want to hear your questions. She's just being nice.
1. The nurse's mobile stations run on Windows XP. I seriously doubt they are using cutting edge technology in surgery if the customer-visible computers are based on 14-YEAR-OLD software.
While Kendra was being discharged from the hospital she insisted I take her mom and the twins to the Cubs spring training game because I won free tickets through my work. That may sound crazy to think "her mother and husband went to a baseball game while she sat in the hospital?", but this is the kind of assurance and peace we have in Kendra's health and healing. We had awesome seats in the shade with a buffet of food to stuff our faces.
We were up close and personal with the Cubs and Indians. Easton said, "I can see their faces!" unlike the A's game where we were way up high in the nosebleed section of the outfield.
The Cubs mascot, whose name I don't even know, came by our little corner of the stadium. He had a fishing rod and reel with a rubber spider on the hook-end of the line. He bent over the railing and dangled it in the hair of the unsuspecting fans in the stands below. We all laughed at their reactions, but I felt bad for those suffering from arachnophobia. Anyway, we got to pose for a picture. Afterwards Layla said, "I got 3 hugs, 2 high-fives, and picture!" She measures her success in relational interactions. Way to go Layla. Easton said, "I wonder how his head stays on?" Good job Mr. engineer...
Kendra is home! "Rest In Peace" doesn't have to be experienced in death. Kendra is resting in peace tonight and having the best sleep since she was admitted to the hospital seven days ago. Even though her body is worn down and wounded from surgery she is thrilled to be in her own bed.
The oncologists' best guess is for 19 weeks of treatment including CyberKnife radiation for her bone cancer, then chemo and radiation for her body. This is a long road to travel, but at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am believing for full recovery and restoration of Kendra's health.
Thankful report #1: The pathology report for her ovarian cancer tumor rates it as a 1C... whatever that means. My limited understanding is that the cancer did not spread beyond her ovaries. This is great news!
Thankful report #2: I am thankful her vertebrae fractured. Without it, we wouldn't have discovered the cancer in her ovaries until it metastasized to a more advanced stage.
Thankful report #3: The stage of her bone cancer is lower than first thought, but the full pathology report will not be available until early next week.
One afternoon I took the twins to the park. It is so strange to be in the middle of life and also in the middle of Kendra's circumstances. I'm standing in a park with dozens of parents and kids running around me and none of them know what I'm going through. I don't know what any of them are going through. For many situations in life I think from this perspective. If a person is zoned out at a stop light in front of me and misses the green light or when a mother screams at her kid in a parking lot I don't get angry. I think, "I wonder what that person may be going through?" It's a way of viewing humanity through eyes of compassion instead of judgment. I hope others see me the same way, but whether they do or not doesn't define who I am or affect me. I stopped being offended by anyone a long time ago. I want to live an un-offendable life.
Anyway, the three of us had a blast at the park as usual. They played with other kids for a while, but at one point went down the long twisty slide together head-first. Layla slid down to the end, then Easton. The two of them look very much like twins when they're upside down.
Kendra received several floral arrangements in the hospital and at home. We spread them all over the house. It's a metaphor for bringing life into Kendra's situation. I'm not a big fan of flowers, but Kendra appreciates them very much. Lots of color and fragrances and life going on around our house.
See you soon