8 hours of chemo in the IV, 112 chemo pills, scores of nausea pills, vitamins, and the occasional sleeping pill all in four weeks time. Two times a day he sits at the kitchen table, pills lined up, fingers tapping as he wills another one down with a swig of gingered drink. In a month I think back to all the family meals where he smiled and tried to eat a bite of what his boys inhaled at a speed only growing boys can accomplish. Late mornings and early nights, the grey furred blanket wrapped around him tight. You can get lost in the pill counting, hour counting, the blur of getting through another day, week, and round. His hair will stay, and his crinkled eyed smile will also. And apart from a much skinnier, more mellow Jeff, he still banters with the boys, and asks me how my heart is really doing.
One of the things we have changed in as a family is how much we give thanks. Focusing on what has been given in the day instead of what feels taken. We have always been thankful for our life here in Scotland. But now we are saying them out loud. A verbal record of the good and not just the hard.
A morning talk with mugs of tea between us. Sipping and talking, lingering at the sunlit table after the line of pills has been swallowed.
The days he feels well and comes down with his collar shirt buttoned, bag slung over a shoulder and keys in his hand ready to meet with students and leaders.
The walk with Levi, their heads disappearing from my view from the kitchen window. How is Levi almost as tall as the father that always towered above him?
Luke asking questions about prayer and love. Jeff's brow knitting to match Luke as they talk. Two thinkers trying to figure out life together.
Ian rushing in to show dad his latest drawing, Lego build, or story. He reminds me often that he is not my son, only dad can call him son, but I can call him my Ian.
YL Open Mic Night in St.Andrews. Students singing, staff friends helping, and leaders shining.
A date night filled with fancy food and sharing our hearts, remembering, and hoping together.
Lion King on family movie night. I left during the sad parts, Ian yelling after that the sad parts aren't that sad because it is all about love and the circle of life.
Shoulders that are still broad to lean on, a hand that engulfs mine in its grasp.
We are noticing the flowers blooming, and grass changing to the brightest green.
The people surrounding our days, the ones that spill out love, and encouragement, and prayers.
There is so much more to count. To recall and to thank God for everything we have been given is impossible. But our humble attempts are shaping our hearts in a season we did not expect.
Jeff got back from round two late Saturday night. His best friend from High School, Nick, flew out to be with him this time. What a gift we have in friendships. Jeff seems to be tolerating this round better than last. Though trying to explain his days is like trying to describe the ocean in one word. What could be still and calm in the morning can turn into foam topped waves by midday. And so this morning was good. And good for this morning meant that Jeff played Uno with the older boys and connect four with Ian even though he was fatigued and achy. Good was that he ate two eggs, baked beans, and black pudding for breakfast and he didn't feel like he would lose it later. Good is him now sleeping soundly upstairs as I type this. And good later today would be that he can send out some e-mails and make some phone calls before three boys bound into the office to talk of their latest adventures.
This week when people ask how things are, I say our feet have finally found the ground again. We are moving forward expecting a good God to give exactly what we will need for each moment of each day. We are laughing, crying, and praying together more than ever before. And we know God will accomplish more than we could ever ask or hope for in this season.
In a week in a half we will have two uncles, one aunt, two nieces, and five other close friends come to our little village to love on Jeff and the boys. Jeff had a great idea when all of this hit that is now being put into action and I can't wait to share it with you as it unfolds.
Thank you for all the love and prayers. Thank you for walking with us as we thank God for the beautiful gifts along this hard road.