Dear Baby David,
I keep thinking of that time a few years ago when we all were gathered at the Lake House for Memorial Day weekend.
It was the same as every year – too many kids and dogs to count. Card games, and tubing, and Dad threading gooey worms on fishing hooks, and sitting at the long harvest table on the porch in soggy swim suits for lunch.
Memorial Day is notoriously a little early to be swimming in Wisconsin, but still, we launched the boat and plunged into the water as always. We’re a “Choose-life-no-matter-what” kind of family.
It was cool and cloudy and super windy that year, but you kept trying to convince me to go sailing with you on our little Sunfish. “Come on, Laura! It will be great! Me and you!” I can hear you as clear as if you were saying it to me today.
Finally I relented and we took off, you at the rudder (because I don’t actually know how to sail) and me along for the ride. Aunts and Uncles, grandparents and kids and dogs watched from the shallows as the wind immediately whipped up and started speeding us across the lake.
I’d say it was approximately 10 seconds before I watched helplessly as you fell off the back and I was on my own, speeding away.
I can picture you treading water and laughing so hard, like such a brother.
Everyone on shore was yelling instructions as I got further away from land, and some scrambled to jump in the ski boat and rescue me.
David, I keep thinking of this, because I feel like you’re slipping off the back of the boat again. And I don’t want you to go. I don’t want to sail on without you.
I hate it that cancer is eating away at your strong body. I hate it that you’re suffering. Maybe it’s time to let go of life, in order to embrace Life, but oh it’s so sad to watch you slip away.
We know that God can calm the wind and waves as He has before, but so far He’s chosen not to. So far.
And saying “this is hard” is like saying a heart surgery without anesthesia is hard.
We hurl confused, grieving, tearful words at God in our weakest moments these days, but we trust Him too. We don’t understand, but we choose to continue to believe He is good, because we have had a lifetime of sailing with Him.
You’ve held tight to the rudder, Baby David. You’ve fought the wind and waves courageously, but it’s ok. You can let go now if you want.
When you go I will miss you so much. Words can’t express…But even now I can picture Jesus and Grams and Gramps waiting for you on the other side. You and Gramps will talk trains and Mr. Punnymoon. And I know you’ll be waiting for me too, with that mischievous grin and twinkle in your eye, ready to go sailing with me again.
I love you,
Your head cheerleader
I’m sharing this publicly with Susan’s permission because I want readers to know what a difference faith in Jesus Christ makes. He is everything.
We are so, so blessed to have a family and heritage of believers to walk through this dark time together. We don’t have pat answers. We aren’t always happy-clappy. We’re impatient, and selfish and quirky just like all families. But we do not grieve as those without hope. (1 Thes. 4:13)
Tuesday night, David was moved home to hospice care. His wife Susan was on the phone with my mom telling her that the oncologist had said David was the most courageous patient he had ever had, with such a positive attitude. David was awake and overheard her. In a moment of semi-lucidity he said, “Oh, but did we remember to tell him it’s just because of Jesus, Susan?”
“Yes, Dave, we did. We did.” she said.