Monday, February 22, 2010

Tying his shoes >> My road to healing

On December 19th 2005, I found out that my dad had cancer. I was nine years old. I don't remember much about the time, except that it was hard, and I was scared. Always scared--mainly for me and for my dad. Life without him was something that I could not even comprehend, nor did I want to. Every time a moment of peace would come to me, I would be presented with that harsh reality of him being gone.

Gone is such a sad word. It's that moment when you know that life cannot ever return to how it was--the moment when life is suspended and you realize that the path you were on cannot carry you anymore.

Gone means change--it means you must be renewed. Life will be different--no matter what the outcome, the pages from then on would have a different cadence, marked differently because of the events beforehand. It means that you must adapt, you must change. It means that you will have to learn to live again.

Learning to live again is a path that I've been taking ever since my dad was diagnosed. It means trusting in the Lord--completely. There is no side-path, no quick route. It's a long and hard journey, but it's what needs to be taken in order for life to continue--in order for life to have meaning. Putting our complete faith in Him is a path that requires perseverance, trust, and hope. Always hope.

But God is hope. And God is life.

I have very little memories from that difficult time, as I have shut most of them out. The fear that always lingered with me in that time is always present in those memories, and it's hard to have them resurface. For one quivery moment, I forget that that time was four years ago, and that I've been remade again. For one moment, I'm suspended in that time, and I feel afraid.

But I've realized that I must go back to them--I need to cleanse myself of all the fears and doubts that have haunted and plagued me since. No matter how painful they may be, I need to let them come, for that is the road to healing.

I'm crying as I write this, but I have a memory too poignant, too painful, and too beautiful that I can't let it disappear.

From the cancer treatments, my dad was too weak to reach over and tie his schoes. It hurt to see my dad in that much pain--it made me sob and feel weak. I hated seeing him unable to perform that task that, at any other time, would have required no effort, and no thought.

So I would tie his shoes for him.

I remember him asking me as he was sitting on the couch. His voice was tired and I felt my heart go out to him. I don't remember his words, but I remember he asked me to tie his shoes.

I hurried over and bent down. The laces were knotted and tight, and it took me some time to un-knot and loosen them so my dad could get his feet in. Then I gently tied them. They were big brown shoes with thick brownish-green laces.

I can still feel his hand in my hair as he whispered softly, lovingly, but sadly, "Thank you, Hannah. I love you." I would reach up and hug him, and tell him I loved him.

And this simple memory makes me cry. Because in that memory, all of my fears, all of my pain, all of my sadness, and all of my hope could be found in that simple act of tying his shoes. In that moment, God gave me the reason to change and to accept change. That was when I realized that no matter what happened, my life would be different. And in that simple moment, I found the strength to continue on--to live real and to live truly.

Because that is what makes life precious. Thinking back to those days of horrible fear and terrible pain, I feel scared again, and sad. I become that little nine-year old girl, searching for hope and for safety. And in that memory, I see why I changed.

My dear daddy was cancer free in March of 2006. I'll hear his laugh tonight and hug him--I'll cry as I see him. And as I write this post, it makes me remember how precious life really is. It gives me the reason to be strong, and to change. Because I could have lost him. Not forever, but my life on this earth would have been without my dad. I would not have him at my graduation day, or my wedding, or the birth of my children, or all those precious moments to come. Never again until Heaven would I be able to simply enjoy his company--to laugh, cry, or talk with him.

And that is why I am on my road to healing. Not because I lost him, but because I could have. My family has been so blessed that he is here today. Knowing that he could have died makes me cry and reminds me of me desperate need to cling to the Lord.

I am walking on this path of God's; going along on His journey. My road has been altered--it always will be--but I am not afraid. No matter what comes, that simple act of allowing and accepting change, and embracing faith in Him--that is what will sustain me. That is why, in Him, I am healed.


  1. As a cancer survivor myself, and as a mom, I can say that those little moments--like having your shoes tied by your precious child--are what makes the fight for life worth it. When we are faced with losing our lives, we forget everything but what is most important--those we love.

    How lucky your dad is not only to be cancer free, but to have a daughter who so obviously loves him!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I think I need to go hug my kids right now....

  2. Really good post. My dad has--had, that is--cancer until very recently. I know exactly what you're talking about.

  3. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I am so, so glad your dad is OK. I know exactly how you feel — my mom had breast cancer and it was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. She is fine now... but it really puts life in perspective, doesn't it, to have someone you love so much be so ill?

  4. Wow.
    That brought me to tears Hannah. A truly touching and inspirational post.
    Keep blogging and shining your light for Jesus. You're doing a phenomenal job.

    God Bless you,

  5. That must have been really hard for you. My grandfather died of cancer last year. Beautiful post, Hannah:]

  6. very powerful and beautiful post Hannah! My pop-pop was diagnosed with a rare 4 stage cancer in his thoat, and even though he is done treatments as of right now, its still so hard to see him so sick.

    Thank you so much for sharing straight from the heart.


  7. Its posts like this that inspire in so many ways. From just being thankful to life changing.

  8. Hannah,

    I am so glad you shared this here. It is so inspiring to see your fearless faith shining through your words. God bless you!


  9. Bless you Hannah. This was such a beautiful and touching post!

  10. Great Post Hannah ...

    I lost my dad at age thirteen to a sudden heart attack. three years later, my brother ... gone. I don't know if I have ever gotten over the void that remained.

    Twenty years later, I lost my sister, my mentor, to cancer ... but rest assured the Lord Jesus Christ was there waiting for me

  11. I was crying......
    Beautiful post, Hannah. Praise our awesome God!!

    God bless you, dear sister. :)

  12. Such a beautiful post for such a young lady. Bless you.

  13. Thank you so much for posting this. I was touched deeply.

  14. Very deep and touching. Thanks for sharing your story and being so honest with us.

    It is hard to see a loved one in such a difficult place. I understand.

  15. Oh my goodness, Hannah, I didn't know your dad had cancer! I'm so sorry! I guess I haven't known you that long via blog. =) Praise God that he is cancer free! My Pa-pa is cancer free as well! Brain cancer is a tough thing to go through, and I think it was harder for me to watch my Pa-pa go through it, than it would be for me to go through it myself. The same way with my dad and his MS. I know you probably felt like that way a lot! Anyway, that was a beautiful post and I'm so glad your dad is cancer free!


  16. Hannah, you really know how to express yourself. I am really happy that your dad no longer has cancer, and from your post, I know you are too. This was really well written, and I applaud you.

  17. My father was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago. God healed him, but I will never forget the fear and agony I went through while facing the possibility of losing him. I wasn't 9, I was 33. Our daddys are always are daddys no matter how old we get. I remember telling God I wasn't ready to lose him and begged him not to take him. My prayers were childish I suppose, but God understood. Healing does come, and I am better able to face what I face now. My father is 82 now and I face his twilight years along side him. He's still my daddy and I know our time is short, but God's grace is absolutely sufficient. Thanks for sharing young one, yet wise beyond your years! Blessings to you.

  18. Oh Hannah! I had no idea you had gone through such a trial! My heart goes out to you for having gone through so much pain and fear. Praise God for bringing you, your dad, and the rest of your family through that difficult time! I know exactly what you mean--trials are so incredibly difficult, and every time you stop to think back about them, they just cripple you with painful and painfully sweet memories. But because of those moments, our perspective is forever changed, and we are given a bigger reason to have hope and take life for what it is and with whatever it hands us. God has a perfect plan for everything, and it's such an encouragement to know that, looking back at the trials that we have endured.

    Beautiful post, dearest Hannah. I love you. :)

  19. Oh my goodness I cant stop crying! Your words are so passionate! haha what an angel you are from the Lord! You are truly SHINING for Him, Hannah! I love to see it! What a blessing! My mom got breast cancer when I was 11, and my dad got skin cancer when I was 13. both survived and are still with me! Praise God! but I know that it is a super hard thing to go through, cause you realize how much you love them and don't even want to think about living without them!and its hard to see them suffer...
    Oh thank you for this reminder of how we are to live our lives for God every day! and serve Him with humble, trusting, hearts! Our God is compassionate and faithful! and He will definitely never leave us! amen!
    love you sister! <3 praying for you!

  20. Oh, Hannah... this post really brought tears to my eyes and made me cry.
    Thank you for sharing this... God is always there for us, thankfully.

  21. Dear Hannah...

    ...your words are beautiful. They express the truth of living a life in the midst of a storm, and while there finding beauty. So often we pray to get out of the storm, but what I've learned is that while in the midst to live with joy. Kind of sounds like those are antithetical ideas, and yet, in Philippians we read the opposite. There's a book by Frankl titled "Man's Search for Meaning" which discusses his inner struggles while he was captive in Auschwitz. In this book he writes about living above, and finding meaning, in the midst of dire circumstances. You, my dear, did that very thing when you tied those shoelaces of dads. And now, those events have shaped who you are now.

    I don't know why dad had cancer. I do know that it is a book on our shelf of life. That book gets opened every once in a while (like when he has his yearly recheck or when he had that node biopsied last year), but for the most part we are lucky to have it on the shelf closed. There are lessons in having lived that journey. Lessons that make us stronger, hopeful and grateful. But the strongest lesson is this truth-- that real strength ONLY comes from the Lord. He is an AWESOME and POWERFUL God. One whom I love, and I know you adore. All glory belongs to Him!

    Love you...


  22. Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful post, Hannah.
    What an amazing testimony. I wish I could be more like you. :)


  23. Wow, Bekah...those were truly inspired words which brought me to more than tears. I'm desperately thankful you have your dad for all those incredible moments you have to come and for all those little moments you can share together. We have an AWESOME God!

    Thank you for sharing your heart!

  24. Hey, Hannah--I MEANT to say, Hannah, but I think I wrote Bekah...I must be going crazy! Sorry!

    You're a treasure!

  25. Thank you thank you for posting this.. beautiful!

  26. You truly have a rare gift for reaching into the depths of the soul with words, Hannah. Don't ever lose it. It's wonderful to see someone your age have such passion and sincerity for living for God.

  27. Beautiful post, Hannah! My cousin, who is only 6 months younger than me, was diagnosed with cancer when we were both 8. He had to go for chemo for about 8 months. Luckily, he has been cancer free for almost 4 years. Doesn't God perform such wonderful miracles?


  28. Aww what a beautiful post Hannah :)

  29. I praise the Lord for His hand on your life and your dad's life. You have a wonderful story to tell. Thank you for telling it.

  30. Beautiful post Hannah...
    I didn't even know your dad had cancer. What a hard trial but God does all things for good. What a sweet story about the shoes...
    Love you!

  31. This is such an encouraging post! God is so good, even when it is difficult at the time to understand why He puts us through hard times. It is so nice when a trial is past and we can look back and see what God has done for us, how He has helped us grow in Him!

  32. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your comments on my photos. I have really enjoyed reviewing your blog and can see you are truly an amazingly smart and talented young lady. I will be stopping by often. Thanks again!

  33. I'm sure you hear this all the time... but you are a wise, wise girl for such a young age!

    Be blessed-

  34. Beautiful post, you are a strong girl

  35. Wow, this was such a touching post. You have such a talent for writing. It's so awesome that your dad was healed and is alive and well...and that you allowed yourself to grow so much through that hard time.

  36. Very sweet, post Hannah. =) When I was ten my 4 year-old cousin Mallory was diagnosed with cancer. She died less than a year later. Your post really touched me.

  37. Hannah

    That was a lovely post. Very thoughtful and well written. And though it may not seem like it encouraging for us all along lifes sometimes bumpy roads. To cling to the Lord.

  38. Amen!
    Life is so precious, so valuable, such a gift from God. LOVE this post!

  39. Hannah,

    You truly have a gift from the Lord with words! I have read a number of great Blogs from you before, but this one prompted me to write.

    As someone who had his mom diagnosed with cancer at 6 and lost her into Jesus' arms at 7, I relate to a number of your expressions.

    Not having her at my high school graduation, my marriage to Jen, or the birth of our five kids, each event had a moment of remembering my mom and giving thanks to the Lord for her.

    I have a Bible that she jotted notes in during her illness, but it is her handwritten 3x5 index card of I Peter 1:3-8 that continues to remind me of what your Blog pointed me toward today...hope in Jesus.

    Your Friend,
    Jason Holt

  40. That was a beautiful post Hannah. Thank you for sharing!

  41. Hannah-
    Your words are so powerful...I can't even begin to imagine what you and your family has gone through...BUT you are right when you say that God is Hope. It's something that I'm learning at this very moment in my life...Keep walking with Him daily....I don't know you but I can see His hand all over your life especially through your words..
    Powerful post. Thank you!

    Oh yea-I'm so glad that you have your dad today! Dads are the best!

  42. I love your posts! They are beautiful!

    I'm glad that your dad doesn't have cancer any more. :P

    In Christ,

  43. Just discovered your blog (and it's so well written and so gorgeous I can't stop reading). This post is so candid and beautiful. It was so brave of you to share this and I can only imagine how it felt like a big hug to other people reading who've gone through something similar. I'm so touched by what you've written. Thanks for sharing something so personal and painful (and beautiful too).