I've had a viral infection for the last couple of weeks and so after seeing my GP last Monday I stayed off work most of last week. I went back in on Friday.
Checking my emails I found one from my son, it was a chain email entitled "Hi handsome, my name is Rose".
If you've not seen it, it is written from the viewpoint of a college student who meets and becomes friends with an 87 year old called Rose who has gone to college to fulfill her dream of getting a college education. A week after graduating she dies peacefully.
The last two paragraphs of the story are
"REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."
I found myself thinking about this as I was writing a journal entry. For those of you that have followed my posts for a while its fairly obvious that I'm a Christian and have a relationship with God. That relationship has had its ups and downs for a long time. Its been pretty rough over the last year or so, more so this year but I'm rebuilding that relationship slowly, in my own way.
As I was thinking about the story of Rose that I'd received from my son I found myself writing the following.
"God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."
No matter how I look at things in my life everything that has happened can be split into "I did something that brought me to this place" or "God did something to bring me to this place." At least I can split it that way.
I could say everyhing that has happened in my life has been due to decisions that I've made.
My marriage - deciding to find someone special, deciding to meet my other hal, deciding to propose to her, deciding not to split from her when I moved to Somerset, all of that has lead me to where I am in my marriage.
My son's illness, well that comes from the decision to have a child. If we'd not made that decision we'd not have had the child we love with all our hearts but also we wouldn't have spent all the time we have in hospital. We also wouldn't have met the people we have done, raised money for charity or had the experiences we've had.
On the flipside I could say everthing that has happened being due to God bringing me to it.
God brought my other half and I together, God brought Rhys into our lives and also brought his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia into our lives.
A lot of people whould struggle to accept such a horrible situation, some marriages and relationships can't survive it. We know of some relationships that have struggled, we also know of at least one marriage that ended as a result of a diagnosis of cancer.
If I accept that God brought us to that situation then I also have to accept that he brought us through it. Why though? For what benefit?
I honestly don't know but what I do know is that we have had so many experiences as a result.
Over the years we've met so many families that we never would have, so many children. Lots have recovered from their illnesses but some haven't and have passed away. Its these ones that have a more lasting effect on us. The memories of a smiling teenage face with a nasal tube taped toit, the life an energy of a young girl, the image will stay with me for a long time.
The tears that flowed while I was out running after hearing the news that a 3 year old that we'd known briefly in hospital had dies after coming out of a coma long enough to receive her Christmas presents.
A dad pushing his son in a wheelchair in order to receive his conditioning treatment while we were undergoing the same in preparation for my son's bone marrow transplant. My son had a much easier time with his conditioning.
Running the Great Western Run, doing the London Marathon, swimming 3000 metres in open water at Dorney Lake, each of these are experiences that I most likely would never have had.
Its true when the say that we live on in people's memories. Even though we might not realise it we and our families will touch people's lives and make an impression that they may carry with them for a long, long time.
I think that I can say, in my heart, that God did bring me to the things that he has done. He always has, even now as I transition I know that even though I have made the decisions, God brought me to the point of making them. Like with my son's illness God brought us through it for a reason, he will bring me and my family through transition one way or another.
Each day I grow older, I can't stop that. What I can do though is to make each of those days one that counts by doing something that is worthwhile, whether its something that will have an immediate effect, or whether its something that will take a lot longer to bare fruit.