This is my favorite picture of my husband.
Last year, we joined my dad at the annual Letterman’s game at UGA. Dad joined many of the guys who played between the hedges at Georgia on this sacred day. They even get to take their families down on the field at halftime. In terms of our marriage, this might be the number one item that I brought to the table in Robert’s opinion.
After we walked back from the middle of the field, we quietly waited for our dismissal. Dad hugged old friends and introduced me to the Dawgs who prayed for me during leukemia.
When it was time to exit, I turned around to look for Robert. This is how I found him.
What happens when you stand on the sideline? My husband picks up the closest sign and motions to the roaring crowd to roar a little louder.
Six years and two days ago, an unknown doctor in the Emergency Room at Emory University Hospital looked at my mother and me and pronounced my diagnosis. It was leukemia.
Everything. Literally. Stopped.
My busy life that was filled with too many line items on the calendar stopped.
My lesson plans stopped. My writing stopped. My speaking stopped. My outside life stopped.
For the next six months, we focused on one word. Leukemia.
In the midst of medicine bottles, PICC lines, chemotherapy drips, and endless intake papers, we looked one moment ahead. Doctors office to hospital. Hospital to home. Home to clinic. Clinic to hospital.
As my hair began to grow back, my strength and hope slowly followed.
Six months into cancer, my doctor reported that the leukemia was no longer in my bone marrow. This victory report moved us to the next phase–maintenance. From this point, I took some daily meds, some weekly meds, one monthly chemo drip, and what seemed like never-ending prednisone. It lasted for two more years.
During that time, I went back to work, Robert changed careers, we got married, and we traveled to Greece and Paris. We fearlessly fought to tackle the mountains of debt, so our dreams could happen. We had no time to waste. 2010 taught us that nothing is promised, so we savored every moment of each day. We lived completely in the moment.
This year, 2016 came, and my doctor pronounced me cured.
We traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and England. We walked in the footsteps of Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis. My pilgrimage walked me home.
As I look at six years since Leukemia, I asked myself, “What’s next?”
Robert is right. Louder.
The time has come to live Louder.
Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory!”
It is time to tell the wond’rous story!
Robert has been holding this sign up at me all along the way. Louder! Tell them what God has done. Louder! Tell them not to be afraid. Louder! Show them that cancer does not beat out love. Louder! Families can stick together through suffering. Louder! Louder!
Along the way, my fear abated his sign. It softened my voice. Stifled my courage. Halted my story. Now, the fear decreases as my voice grows louder.
In her song, “Shine A Different Way,” Patty Griffin sings, “I’m gonna let it hear the prayer/ No matter who is there/ No matter who is listening/ I’m gonna let the dream tell me/ What it has always known”.
This summer, I started writing my story. The process looks like Everest to me, but it is time to start climbing. I will tell of my darkest days that were brought into the light.
If you want to hear the story, please contact me. I will be speaking again. Sharing again. We are ready to bring our story to your church, your group, your tribe. You can contact me through the “Contacting Caroline”page on this blog. I can’t wait to get Louder!