Present

Pedro and Laura, shortly after he decided to fight.

Pedro and Laura, shortly after he decided to fight.

 

 

 

“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.

Eleven years later

Eleven years later

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.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • This truly touched my heart, bless you.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Denise. Enjoy God’s present to you today :)!

  • So incredibly powerful and beautiful. Wow.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you for dropping by, Monica :). Have a blessed day.

  • Donne

    That moment of cross-over from resigned to determined was indeed a present, as was the joy on Laura’s face as her proud papa walked her down the path. 🙂

    • Anita Ojeda

      God is good. All the time. The key is realizing the present of each day and not worrying about tomorrow or the next moment (a lesson I often have to relearn).

  • I think of the miracle every time I see you! This moves me beyond words. Hugs!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Conna! It’s good to remember the journey. May God be with you and yours as you journey through the rough places, may the Holy Spirit comfort you.

  • Sharon Strawn Conn

    Beautifully spoken Anita !! God is sooooo good and I will be forever grateful for His grace to me as well. That experience is one that will dim in view but will never be forgotten by any of you. My prayer were with your family
    then and will continue.
    Blessings~~~~~~Aunt Sharon

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Aunt Sharon! You’re a miracle, too :)! God is good.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing this, it is beautiful. I can read the joy leaping off the page of your present! God’s faithfulness is ever amazing!

    • Anita Ojeda

      You’re welcome, Jennifer :). May God bless you as you journey through life and experience his faithfulness.

  • Laura Melchor

    There are no words to describe how that walk felt for me! It was the best walk of my life. Thank you for the reminder of the hard years that preceded that day and made it so valuable and beautiful, Mommy!

    • Anita Ojeda

      You’re welcome, Mrs. Melchor (the beautiful bride in the photo and the little girl with the football)! God is ever faithful and true.

  • Beth

    Donne is right, she has a wonderful writer for a sister, and You, her sister is strong, and willing to walk through hell for miracles. Blessings on you and all of yours.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you for your kind words, Beth! My strength comes from weak faith that grows daily through constant exercise ;). God is good.

  • Roy Chang

    I read your story when you post it every time.
    Every time, I gain new things from your touching
    stories. Glad to see my dear family latest life again!
    Thank you for sharing this ,.
    Wish I were there joining Laura’s big day.
    And, miss you so much.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Roy! I wish you could have been there, too! We had a wonderful day. It’s nice to know that someone from so far away thinks about us and misses us :). We miss you, too.

  • Oh Friend, Tears here on a Sunday morning. What a beautiful story. A reminder of how being present as far reaching effects. Thank you for sharing such a touching moment with all of us. It is an honour to read these words.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Tonya :). There’s nothing like reviewing the signposts of God’s love in our lives to fill us with gratitude and thanksgiving.

  • Anita, thank you for sharing with us such a touching story. So beautiful! I’m grateful you stopped by my place as it led me here.
    Blessings to you,
    Beth

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you for your kind words, Beth! And thank you for stopping by :).

  • Wow! What an incredible story! So glad he was able to be there!!

    • Anita Ojeda

      God is good!

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