HE TRAINED MY COURAGE
Perhaps the shock of Werner’s diagnosis followed by the lethal prognosis of Stage III esophageal cancer with lymph nodes involved, traumatized me more than I realized. I wondered if horrific thoughts also taunted other people, particularly caregivers, in similar circumstances, and did they endure the taunts in silence for fear of ridicule or admonishment. One thing I knew, I had an enemy. It wasted little time attempting to discredit my trust in God’s promise to sustain my courage by infecting me with an emotional cancer ripe with despair.
In his preface to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equals and opposite errors into which I can fall about the adversary’s minions. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
God knew the intensity of the battle we faced on the front-line of cancer. Through these events, He began my training.
The information I read about esophageal cancer left me realizing that I would lose my husband to this disease. Appalled, I felt that in my mind I had betrayed Werner’s hope to beat this cancer. My enemy, the mocking voice, attacked my troubled emotions on a simple expression of love – a good night kiss.
“You kiss a dead man,” the mocking voice taunted when our lips met in a goodnight kiss. Under my skin, I recoiled from those words and flung out a prayer to God, “please protect this viper’s attack from Werner.” I returned his kiss and said, “Good night my love,” as if nothing happened. I slept, but I did not rest. The nightmare began.
Werner and I had a funny little front door ritual. He played along to amuse me. It went like this.
Pitch black nights surrounded our mountain chalet located far off the road on six isolated acres. On the nights Werner had meetings and returned home without his house key, I greeted him at the locked door, “Is that you, Werner?”
He’d laugh, “Yes love, it’s me,” and sometimes he added something funny. Only then would I open the door.
However this night, in a dream about the funny door ritual, it turned ugly.
Sleeping alone in the house, a middle of the night knock on the front door woke me. I left my bed, walked through the dark house to the front door. I placed my hand around the door knob, “Is that you, Werner?” Silence. Yet I felt the cold of something sinister waiting in the pitch black silence on the other side of the door. Dread cupped my hold around the doorknob. With more boldness than I felt, I called louder, “Is that you Werner?’
“No,” came the dead cold reply.
My hand flew off the doorknob, and I cried out in the night.
A moment later I heard, “Wake-up, love, wake-up, you are having a bed dream.”
The next morning, I woke-up weighted down under a depression that poisoned my thoughts throughout the day. If this was what oppression felt like,I was in it.