Eight years ago Erik and I were at the wedding of my dear friend Christy. I was six months pregnant with Poppy, and Peregrine had just turned two. I still remember him dancing, all wild and crazy like he used to do. I was thankful that the MC announced that women and children would be served their food first. I was a hungry and tired mama, but I wouldn't have missed this celebration. We'd driven nearly six hundred miles to be there, to take part in the joy of these two lives becoming one. I'd never met Ian, the groom, but I knew that he was a gem if he'd captured Christy's heart.
I lived and traveled with Christy for the better part of a year. We spent the first part of that time in San Fransisco and the Redwoods, then the next nine months wandering around Thailand, India, and Nepal. Christy is known for her sweetness, mercy, and compassion, her ability to put herself in someone else's shoes and walk with them. When I was extremely ill in Nepal, it was Christy who stayed close, who nurtured and cared for me as I slowly regained strength. My mom has always been so grateful to her for all she did for me in that time.
Ian and Christy have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, Asha and Fiona. A few weeks ago, their life was "normal". Tonight, Christy is sitting in a hospital room with Ian, who is a couple days into his first round of chemotherapy for acute leukemia. They didn't see it coming, at all. Ian was strong and healthy. Now he is weak, nauseous, groggy. She wrote these words earlier:
I'm sitting here next to my love. He is so nauseated, he doesn't want to be touched. And if you know Ian, touch is his language. Foot massage can't ease the discomfort like it did a couple days ago. So I sit here in silence by his side. Heartbroken and weary, but clinging to hope.
Christy is dividing her time and strength between their two daughters, who are also struggling to make sense of this, and her husband, who is in the hospital in a different city. This round of chemo will keep him there for at least a month. She is facing an uncertain future, one never imagined on that joyous night eight years ago when they joined their lives together.
My heart is heavy for Christy, and for Ian, for little Asha and baby Fiona. My husband has also had cancer, and I look back on that time and am in awe of the peace and grace that we were given to walk through those uncertain days. (He was diagnosed and had surgery just a week before I was due with Peregrine, then went through radiation for five weeks with a newborn. Thankfully he's been cancer free for ten years now. You can read our story here.) I pray the same for them, for strength to hold them up, for healing and grace, and peace that is deeper than understanding.
I'm reminded of a line from an Indigo Girls song: "So we must love, while these moments are still called today..." Today is all we have. This is one of the reasons Erik and I are doing what we are, why we sold our home, left a secure job, stepped out into the unknown. We meet lots of retired people on the road, but not many families. We've felt strongly that we don't want to wait, to put off for another year or decade what we can do now. There are no guarantees in fifteen or twenty years, when Erik would have retired and all the kids grown, that we would have the health, strength, or finances to travel. There is no promise that we will both still be alive, as little as I like to think about that. We want to share this life, to live it to the fullest, to experience it with our kids, to give them the world, so to speak.
Christy and Ian have reminded me once again that we must love now. I waste too many moments feeling irritated or frustrated, or worrying about things beyond my control. I miss out on time that I can never get back, that I can't make up in the future. I want to embrace life, to savor each moment I'm given with Erik, with each of our precious kids, with our family and friends. I want to live intentionally, fully present in each moment, with no regrets.
If you'd like to follow the journey of Ian and Christy, go check out their blog, Be Well, Ian. Please join me in praying for healing and strength for this precious family and that they will be surrounded by those who love them. And let them inspire you to love, while these moments are still called today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.