In a nutshell, most of 2011 and 2012 have been both good years and bad years. I had hoped all the difficulties of these two years would wane as the days went by, but I find the difficulties becoming an old friend.
I think as I return to blogging, I'll probably fill in all the gaps about heartaches and healthaches that have affected my life. For now, I'll start with my dad and where we are. Last November his lung doctor sent him for a routine chest X-ray and discovered a small mass on his left lung. It wasn't officially diagnosed as Lung Cancer until January of this year. We were pissed at the lack of follow up with his lung doctor. He said he'd schedule tests, but a follow up CT Scan didn't get set up until the end of December and it was inconclusive, so another follow up didn't get scheduled till sometime in January and that lead him to getting the PET scan which showed the tumor. It was a bit larger. The aforementioned lung doctor was supposed to set up meetings with oncologists, but never did. I had to set up the appointments. Needless to say, this should have been taken care of back in December. We were into Mid-Febuary, but treatment was within our grasp. We saw a surgeon who recommended against it, but there was a radiologist in Albuquerque who said it was worth a shot. He took a week's worth of intense radiation, ending on his birthday, April 17.
By May, when he had a follow up CT scan we learned that the tumor was contained but not cured and that the cancer had spread to his liver and adrenal glads. We then moved to three doses of a chemo in the hope to slow it down. Dad tolerated the treatments. In fact, the steroids he was given gave him an extra burst of energy and he was feeling pretty good. But then, here we are. Three weeks ago, we started hospice.
We have been told we have at least 6-8 months with Dad. I'm hoping that we find time to spend together that is enjoyable, meaningful and happy. We fight a lot, but we also are incredibly close and the best of friends.
This weekend one of my cousins from Silver City came up for the weekend to see Dad. She was always close to him. Her sister lives here and she drops by quite a bit to visit. One still remains Catholic, the other has become an born-again Baptist.
Religion always causes tension in families. My dad is one who believes once baptized a Catholic, one is always a Catholic. He, of course, doesn't preach it nor does he lecture that to my cousin, but he certainly doesn't appreciate her subtle ways of trying to save his soul. I tend to be more contentious about it, but I've never confronted her either. It's her choice and she is happy, but I'm getting to the point where I might need to say something.
The pastor asked if they could come in and meet my father and pray. I politely told them no thank you. While we appreciated the gesture, we were a Catholic family and would call our priest when we felt like it was time. I did not let them inside the house; I did not engage them in a religious dialog. I said we were strong in our Catholic faith, we had our sacraments and thanked them for coming out but dismissed them.
Then, when the door was closed, did I say how I really felt. I felt offended, irritated and angry, not at them, but at my cousin for sending them. She should have known better. The many times she tried to get her pastor to come over or to tell my father that he needed to be saved and he said was saved through his baptism, had his faith and his own way of believing that she didn't need to worry about trying to save him, but take care of her own soul instead.
Again, she knew we were Catholic. She attended my Wedding Mass, she knew we attended Mass regularly and that my father believed the same, but she doesn't believe Catholics are Christians in the true sense of the world.
My dad has a silent faith, but it's strong and I know he believes. He stopped going to Mass with us about a year ago-- his aches and pains getting the best of him-- but he truly believes. My cousin doesn't see that. She only sees the world through her narrow view from her Bible, and literally believes it's her duty to save souls. I don't believe that it's our job to save anyone's soul. I think we need to worry about ourselves and focus on living a good life through faith, works, charity, humility, kindness and love. I also believe we need to teach our children our faith, baptize them, catechize them, share with them our sacraments and love of Christ through His Church. We need show them and others the way of Christ through how we live our lives, by our actions, not by sending others to proselytize or demand that we find Jesus to be saved. I'm sorry but I find that offensive. Jesus is never lost. We lose our sights on Jesus sometimes, but he is always there, always living in our hearts, even when we don't think he is there.
And even if he didn't say it, the words credited to St. Francis about preaching the gospel at all time and by using words if necessary is a fitting way to live the Gospel. It is by doing for others and loving others that we show our love of Christ--that we show the world our Christian Faith. And maybe I don't show it often enough or maybe my cousin was just doing what she thought was right, but it certainly set me off and has made me think twice about my own actions regarding my faith.
I admit I've grown weary at times and I'm feeling on the edge. I'm not even sure I'm strong enough to get through the days ahead but we'll see. Maybe my faith is still there, coaxing me to go on, but it's a very private thing for me and I just can't outwardly show that I'm a Christian. If you know me, then you should know that I am a Christian by the way I live my life. And right now my life is focused on my dad. Maybe I'll find some strength as the days get harder and maybe I'll discover just how much I can do.