If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, or you read my last blog post, you know that my heart has been heavy for my friend and neighbor, Elisha Skeen. Metastatic cancer has declared war on her body, and she is literally in a fight for her life.
Until yesterday, the last time I had seen Elisha was when she and her son, Sawyer, came over to check in on me a few weeks after my surgery. I guess that would have been early to mid-November. At that time, she was healthy (considering she was recovering from breast cancer), happy and strong. We tag-teamed Sawyer, not quite 2 years old, who was curiously exploring every bin in our homeschool room. Our visit was cut short when he made a "special gift" in his diaper that just couldn't be ignored.
It really struck me yesterday as I sat at the foot of her hospital bed at the Cancer Center, how much has changed since that day. Now, just 8 weeks later, Sawyer is officially 2 years old. Elisha is no longer healthy. Her husband, Steven, is spending his days at the hospital instead of on the farm.
What struck me even more, is what had not changed. Despite the fact that she is battling cancer for the second time in 14 months... Despite the fact that she had brain surgery just days ago... Despite the fact that she has a button at her fingertips to dispense enough pain medication to cause cardiac arrest in any other person... Elisha is still happy. Elisha is still strong.
She texted me yesterday morning to let me know I could come see her. I was thrilled to hear she was feeling well enough to welcome visitors, and very eager to chat with her. But as we got closer to the hospital, I became more and more nervous. What should I say? What shouldn't I say? What will we talk about? What if she starts crying? What if I start crying?
My heart rate kept climbing the more I thought about it. So I stopped thinking about it, and just prayed. Dear God, please help me to be an encouragement to her. Please guide my words. Please guide my actions. And please help me not to cry.
We met up with her husband, Steven, before going into her hospital room. I know this was a God-send. He updated us on her entire medical journey, and he told me exactly what to expect when I walked in the room.
The entire visit lasted 30 minutes. It was nothing like I expected, and so much better than I prayed for.
Elisha looked great. She had on a cute hat to cover to her "battle scar" from brain surgery. She was wearing glasses, which I'd never seen her in before. And she was smiling. She was so peaceful. I sat at her feet, and we talked about the same things we've always talked about. Our husbands. Our kids. Our bodies. Our hobbies. Our food. It was so... normal.
I've tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine how I would handle the same situation. I just can't believe I would be so at peace. Of course, Elisha and Steven have said they wouldn't be either, if it weren't for God.
I don't know exactly where it is in the Bible, but I know it says that God can provide "a peace that passeth understanding". In the midst of that hospital room, with four different fluid bags pumping all kinds of meds into her body, with bruised arms and IV-scarred hands, with a chemo-dispensing device surgically placed in her brain, there was a peace that passeth understanding.
I walked into the room asking God to help me encourage her, but I left the room feeling encouraged myself.
I don't know why all this is happening to Elisha. But I can say that I am amazed, inspired, encouraged and awed by the way she is handling it.
I can also honestly say, her battle has changed my life. I am more aware of how quickly life can change, and more thankful for the days I have.
Every Sunday, our pastor leads the congregation in singing I am Blessed. It goes like this...
I am blessed.
I am blessed.
Everyday that I live I am blessed.
When I wake up in the morning,
til I lay my head to rest,
I am blessed.
I am blessed.
When I sang those words this morning... Well, I couldn't sing because I couldn't stop crying. As everyone else sang, I stood there with my head in my hands, and I sobbed. Because of Elisha, I know just how blessed I am.
I am so thankful to have the honor to continue to pray for her. I pray God will heal her body, and make her whole again. I pray she and Steven will grow old together and watch their son become a man. I pray that she and I will get to walk up and down "the compound" for many years to come. I'm still asking you do the same. Thank you.