Cancer. According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control), cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US. One in every four deaths is due to cancer. In 2014 (latest year for incidence data) nearly 1.6 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed and 591,686 people died of cancer in the United States.
September 29, 2014, my late husband, Antonio Jackson, died of Lung Cancer at 39 years of age. At a time of year when my angst is most apparent, it is important to me that I revisit the reason that I am able to live each day with purpose and joy.
To speak of Antonio’s death is to speak of the day when my life, as I knew it, was decimated. Our life built with control and precision was gone. As tough goes, I am pretty tough. Tell me that I can't do something and I will, just because. This life event- this defining moment, made me reconsider control.
When I was flat on my face, I found God in a way that I could not have- would not have, otherwise, experienced. At my lowest point, I experienced a profound love and peace that could only come from God. I clung to the words “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
There was nothing to make sense of – this was about agreeing to be a part of God’s plan. Everything is going to work out. Antonio was called home to Heaven. We are still here. Apparently, there is more living for me to do. I attempt to be a testament of God’s love for me. I am far from perfect and I am continually inserting my own agenda into the plan.
It is often that I tell my children to do something and they resist, requesting explanations and greater disclosure before agreeing. I have more experience than they do and there is no amount of explanation that I can give them that will help them understand all the variables that help me arrive to a decision. Usually my explanation is brief and ends with “sometimes, you just have to trust me.” These conversations remind me that this existence is about something bigger than me, more than anyone is able to comprehend. If I lean on my own understanding- none of this makes sense. I don’t know what, in turn, will make anything worth the cost of losing someone so special but Antonio is not lost. He is home.
As I stand here on this earth, I will love, share, live, dream, and claim joy with whatever time I have left. I am grateful to sit here with a good measure of hope and promise. I will appreciate the moments and attempt to effect change by being present, wherever I may be. I look for beauty and find it in places and moments that are often overlooked or missed in the hurry of life. I promise I don’t get it right all the time, but I am more deliberate about it than ever before.