After I was electrocuted in seminary, Betsy would tell friends all she wanted was for things to be normal again (there are those who claim that I have been abnormal ever since, but I digress). For many people normal sounds boring. After all, most of us want some excitement and challenge in our life.
After my brush with death back then, though, we were both ready to settle down a little bit with me no longer wandering the halls of a hospital trying to kiss people, run the nurses’ station, and saying whatever embarrassing thing that came to my mind (I can’t be held responsible – 12,000 volts of electricity can do strange things to a person).
Me in the hospital after being electrocuted
“Normal” can be an illusive thing in life. After I was diagnosed with cancer, normal went on vacation again. We have felt like Abram when he was called to a “land which he knew not of” (Genesis 12:1). Cancer robs you of normal. Everything you had taken for granted in life now has to be fought for again – even the very days you have on this earth.
That’s why good days and weeks and months are an amazing gift from God to me. You see, I am of the opinion that He owes me nothing. That everything “bad” in my life is a necessity and everything good is an undeserved grace. That’s why it’s so exciting that “normal,” as best she can, has begun to hang out with us again. Having her around feels amazingly special. The glory of ordinary things can almost take my breath away.
That said, let me take you on a brief tour of normal at our house these days:
After running out of firewood for this winter (I have always cut my own), our dear friend, Carrie, showed up recently with her car filled up with wood. A friend had given it to her to give to us. We love fires. Sitting in front of them with a good Merlot, soft music playing, my dog next to me, and a book? A slice of heaven.
Home made Concord grape jelly from another dear friend (thanks, Anita) graces our table frequently. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I just eat it out of the jar. With my eyes closed. It makes me wonder if I am already in heaven.
This is my oncologist’s medical assistant, Alda. She helps keep me alive to enjoy these normal days. If you are an insurance company that doesn’t want to approve one of the drugs I am on (see http://wedonotloseheart.com/no-xtandi-for-you/), be afraid – very afraid. Fierce doesn’t even begin to cover it. Her spirit is indomitable. She won’t know it until she reads this, but I’m pretty much in love with her – even though she sticks needles in me all the time.
Speaking of needles, it now feels normal to be poked and jabbed; injected and infused. All in a day’s work. Have I told you how grateful I am for the medicines that are keeping me alive? You people from Bayer, Algeta, and Medivation who are reading this – your work matters – so very much. I am grateful for you all. I truly am.
I get a lot of email, but none as good as this: the recipe for “bacon bourbon brownies.” Close your eyes and say that again very slow. I didn’t even know such a thing existed this side of heaven. This meal will now become a normal part of my diet. My wife (who baked these) and the woman who sent me the recipe (who must remain nameless) be praised. UPDATE: due to popular demand, recipe provided in comments below!
Adler is our two-year-old Golden Retriever – another good gift from God. I had a dog as a boy, so it feels normal (and incredibly special) to have her beside me as a faithful companion. The vet just told us she is overweight, though (too much pizza and beer). She is now on a strict diet and can’t really cheat, so I’ll have her back in fighting trim soon. And, yes, I love her so very much. UPDATE: I just helped her cheat. I am a very bad man. But I love my dog.
This is Cora, our youngest granddaughter. She is the one who was born in our bathtub a year ago. Every time I see her, I think my heart is going to explode. She was toddling around our house yesterday, hugging Adler, getting knocked down by her wagging tail, and just leaving a trail of glorious, sparkling love wherever she went. Okay, it feels like my heart is going to explode again, so I’ll stop there.
This is Lina, our first granddaughter. She spent the night with us last night because she is all grown up and can do stuff like that now. Yesterday we cleaned the pool, raked some leaves and then took a swing on our amazing, magical tree swing. I can still hear her say, “Gwanddad, do it again.” If I do, I get leg hugs.
This is our daughter, Andrea. She manages a Christian health clinic in Richmond, VA. We love her immensely, but don’t get to see her as much as we would like. A “bad” normal. But her birthday is coming up and we are going to be there for it! Getting on a plane is normal for many of you. It used to be for me. Thanks be to God, it is becoming normal again. See you soon, sweetheart!
Thanks for taking this little tour. And thanks to those in my life who have made my days normal, and so incredibly special, again. Life is full of glorious, ordinary things, isn’t it? Don’t miss them!
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” ~ Mother Teresa