“….I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
I remember this verse from when I was a child. It was in a little blue book with a gold embossment. My Mom would sit on my bed beside me while I knelt and recited the whole verse. After I was finished, I would climb under the covers and she would tuck me in and seal it with a good night kiss. The blankets were drawn snugly around my body to not let any drafts enter. She would softly leave the room, look back, and turn off the lights.
I never really liked that bed-time prayer as I thought either way, whether the Lord kept or took my soul, I was scuppered. I only understood that prayer recently. It is possible for the Lord to be the keeper of my soul when I am alive, as long as I have faith.
Truthfully, I am not sure that faith is a choice at this point to me. It is essential. Who, in their right mind, can willingly “go to sleep” with a team of people holding a series of scalpels and sharp objects in their hands – poised at you… without faith? I won’t be awake to stop them (I hope!). I don’t have the expertise to advise them. I don’t know what cancer looks like, nor do I know how to even stitch me back up again! I have no choice but to have faith.
And that’s not the only place where I have faith. I believe also in my family – in my husband. Kevin has been there with me at every step – literally an figuratively. Sometimes the walk was easy and sometimes it was tough – but Kevin was always there to offer me his arm for support. That can’t be easy. I am sure there were times when he wanted to just get back home so that he could prepare for work – and not be late. I never felt that took second place to his job… no matter how much pressure he was under. This year will mark our 24th anniversary. Neither one of us could have imagined 24 years ago, that we would really need to re-visit and live that section of our vows that offered a promise to support one other, “in sickness and in health”. Just like our morning walk, our marriage has sometimes been easy and sometimes it would tough. I’d like to think, however, we have always been there for each other – offering our arms for support.
I hate the idea of Kevin having to wait for me alone. He will say he is fine. I won’t be fine with that. Everyone needs support. Everyone needs to know that they are not alone. Everyone needs to believe in someone, someOne, or something. Whether it was through the hands of my parents, or someThing else, I have been actively reunited with the right person for the right time.
“Jan, are you still willing to be with Kevin during my surgery?” I asked with baited breath.
“I am absolutely going to be in the surgical waiting room at 8am on Wednesday morning. –nothing and no one could keep me away”, she replied. “Know that I will be holding Kevin’s hand until you wake up to take over.”
If that isn’t a guided response from the Hand that guides, I don’t know what is. Jan said exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. That she was an oncology nurse at this same hospital certainly helps to bring comfort too. Funny how the right people have popped up at the right times throughout this journey. And so – the very moments when I am most vulnerable – I know that my Kevin will be comforted by a loving and capable soul. In turn, Kevin will tuck our own children to bed that night, draw the blankets snugly around them, and turn off the lights.
Of course, this action applies figuratively to our oldest son, Ben, whose bed is 16 hours away! I have faith – I have to have faith – that he will be comforted too. If not, I won’t sleep. It was always “Mom” Ben called in the middle of the night by a tummy ache, or a fever ache. “Mom” rushed Ben to the toilet when he was sick. “Mom” got the water and cold cloth for the fever. “Mom” stayed with him until he was back to sleep – more because I knew I couldn’t sleep if he wasn’t well. Now that Ben is an adult, I need to pass that torch along to someone else. It is time for me now to be the patient – to sleep instead of nurse. I pray Ben will have someone whose hand he can hold until I can wake up to take over.
It is almost time for me to sleep. I pray my Mom will be with me during surgery and holding my hand to comfort me. Then, to wake-up to take over my roles as wife, mother, friend, teacher once again.