I think some of you are confused in your kindness towards me. Yes, I have terminal cancer. It is a miserable disease that makes me progressively needy (and many days, very hard to live with). I hate this. For the sake of my family and others close to me, I wish we could roll back the clock to when things were “normal” again and I was just like many of you.
What I’m saying is if I could escape this sword of damocles hanging over my head, I would be out of here, without a moment’s thought. So many of you, though, have called me a hero or have spoken of my courage in all of this. Frankly, I think your admiration is misplaced. All I’m doing is asking God every day for the grace to play the hand I have been dealt. It is a very poor hand, but His grace, as promised, has been more than sufficient for me.
When the time comes in this world for you to suffer, I believe you, too, can be given grace to endure. Ask for it, just as I have, and it will be given to you (if I don’t use it all up first!). You’re also going to need some real heroes around you. I’d like to introduce you to some of mine.
What follows is a small representation of the people who have chosen to suffer with me and who have deeply enriched my life as a result. They have hitched their wagon to mine and appear to be willing to go to the end of the tracks with me. I am leaving out hundreds, for which I feel badly, but I want you to see what kindness and grace looks like in the faces of at least a few.
My wife and four daughters (representative daughter, Andrea, seen above with her mother) do something every day that puts them into a class of their own. They love me when I am so often very hard to love (check with them for details). They have done so in the midst of their own grief, piled on top of the responsibilities of their own daily lives. Sacrificial love, grief and the daily grind of life. Lesser women would have collapsed by now. These women help hold me up – every day. They are amazing, each one of them.
This is Dr. Cathy Snapp, my sister-in-law. This past week she organized a conference call prayer time for me (I never even knew such a thing existed). It included people from California to Maine. Family members and dear friends blessed me over and over again as they asked God to heal my body. It was one of the most meaningful things anyone has ever done for me.
Bob Nabell believes that love has to get its hands dirty. Here he is leading a work team that came and replaced a retaining wall that was collapsing at our house. Every couple of weeks he calls me so that he can stay up to date. “So Ed, how are you doing – really?” I come to his house under the pretense of servicing his computers. We always end up sitting on his back porch, laughing, telling stories, and me being kindly served an adult beverage. I love this good man.
Randy Lashua is a Florida Gator. And a great friend. I simply have no explanation. When I got sick, he challenged a group of men to help support my family and I with my medical expenses. Every month I received a check that the doctors quickly took from me. No matter. Randy has made me incredibly rich just by being my friend.
Adler, our Golden Retriever, is a great joy and solace to me in these days. The only one who loves her more than I do is our friend, Carrie Campbell. She comes over most every Saturday and does all the heavy lifting: bathing Adler, cleaning her ears, trimming her butt feathers, and brushing her are all done with cheerfulness in service to our family.
Oh, she also helps me in the yard by cleaning the pool, trimming the shrubs, cleaning out our ditches, painting our deck, blowing, string trimming and a dozen other things that are on my infamous list. I “help” her as I am able and wonder if she’s an angel in disguise. Plus, when we go to the pool store, the owner gives her discounts and carries the heavy bags of chemicals out to the car for her while I hide in the bushes.
Dr. Logan Brooks has an amazing gift. Yes, he is a renown retina surgeon. But to me, he has been the one who has helped keep my eyes on Christ through all of this. Have you ever had a friend that, even if you didn’t see them everyday, just made you feel like you were never alone in life? That would be Logan. Plus, he can make money magically appear on Christmas trees that, to this day, helps to keep us afloat. To him and all of you he shook down, we are grateful beyond words.
I love older people. These are some of my favorites. One of them told me recently that I had been moved to the front of the line in order to teach them how to die well. I think they are teaching me how to live well (aging is way overrated). I guess we disagree about who is teaching who, but mostly they pray for me, put up with me, listen to me, advise me, and love my family and I with a love that could only come from God.
Speaking of old, this is retired cardiologist, Dr. Comer Cherry. Another 3am friend. We have stories that can only be told at my funeral, if then. He hails from Valdosta, GA and is the only person from that metropolis who was arrested for breaking into the jail, not out of it.
Next week, he has graciously agreed to drive with me to New Orleans for my Xofigo – round 2 interview on Wednesday. Upon agreeing to accompany me, he had this to say: “Oh, I have to warn you—modestly I have to admit that I’m a chick magnet—you know, us old bulls put out a powerful musk.” Already, the city shudders, but a better man would be hard to find.
So I have cancer. But please don’t misunderstand. These, and many others, are the true heroes of my story. They are in the trenches with me every day, suffering, serving, caring and loving me. I couldn’t do any of this without them. Without you.
Where do people like this come from?
Thank you, God.