I went to bed last night and, I woke up this morning. I didn’t want to go to bed because I couldn’t get my mind to stop thinking. I really hate nights like that. All though this may be a whine on my part I want my readers to consider it informative.
I remember today September 30, 2008 very well. You see, 2 years ago Gretchen was diagnosed with Cancer. She was seeing patients as she always seemed to be doing and I took the call. “Hi, this is Dr. so and so’s office. Is Gretchen there? No, Oh, is this Mr. Courtright? Yes, We have the results from Gretchen’s tests and Dr. so and so wants to see her today if possible.”
I ‘ve been married to a nurse for 30+ years. Wanting to see a patient “today” is not a good sign. I knew the call and the test results were not good. I had no idea how bad they would be. Gretchen came home about an hour later. I had no idea how to tell here other than how the Dr’s office said it. The Dr. wants to see you today, I said. About as subtle as a bull in a china shop. She didn’t really react that much. She went immediately into what we called “nurse mode” Something she did when me or the kids got hurt. No sympathy, just attack the problem at hand and deal with the emotions later. Her reply was “What time?”. I told her we have to call. She did and we left within 20 minutes.
At the Drs. Office we waited a short time and then went in to the sterile little room, with the charts and a picture on the wall to make it seems more comfortable and waited. Thank goodness, not very long but, to me at least it seemed an eternity. Dr. so and so came in and looked directly at Gretchen and said. The tests reveal a lesion 3.5 mm on your right lung. With the symptoms you have had it is consistent with cancer. Gretchen never moved, never gasped, never did anything for what seemed another eternity. She looked at me and I could see something I don’t think I ever saw in her face. Fear. Tears welled and she wiped them then, the dreaded “nurse mode”. Never a word to me, a look my way, just that damn “nurse mode”. She just looked at Dr. so and so, and said we must be aggressive. Dr. so and so outlined some procedures and then said I’ll give you a few minutes and left the room.
I know we talked with each other but what we said escapes me. I honestly have no idea what we said to each other. Not a clue. Dr. so and so re-entered the room and she and Gretchen went into Dr. and nurse mode. They started talking medicine and treatments. Then, Dr. so and so finally turned to me and ask if I had any questions. Oh my mind went into overdrive. QUESTIONS! QUESTIONS!, You just pronounced my wife with a death sentence and you ask me if I have QUESTIONS! I haven’t been part of this conversation for the past half hour and you want to know if I have QUESTIONS! You’re &^%**%$& right I have QUESTIONS!
I opened my mouth and calmly said, “No, Gretchen will explain it all to me. Thank you” What Gretchen would call “Cop mode” took over. Handle the situation and break down later. It seems to run in the family.
A long ride home and not much conversation. Not much to say, Just process what you’ve just heard and try to sort everything out. Finally, the kitchen. Our little neutral zone. Where we have always had our most serious and personal conversations. I made some coffee she got her Diet Coke. We just stood there in our respective places and looked at each other. She never was one to swear much and quite frankly I expected some expletive deleted to come. They didn’t of course. She just looked me in the straight forward face she got when seriousness was on the table and said two things.
“Well, this sucks! What could I say to that. I just looked at her and said, “yep, this really sucks.” She then looked at me and calmly said, “You know this will take a miracle from God, don’t you”? “Yes, I know” That pretty much summed up the worst day of my life.
And, yes, we did have a melt down later but not then. In our family there is a time and place for everything. Our kitchen was neither the time, nor the place.
Why do I write this today. It is the 2nd anniversary that’s why. Last night as I always do I prayed to God to take care of her. Begged for 5 minutes with her and then finally decided to write this post. The reason I am going to use it to tell people who read it. The pain does not go away on the inside even though it appears so on the outside. If you have a friend who has lost a loved one just because they smile and laugh and appear to be ok on the outside they may not be healed on the inside. This is not just my story but the story of several other people I know in the same situation. It is only though the good support of friends and family and those in our situation is how we manage to sometimes “just get though the day”
Remember that the next time you are with a friend who has lost a loved one.
Thank you all for your support.
Husband of Gretchen
Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.
Read more about this famous Lutheran Pastor at:
Read more about this famous Lutheran Pastor at: