Pleasant Hill Church friends: Although I will continue to write “Fry on Friday,” after November 17th I will no longer send it to you. If you wish to continue to read my writings after that date, you may find them at https://fryonfriday.wordpress.com/.
They celebrated their first wedding anniversary early last week, so technically, they are no longer newlyweds. At age 79, he didn’t feel up to dinner and dancing, so they had a quiet evening at home. Nothing memorable.
What they did remember of the week was the visit to his doctor on Thursday. “The tests show your tumor is growing at an alarming rate,” she reported, following with lots of medical terminology. Short version, which is all they remembered: “Stage four. You have two to three months left.”
They wept like newlyweds. “I’m going to fight this,” he declared, though they’d been told that chemo would be useless. It seemed he had only two choices: fight or give up. “I’m not ready to go without a fight. I don’t care about chemo’s side effects, I can’t go without a fight.”
“Let’s ask a different question,” I suggested. “What are you fighting for? What is ‘a good day’ for you? However many days you have, what makes any of them a good day?”
He looked at a photo on the side table. A middle-aged woman with hazel eyes and a Mona Lisa smile. “Time with my daughter,” he announced. “It feels like at last we’re just getting to know each other. I want more of that.”
“And a cruise.” He fixed his eyes on his bride. “I want us to share another cruise together. Whatever happens next, I want to feel well enough to do that one more time.” “Let’s fight for those things, then,” we all agreed.
Two days later he was rushed to the E.R., his body filled with pain and his lungs with fluid. “We may have two to three weeks, not months,” she thought as she held him close.
A round of radiation to ease the pain, more blood work and CAT scans, some meds to reduce the fluids. And then…laughter. The laughter of Sara from Abraham’s tent, of Elizabeth feeling her little Baptist-to-be kick in her womb, of Thomas as he fell at the feet of the scarred and risen Jesus. Tear-filled, room-filling, raucous laughter.
“You are not Stage Four,” pronounced the oncologist. “Stage Two at worst. A round of this and a treatment or two of that and I’ll see you again in six months.” By the time I arrived, their cheeks were sore and throats raw from laughing. The next day, they drove home to book a ship sailing out of Miami.
They were only given the same thing we are given every sunrise: a new day. And the chance to ask the question, What would make this a good day?
“This is the day the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. He will retire from PHPC and full-time ministry on Sunday Nov. 12. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at email@example.com.