“I’ll wait. Hurry here,” Pedro had told me the night before. And so I stood in his hospital room, tears in my eyes as he explained his misery and the doctor’s prognosis if they administered more radiation: the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient.
“Take me home. I quit.”
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Hospice. Just wanna die.” he replied, tears dripping from his eyes.
I paused, choosing my words carefully. I averted my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see him cry. “So, if they give you more radiation to stop the growth of the cancer, you might have memory problems. We don’t know how bad it could be. Your facial muscles don’t work, you see unevenly and your world looks lopsided, it takes you hours to eat and drink, each word takes effort, and all you can do is shuffle around. And you’re ready to quit.” I looked at him, and his miserable gaze confirmed my analysis.
“Is that fair to the girls?” I asked him. “Don’t you think they’d rather have a mumbling, shuffling, forgetful, lopsided-looking daddy who takes hours to eat than no daddy at all?”
I couldn’t believe I’d said that. My eyes jerked to his face, waiting for his reaction. It seemed slow in coming, and his frozen face gave no clue to his thoughts. His eyes stopped tearing, and he seemed to look far into the future.
He nodded his head with new determination. “O.K.”
“I’ll wait with Laura until we hear the string quartet,” Pedro told me as I rushed around, mentally checking off each last-minute detail that would make our eldest daughter’s wedding day everything she dreamed it would be. I could really have used some help setting up the reception area, finding the photo booth photographers, and making sure all the attendants had lined up correctly. But never mind.
Pedro deserved every ounce of enjoyment from this day, too. After all, this is what he’d fought for eleven years ago: the chance to walk his daughters down the aisle (he’s only half-finished with that job; he’ll get to complete it when Sarah finds her prince).
“Have fun!” I smiled as I hurried off to make sure we started on time. Pedro and Laura waited, out of sight, while everyone took their places.
I would savor every moment of the miracle.
The string quartet (consisting of three kids Laura used to babysit and a family friend) began. I looked toward the long, flower-lined walkway and saw Pedro and Laura round the corner and make their way towards the aisle. Their slow, but firm steps fit the solemnity and joy of the occasion. Pedro’s face expressed his pride and joy—no one would know that 11 years ago, his face had been frozen in place.
When the pastor asked, “Who gives this women to be joined in holy matrimony?”
Pedro and I looked at each other, grinned, and declared, “We do!” No mumbling on either of our parts.
And so I have only a few photos on my camera to record the momentous day. I chose to savor the miracle and live in the present during Laura and Pedro’s long walk—a walk that started in a hope-drained hospital room eleven years ago.
I will “remember the journey” (Micah 6:5). That is my present.