Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Family in Florida

This past weekend I got to spend some time in Florida with some special relatives. There was a 60th surprise party for my awesome Aunt Kathy. I got to meet my cousin’s baby born in December (a month early who is growing like a weed!), see my 89-year-old Grandma (who was in rare form and showing off her flirty personality) and see my cousin Clay. This entry is really about my time with Clay.
Clay has always been one very special young man. He has lived with severe OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) his entire life. It’s taken a huge toll on the whole family and has shaped much of who Clay is. He’s an incredibly talented artist whose work displays an insider view of OCD and its effects on many aspects of his life. Aunt Kathy and I have bonded over these last nine years over what it’s like to have a child with life circumstances that didn’t quite meet our expectations, over the grief of watching your child suffer, over the triumphs our children have claimed, and the victories they’ve gained.
Two years ago, Clay was diagnosed with a form of colon cancer. To know Clay and to see how he’s battled this disease has been grueling, heart-breaking, and inspiring. He’s endured treatments, surgeries, and procedures that no one would imagine he’d be up for. He’s faced each one with determination and courage. He’s battled and triumphed over fear and has risen above each time. He’s not gotten encouraging news from the doctors, but that has not stopped him from going through painful steps to keep this disease at bay.
As I’ve watched Aunt Kathy and Clay these last 2 years, I have thought through so many things. Obviously, I am in awe of a mother caring for her son and a young man whose courage to overcome has overcome me with emotion. I may never understand why there is so much pain some people have to endure or why certain people seem to be hit so hard in this life. I won’t pretend to have answers though I do believe in a bigger plan I may not understand this side of heaven. I am thankful for relentlessly pursuing the hope of a perfect place in heaven where none of these dark days exist and none of these diseases endure.
Watching Clay’s battle has reminded me that Jesus came to earth knowing what He would endure. He knew the pain He would face when He walked the earth, yet He chose to go through it for us. Watching Aunt Kathy with Clay reminds me of Mary who watched her Son be spit upon, tortured, and crucified. I will always say if there were any other way to get to heaven, why would God have sent His one and only Son to go through this? Even Jesus asked for the cup to be spared from Him, yet not His will but His Father’s will be done. I am so grateful for the time I spent with my Florida family and for the constant reminders that the pain of this world is but a vapor compared with the perfection that awaits in heaven.