Tuesday was a day filled with emotions for me… we designed and ordered the headstone that will mark the place where Ben is buried for hopefully the rest of time. It was both an emotional task and a healing one. How do you decide what to say about someone who meant so much to so many people? His mom and I talked about the scriptures and the quotes that we would love included as a reflection of him and there was only one that came to mind for me, 2 Timothy 4:7. There was healing in knowing that years from now people will be able to see how loved and cherished he was.
Tuesday also marked five years since Benjamin’s first brain surgery (and today marks only two years since his last surgery). I can still remember the hours sitting in the waiting room at Vanderbilt waiting for them to call me to the lobby phone for updates from the doctor. I can recall the flood of emotions as I left my two barely one year olds at home to travel to Nashville and face the unknown. And I can still see the faces of the friends and family who gathered to sit and pray with me during the wait.
We had no idea what the next five years would hold for us, but we trusted a God who we knew would bring us out on the other side. The weeks to come were filled with appointments and decisions and in the end we were told that even with the recommended treatment he would only have 1-2 years before there would be nothing left that the doctors could do. Ben faced the news with grace and with faith that God was in control of it, just like he did with everything in life.
I don’t remember a day going by in the next 4.5 years when we didn’t pray and thank God for Ben’s healing. He long outlived the doctor’s prognosis and he lived his life well and to the fullest. He never stopped believing he would be healed and often last summer I would hear him tell people that his latest scans were coming back clean. Not for one minute did he doubt that God was going to heal him. He had more faith than anyone I have ever met. And I think he knew his healing was coming… even though it wasn’t in the way we expected it to happen.
He fought cancer long and hard, and he gave it his all… just like he did everything in life. His healing didn’t come in the way we expected, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is completely healed from head to toe. It has been a long five years and at the same time, it has flown by. For four and a half years cancer defined everything we did. And even now, I find that it defines what I do some days… whether through the choices I make to eat well or to eat poorly; and through the things I am willing to expose myself and the kids to. I pray that as time passes we will be able to forget some of the affect that cancer had on our lives, but I pray that Ben is never forgotten by me, my children, or anyone else that loved him. He fought long and hard, and with a smile on his face trusting in a God who would eventually bring him healing. He finished the race and never gave up on his faith. If my children can see the impact of that on my life, and on theirs I will feel like I have truly succeeded as a parent.