“What if Grandpa was holding my other hand and you guys could swing me again,” commented the six-year-old as we walked to the park. She remembers the grandpa who teased the grandkids. The grandpa who interacted with them; who thought their names were all George for some reason.

I miss this good man. Every day. But what if, when you face hard things, you could come out on the other side wiser, kinder, stronger? Would it be worth it? I’m thinking yes, not that I go looking for hard things.

A year ago this month—after Hubby’s metastatic prostate cancer lay quiet for nearly nine years—it began making noise. Exhausting all treatment options, Hubby was accepted into a clinical trial that sounded promising. Two Wednesdays out of every three, he hopped on a plane that took a left turn past Mt. Hood on its way to Seattle.


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We made a couple trips to the ER this month a year ago. Fevers and kidney infections, which were common with the nephrostomy tubes that bypassed the cancerous mass in his bladder.

As it turned out, Hubby would be dropped from the clinical trial as cancer continued its ravenous march. But we had learned some lessons along the way. When things didn’t go as hoped, we regrouped. We talked; we recruited friends and family to pray; we drafted thanksgiving lists:

  1. This day – one more day together
  2. Our love story
  3. Kids, grands, extended families
  4. A warm and welcoming place called home
  5. Friends who check in on us frequently
  6. That Hubby could still make me laugh

The lists were actually quite long. Even in setbacks, still much to be grateful for. Not that we did this perfectly every time. Because there were certainly some ugly days of self-pity and hopelessness.

But what if gratitude helped us see the good while struggling with the hard? What if we had a choice in how we suffered? What if this hard thing could make us more compassionate, and therefore more beautiful? (It does. We do. It can.)

Would we embrace the hard instead of kicking against it?

Yes. Yes, I think we would.