When I walked into family Christmas with my wife, at that time my girlfriend, for the first time it was a bit overwhelming. I was surrounded by at least twenty people, laughing, smiling, and hugging. As the night went on, we prayed before we ate a meal together. The men were strong yet gentle. The women were funny, beautiful, and I could tell were much stronger than first glance would show. I was uncomfortable when we prayed. I wasn’t used to this huge circle of people holding hands, bowing their heads and praying. I wasn’t even sure if God and I were friends. I knew that it brought back memories of myself as a child, knees locking, passing out on the floor of a Catholic church. As the years’ have gone by, I have become more comfortable with this. I have sat in waiting rooms with my soon to be official family while loved ones were sick. I have hugged necks and kissed faces. I have become family.
I married my wife this past October. We had a tiny ceremony, with just our parents. I have begun to search for purpose, for God, for spirituality. I have even downloaded an app to give me a daily devotional to read.
On December 21st right before Christmas, we sat in the lobby of a hospital with about twenty people waiting to hear news from a biopsy of my wife’s Aunt Jane. She was having trouble breathing, every other word was a gasp for air. She has had other cancers before but we were concerned because this was affecting her lymph nodes. We sat around as a family, while we waited for her to go back to surgery. We were VIP, we had family there who worked for the very hospital Jane was in. We didn’t need a “number” on the hospital waiting room screen to tell us what step she was in the process. We had downloaded the app to get updates as she went, and we had insiders who could let us know. The doctor gave us hope that out of all the lymph nodes removed, that none looked cancerous. We had hope as a family. A mixed, in law, blood, family. When Jane’s eldest son told us what the doctor had said originally, we all gathered and listened. Her sons, who are the biggest jokesters in the family, became silent and wet formed around their eyes. My wife immediately began to cry, she is such a soft soul. I followed her to the restroom to have a moment of silence and fear. While we were gone, the family prayed in a circle. Just like on holidays or events, they formed a circle and prayed. As told from a family member, the whole entire waiting room grew silent as our family prayed in that big waiting room. We left hopeful, and we knew that she would be on a breathing tube for a few days. Regardless, we had hope because the doctor told us it didn’t look cancerous. But here we get the call on a Tuesday night that the lymph nodes removed were in fact cancerous. That this is cancer. This family has been broken by cancer many times, but it never ever gets easier.
Jane was one of the first people to hug me and say I love you. She is funny, loud, and she loves God. She preaches at any chance she gets, with her compression sleeve on her arm. Her compression sleeve that makes it look as though she has tattoos on all down her arm. No matter how much she loves God, she just knows God loves me too. She makes you want to believe in God, even if you’re gay. This family makes you want to believe God exists and even if we lose one, we are whole. We have each other and we can make it through anything.
I’ll keep you updated…