Steve's dad is sick. Not a I should make him some chicken noodle soup kind of sick. It's not something extra rest and a few aspirin can conquer. No, we're talking more like a team of doctors and a pretty risky, yet potentially life-saving surgery. On his brain.
My father-in-law has had his share of health struggles this year and we have weathered them as a family, each one of us offering support and encouragement in our own way. We live next door to Steve's parents and our children see them nearly every day, so they are hyper sensitive to any break in routine or disruption of their time with Nana and Papa. That means I am, too, because when their grandparents aren't around I get drilled with questions about where they are and what they're doing.
Oh, it's not like we watch for Nana's car to pull in the driveway after work.
Wait. Yes they do.
Well, not in a stalker-ish kind of way, anyway.
And yes, I suppose the kids do wander over there some afternoons just to see if Papa has filled his candy jars with lemon drops and Tootsie Roll pops. Hey, they're kids after all. But the sweet treats and the always-stocked pantry are just a bonus to spending time with two people who adore them like only grandparents can.
So the thought of something being seriously wrong with their Papa is scary. And to their many questions I can offer few answers. We're all shaken. Nobody really wants to think about how fragile life is.
But today I am reminded through my little book of daily devotions that sometimes all it takes is a few kind words to lift someone up when the world has knocked them down. (OK, and sometimes it takes medical intervention, but then kind words wouldn't hurt, either.)
"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."
I've never been one to sugar-coat the truth for my children, but I can certainly comfort them - with my words and lots of extra hugs and kisses - in the midst of a crisis. They look to the adults in their lives for safety, for a sign that it's OK to be scared and hopeful at the same time. This week I have encouraged them to take their worries to God, and to do their best to focus on all the good in their lives.
And I'm doing my best to take my own advice.
Father-in-law's surgery is planned for Friday. He's hanging out in the hospital being waited on and keeping up with his soap operas and bantering back and forth with the nurses until then. Afterward? I guess we won't know until the time comes. Maybe life will eventually get back to normal ... whatever that is. Or maybe we'll have to learn a new normal.
One thing is for sure: we'll face it together, this extended family of friends and neighbors and ... well, extended family. We'll lean on each other. We'll pray. And I will make a point to speak "from God's honeycomb" to each of my loved ones.