In 1996 I gave birth to my son, our first child of three. In 1998, at 16 months old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes. What started as a fairly normal childhood quickly became filled with blood tests, counting carbs, shots, diabetic seizures, doctor’s visits, and hospital stays. Our new normal took over a year to get used to and we believed we had survived the worst that this family would survive. In 1999 we added another son to the mix, and in 2004 we completed our family with the addition of a daughter. Our lives were full and running smoothly.
Later in 2004 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I spent the year training with my best friend and in 2005 we walked The-3-Day, a 60-mile walk for Susan G. Komen to raise money to fight breast cancer. My mom survived the cancer and nearly a year to the day she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Again, she fought and defeated the cancer. One more year and she would call again with the news of a skin cancer. Thankfully, none of these were related and her odds of surviving long term were great. She beat the skin cancer and in 2010 we walked The-3-Day together.
By the time of her second diagnosis (2006) the low-level depression I had been battling most of my life reared its ugly head and I ended up taking a 4-month leave of absence. I was completely unable to function. Thankfully I had a great support system of amazing people who helped take care of my new baby girl, clean my home, and basically keep me moving forward despite my relentless stuckness. When finally I healed –not enough to be well, but enough to return to work – I lost my job. By 2008 I had found another job and had arranged to have gastric bypass surgery to help combat the 100 pounds I had gained during the job I had lost. Due to the surgery, the alcohol I had never before been interested in became my primary obsession and in 2010 I entered treatment for the first time to battle addiction. Later in 2010 my daughter, then 6 years old, was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and the routine for my oldest became two complementary routines.
By the end of 2011 I realized I had to leave my job for my own sanity and for my kids, and I left a full-time paying job to start a business of my own. All seemed finally to be looking up. Then in 2012 my middle son was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. A triple threat. In 2012, 2013, and 2014 I had annual trips to treatment as I continued to battle addiction. By the end of 2014 we thought perhaps the worst was over – after all, I had finally managed to maintain a healthy period of sobriety, and all three kids had already been struck with incurable auto-immune diseases. What more could happen?
A question I never should have asked. In the fall of 2014, just when my oldest was beginning to plan for college, he was diagnosed with MS. Another incurable auto-immune disease. We battled our way through the devastating news, got him off to college (not without some trepidation), and entered 2015 with hopefulness that all would be well.
By the end of 2015 my sister (a single mom by choice) was diagnosed with colon cancer, and we started having conversations about my raising her kids if she should not survive it. She nearly lost her battle, becoming so sick from the chemo she would have given up if not for her kids. I spent a week visiting her (I live in Minnesota, she lives in California) and helping with the kids while she lay in bed unable to function. Finally, she beat her cancer (to the best of our knowledge) and has been cancer-free for 2 months now.
Every year at Christmas I look at the Christmas cards from last year as I replace them with the cards from the current year. And every year I imagine what the following year will bring. What will have happened to our family by the time I replace the Christmas cards next year?
Am I Job? No. I have not lost a child. But I have lost the hopes and dreams I had for children who would live long, healthy lives. The odds that I will lose a child before I die are higher than most. Have I lost all my worldly possessions? No. But we eke by day by day. We don’t go on expensive vacations or have cabins up North. We do spend nearly $800 a month on medications. Have I lost my health to sores that cover me from head to toe? No. But being in the grip of active addiction brought me to the point of wishing I was dead every single day.
Am I Job? No. I am Kace. Do I suffer? Yes, I suffer. Do I still have faith in a loving God? Absolutely! It is the only way to keep getting out of bed day after day. To answer the phone when I know it’s a bill collector, and all I want to do is hide under the covers and weep. To be present for my kids every single day and model faith, hope, and love for them. Do I still have faith in a loving God? For me, it’s the only option.
Job 1:13 – 2:13
One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong-doing.
One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.