When my husband Bob lost his job after 36 years, our world turned upside down. When he was diagnosed with kidney cancer after only a few months on unemployment, one of his biggest fears was that our family would be bankrupt. For most of our marriage we had depended on his income.
Yet after his diagnosis, Bob asked for only one thing. One of our friends recalls it like this:
After Bob found out that he had cancer he asked our Sunday-school class for prayer. His request was a surprise to most of us. He said, “You know that I have cancer and have a short time to live.“I know what you’re thinking: Doctors can’t know everything, and you’re right. Prayer can make a difference, and you’re right. But that is not what I am asking. I want you to pray that I will be a better person.“Some of you may be thinking that is a fair prayer—that I could be better.” (We all laughed at that.) “Some of you may think it is a strange request, but I am serious. Please pray that I will be a better person.”And then he was quiet, as many of us cried. In the face of death, Bob chose to live in the best possible way, honoring the Lord he loved.
Bob’s battle with cancer lasted only 64 days; by the time it was discovered, it had metastasized to his lungs and bones. Six weeks after his diagnosis he was in hospice; two weeks after that he died, with our son Drew and me at his side.
Many times during those days I found myself saying, “If it were only cancer….” But it’s never only cancer. When you’re dealing with life and death, mundane things that would be just a blip on your radar suddenly become overwhelming: things like car repairs, household bills and maintenance, and routine expenses. Because your emotional reserves are so low, you find it hard to stay focused and organized on the usual details and you struggle under the load.
With the help and support of many kind people I am facing life without my dear husband. I have re-entered the workplace after over 20 years, and it is my prayer, like Bob’s, that I will be a better person through this experience.