|Erik and his dad, Den|
Den's birthday is this week, but after the chemo starts. Since he won't be up to being around people then, we invited family over on Sunday to celebrate and his friends threw him a huge BBQ bash at the senior center. I managed to hold off crying, instead just trying to focus on enjoying being with family, until Erik's cousin asked about the cancer and treatment.
This just isn't fair! Of all the people in the world, Den is the most gentle, kind, and thoughtful person I've met. In only the last week or so, I've gotten to know him a lot better and he amazes me even more. With all he's been through in his life, anyone else would have turned hard and bitter, even before the cancer. Why does a man who has already suffered so much, worked so hard, and dedicated his life to serving others have to go through this? If only we'd known sooner, maybe we could have caught the cancer earlier...
We also found out that, to save on medical costs, he hasn't been taking all of his medicine. He doesn't want to be a burden on anyone. When I mentioned us possibly moving in to help him, he never once mentioned how he'd have to put up with our 2 cats, incessantly barking dog, and loud kids after being used to peace and quiet or how we haven't been great housekeepers (his house is usually extremely clean). He's never once complained about all the boxes filling his house while we slowly unpack (read about our move here). He's only been worried about how it would affect our lives. Instead of complaining when he sees the kids leave a mess or the dog drag a granola bar wrapper out of the trash, he tries to slowly bend down and pick it up before we stop him and take care of it ourselves (he's really not supposed to do that!)
We spent last night recording him tell us a few stories from his life. How he grew up working on a farm, his mother was a nurse in San Francisco, working in pool halls, and how he's never again used a gun after seeing his friend killed in a hunting accident. I wish we'd done this sooner. Den's always been so quiet and reserved, we hardly know anything about his life.
But I know somehow Heavenly Father will make everything all right. He's promised us that in this life or the next that everything will be made fair. What will God give to a man who has served and loved so faithfully and selflessly? I can only imagine the wonders and treasures that will someday await this man in heaven (hopefully years and years from now). I love reading the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's recent talk. It's helped me realize this and also that even though these last few weeks have been difficult, we've been so very blessed to be able to enjoy our time with Den. I hope we have much more time with him.
Den just left for the hospital. I'll spend the rest of the day praying and sanitizing the house for his return. To beat the lymphoma, he'll have several months of chemo and a long recovery ahead of him. If you can, please take a moment to pray for Denzel Watkins today.
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