A post from Michael, the dragon slayer.
A couple of weeks ago, I got that early morning call that no one wants to get. It was my mom, and she said that my dad was in an ambulance headed towards Kirksville. I didn’t ask what was going on, or when they would arrive, I simply said “I’ll be there”.
That’s something that my dad taught me, to be there for those that are important to you. As a kid, there weren’t any of my football games that went by where he wasn’t standing on the sideline. At my basketball games, he had his spot by the doors on the south baseline. He never said much. He was always there. Things haven’t changed as I’ve gotten older. Most often he’s still my first call when I have a problem, and he never fails to be there when I need him. And as my kids have grown, he and mom show the same commitment to them as I was fortunate enough to know when I was a kid.
Well, now that man was lying in a hospital bed suffering a heart attack. It was hard to see my hero, the guy who had been invincible for all those years while I was growing up, fighting for his life. I remember gently grabbing dad’s foot in the emergency room that morning, saying a small prayer, and telling God “you know I would take his place if I could”. I’ve had that thought before. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to talk God into letting me take the burden of Cancer, and all the hellish things that go with it, instead of Serenity. Or how many times I’ve asked why the beautiful young daughter of our friends has to face diabetes, and wished that it could be some old guy like me instead of her. I’ve lived out my youth, I’ll take it. I don’t know what makes me think I could handle it better than them, I guess I really don’t think that, I just wish they didn’t have to face it. And if I could, I would take the pain so they wouldn’t have to. But, we each have our own path to walk, our own trials to face. As much as we’d like to, we can’t face the trials of our loved ones in their place, but we can face it with them. Our place is standing strong next to those we love when they are weak. We are to put their arm around our neck and carry them, when they do not have the strength to walk their path.
The day my dad was released to come home after having his heart surgery, Serenity and I were in Kansas City getting news that we didn’t want. There is a spot in Serenity’s lung that needs to come out. This means another surgery. It will make five. I would die for this woman, so you know that I would gladly get on that operating table in her place. But I can’t. I can’t take it for her, but I’m going to throw her arm around my neck and help her get through this. And through trials like the one that Serenity is facing, or what my dad has endured, it’s an awesome thing to see family and friends rally around those who need a little help walking their path. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” I’ve seen this truth lived out over and over in my life, and it never ceases to amaze me. This is the way we are supposed to live, and where our desire to spare someone pain and suffering comes from. A love for someone other than ourselves.
I’ve never had to look cancer in the face. My wife amazes me with her strength, her faith, and her ability to fight. I don’t know why cancer tries, she kicks its ass every time. I’ve never endured a heart attack and bypass surgery. Even through that, my dad was that invincible hero I remember as a kid. Calm, cool, collected, let’s get this done. As strong as they both are, neither had to fight the battle alone. The rest of us just walked alongside them on their path for a while, helping when they needed it. Someday it may be me facing something like this, but I have the comforting thought of knowing that my family and friends will be standing close by to support me, wishing they could take my place. I know this, because I’ve seen them do it.