Carolyn began her chemo yesterday at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. The tenth floor hasn't changed very much from our last go-round there. You walk into what used to be a dual-occupancy room, and there are three nice easy-chairs there. A nurse checks you in, orders your chemo meds from the pharmacy, and then you wait as she preps you (needles and tubes) for the procedure.
While there, you'll visit with the other families receiving treatment. The other two who were there when we arrived were both from Cabot. There is a warm camaraderie with fellow chemo patients. The older fellow who was receiving his first chemo as well had a hard time sitting still that long and would take his chemo stand (it has wheels) down the hall, back and forth, on walks while it dripped.
The time varies depending on how quickly your meds arrive and how much you have to take. Caro has had a 4-hour bag before, but this regimen went rather quickly, taking only about an hour and fifteen minutes after it got started. The whole process was a little over four hours, but we can shave some of that off next time.
As she sat there being prepped, she had her blanket and pillow from home, a bag with books and magazines, her standard large mug of Diet Pepsi (or water), her iPhone and headphones, and an admiring husband. As the room crowded with other family members, I left my seat to make room for others and camped out in the lobby, reading and drifting off in intermittent sleep. (I awoke at one point with my goatee sopping from drool. Rather disconcerting.)
The long afternoon allowed much time for reflection. Most of it was spent worrying over finances, honestly. However, in my finer moments of surrendering those to the Lord, I was able to focus more clearly on my blessings - chief of which is my aforementioned hero. She may not have blue tights with a big red S across her chest (hmmmm.... Valentine's Day idea....), but this little girl from Hobbs, New Mexico flies higher in my opinion than Supes ever could.
We will have been married 17 years this May. And she is more beautiful, lovely, and delightful to me than she has ever been. Our relationship has grown from being best friends during our courtship to lovers to being soul companions for life. No, we are not perfect. I've been wrong two or three times in the past 17 years, or is it just 1-2? The truth is that even our most glaring imperfections are part and parcel of our mutual love for one another.
Carolyn may not be faster than a locomotive, but because her faith and trust are absolutely fixed on the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, she is stronger than any army. I marvel at the Lord's grace on display through her. I cannot brag on her without bragging on her (and our) God. For it is He that has created in her through faith such a wonder-work. I thank Him continually for a wife that fears and follows Him and who is able to rejoice and laugh even in hardship.
This is not to say that her every moment is spent skipping through spiritual tulips. No, there have been many moments of anguish, tears, and evaporated strength. She has fallen down many times. However, it is where she falls that makes all the difference. I say with great pride and gratitude that she is able, through loving grace, to direct her falls to the feet of her Savior.
It is there that she continually drinks of the cup of renewal, hope, and peace. I am an eyewitness to the miraculous time and again as I watch a loving God pour out needed provision into her life. And I stand amazed at the inner strength and levity that Carolyn displays constantly as she keeps on keeping on.
She is my hero.
I tell folks all the time that the reason she has endured three, now four bouts with cancer is because God knows that I am a wimp. I wrap up in the fetal position when I get a sinus infection. Carolyn, however, presses on. I've witnessed the divine comfort cycle operate in and through her:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1.3-5
Over the years she's spoken and encouraged so many who are encountering cancer or overwhelming circumstances. Her life speaks a better a witness to those than any eloquent words I could ever write.
She is my hero.
She has multiple laughs that are worth experiencing. One is a girlish giggle that is like drinking hot chocolate on a winter day. It warms you through and through. Another is a full rip-snorting cackle that will cause you to reach for the TV remote to turn the volume up if she's on the phone and laughing. And she's got another, throaty chuckle - a kind of "heh-heh-heh" that she will do in moments when she finds great, wicked humor in her husband's self-caused pain or accident.
Her wisdom is remarkably self-restrained. Early in our marriage, we verbalized the quality of people that we most enjoy in each other and in our closest friends: real and honest. We both hate drama and game-playing. We would rather folks say what they mean and mean what they say. We deeply value genuine people and vulnerable transparency. Carolyn, however, is a master of loving self-restraint. I've discovered that it's not that she doesn't have an opinion on things. It's that she practices wise choices about when to verbalize it (if ever). This may be her greatest challenge, because we've had hundreds of conversations where it's plain she's reached her limit of keeping quiet and is about to unleash her thoughts on an unsuspecting friend or relative. Just know that if it happens to you, she's prayed, thought, deliberated and considered things from every side. And she's right. Darnit.
She's my hero.
I know she'll be reading this at some point (she's been in bed all day after yesterday) and when her eyes are skimming these words, she'll be intensely embarrassed that I've once again put her life in front of others. She hates that. She detests being the center of attention. She'll be nodding at this point, I guarantee you. However, her life, in my opinion, is worth extolling. It's a gift to me and to everyone who will watch and take notes. Few people that I know have so much to communicate through a life of proving that she means what she believes. I just am blessed to be married to one.
And finally, let me do some Valentine's Day preparation. She's beautiful. I'm grateful to the Lord that I have a crush on my wife. I would pursue and woo her all over again. I may start today.
She's my hero.