Holding My Breath

Pat’s Story:

It seems far away now but my story starts with a headache, a really bad headache. Then followed the doctors, the meds, the hospital, the MRIs.  Time seemed to move so very fast, and then suddenly, Easter Sunday 2005, my world screeched to a halt. We sat there, looking at each other dumb-founded…my husband has a brain tumor, Oh my sweet Lord Jesus!!

The next day we were looking into the face of a doctor who told us that this was no ordinary brain tumor, this tumor was a cancer, an aggressive Astrocytoma called GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME.  Just the name sounds ominous, like an explosion in some distant galaxy. But it wasn’t some random, far away super-nova, it was a tumor in my husband’s brain and our world seemed to violently shake and stand still all at once. “Breathe” I told myself, “just breathe.” I couldn’t. I held my breath AGAIN as I had done so many other times as my husband Jimmy suffered from one health issue after  another over the 9 years we were married. This diagnosis was different. We may not walk away from this one together.

All I wanted to do was breathe and I couldn’t. There we were alone in this pitch black room. Jim just taking it all in, seeming to even rejoice at the idea of “going home.” But we were never alone. God spoke with no words in those days before surgery, after surgery when they took the tumor out….when the tumor came back. He spoke in His quiet steadfast presence, He gave us His hands to hold and He navigated our darkness. I just held my breath and walked. The Lord gave me “every good and every perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow of turning.” I had no idea at the time why that particular scripture resonated so deeply in my heart. All I knew was He was present.

December 27, 2005, 3 am. ”Woosshh,” the familiar sound of the removal of Jimmy’s mask. It woke me up every time and it was usually followed by movement, but this time he was not moving. ”Are you OK?”  “No” I couldn’t breathe.

January 6th 2006, a beautiful day, crisp and cool outside, stunning!!  I had spent all night at the hospice. They said it would not be long. My sweet Jimmy was leaving me here. I wanted more time. I wanted to breathe in a world where he was with me!!  I was sick in body, I was sick in spirit, I was wasted in strength. But God gives only good and perfect gifts and His perfect peace, His perfect Joy and His perfect Presence came to me. So, I held my Jimmy’s hand and told him it was OK to go, I said, “go my love, I will see you on the other side” and so, on that beautiful morning, he went…his last breath was my first in a long, long time…

The journey from the first diagnosis to the end of the story is a hard one. The miracles God wrought along the way I could not enumerate here.  Suffice to say that He gave us the best doctors, the best friends, the most caring church community and the most loving selfless family members in the world as we walked through that pitch dark room holding tightly to Our Father’s Hands.

Since that water-shed day, I have grown to know Jesus as my protector, provider, Master and most recently my “husband.” He has taken me out into the wilderness and spoken tenderly to me (Hosea 2:14, 16). He has brought me through my grief and into a new place of rejoicing like I have never known. It’s been 7 years, Jubilee is mine and my Lord is teaching me every day to just breathe.

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