Monday, August 15, 2016

"Go Hug Your Wife": Words of Wisdom From My Dad

I told you on Thursday I'm feeling sentimental with these Olympic games as I consider what our family was facing in 2012.

For Marriage Monday, I thought I'd share a great post my dad wrote when we were in the midst of that c-word journey, and even now, almost four years later, it still brings me to tears.

Married folks: I hope you'll listen to his wisdom and be grateful for your spouse!


by Mike Calmes

So I figured it was time for me to put my thoughts to paper partly to share where I’ve been in all this, but also I knew it would be therapeutic for me. As most of you are aware, I’m not known as the communicator in our family. I am the quiet one. And as I like to joke: I’m not really that quiet; just in our family, for me, it’s an issue with opportunity….to speak that is. And you all know what I’m saying there!! So I say bear with me as I attempt in my own feeble way to communicate my experience and my heart since July 17th. (And I’m confident my “editorial staff” will dress up this weak attempt as well).
Let me start by saying I have an incredible wife. Not only is she the love of my life for 25 years of marriage this past week, but she is my best friend. She is my biggest encourager. She epitomizes the cliché “behind every good man is a strong woman” because she is just that for me. All of you know what a friend, an investor, an encourager, a teacher, and an example of gratitude and joy she is. Just imagine…Most get that part of her occasionally, but I get to be with her daily. I can only say I love my life with my wife. I did not need a crisis or adversity to confirm that; I’ve known it for a long time.
July 17, 2012 our life changed as you know. Tomi came home from her screening mammogram and said she knew it was abnormal, and they’d call her for repeat views. I, being the eternal optimist, said that they do that all the time, probably nothing, but we’ll get the extra views….nine days later we had a biopsy positive for breast cancer followed by surgery with the removal of the tumor. Now she’s undergoing chemotherapy to be followed by radiation therapy. You know the rest of the details from previous posts, and I’m here to tell you that her prognosis is very, very good….with treatment. But I also will tell you as a physician and husband, I still felt fear through this process. Not fear that her end result would be bad, fear that the process of treatment was not without risk of complications.
So now I come to tell you that my wife is strong, and I’m not. She even said during this process under the influence of pharmaceuticals, “I’m a tough cookie.” And repeated it over and over and over. But she’s right; she is a strong woman. And I’m here to tell you that I’m not a “tough cookie.” As a husband, I have seen myself as a protector of my family and especially my wife. But when this enemy, this battle came upon us, I was so disheartened and sad because I could not protect Tomi from this foe. Oh I have knives and guns and testosterone, but I feel helpless in this setting. Michalea said in her first post that I was hurting from a place they had not seen before, and she is so right. I have been hurting in a place even I didn’t recognize. I have been distressed because I couldn’t protect her from this, and I have been saddened because of her journey she must endure physically.

I find I cry frequently. I’m not gonna lie sometimes I think I cry like a “girl.” During those first days after diagnosis, in my morning quiet time, I’d cry to God to take this away from Tomi. Now I cry when I’m alone and not distracted by enough. The other day I was leaving church alone and cried on the way home….I don’t know why; I just did. Another day I was in a store, and they were having a bake sale for breast cancer awareness, and I bought some cookies wrapped in a pink ribbon and went to my truck and wept.
Brennan Manning in Ruthless Trust  says, “When the shadow of Jesus’ cross darkens our space, when pain and suffering intrude and our secure, well-regulated lives are blown apart, when tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance, and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own heartache, when courage flies out the window, and the world around us suddenly seems dark and menacing, self-pity is the first, normal unavoidable, and probably right reaction, and we only exhaust ourselves further if we attempt to suppress it. Human experience has taught me that there is no effective way to fight self-pity. Sure, we can spiritualize heartbreak, camouflage our emotions, and tap dance into religiosity. But such bravado is a denial of our humanity, and furthermore it does not work. We are not spiritual robots but sensitive persons.”
But he goes on to say not to stay in that place. It is a normal emotion, but there is a time it becomes pathologic. Ruthless means without pity. We need to have ruthless trust in a sovereign God and a compassionate Savior.
In Tuesdays with Morrie, the dying professor Morrie says regarding his terminal plight, “I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things still in my life.”
And that’s what I do. And I can’t begin to list all the good things that Tomi and I have in our lives. Let me start with three great adult kids. You’ve heard from Michalea and Laura and have heard their hearts, and they both have been tireless servants throughout this time. Clinton is also a fine young man with many talents and a giant-sized heart. Imagine, him holding me in his arms as I cried when they took Tomi into surgery. Our daughters have incredible husbands, and we are getting the best and sweetest daughter-in-law we could hope for in February.
We all knew Tomi was a huge investor in relationships with people, and we knew she had lots of friends…..but I don’t think any of us realized how many people and how far reaching her love, her ministry, her encouragement had reached until now.  The outpouring of the love of Jesus through the love and service of people, His hands and feet, to our family and Tomi has been overwhelming to say the least. People have been so kind and generous and considerate as well. With the upcoming race, Team Tomi continues to grow in numbers, reflecting the care and support for Tomi. I can’t say thanks enough but stand in awe of a loving God that wants to show us in real tangible ways that He loves us through others. Thanks to you ALL!!
To our young married couples…..and since I don’t have a Facebook page, I’ll say it here… your relationships with your spouse, don’t sweat the small stuff; keep your priorities right. Love your spouse with encouragement and serve one another always. Remember how special they are in your life.
We had a dear friend lose his wife to cancer recently. He was not aware yet of Tomi’s diagnosis. As I attended the visitation time at the funeral home (Tomi wasn’t able to attend), he hugged me, and he said, “go home and hug your wife and tell her you love her…and do it often.” Let me reaffirm that Tomi’s prognosis is very, very good, but when you hear the “Big C” word, it gives me pause and time to reflect on the importance of my awesome wife in my life.
So to you all…. Go hug someone dear to you and tell them you love them often because you never know when you may find yourself on…..
An unlikely journey.
2 Cor 12: 9-10

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