Healing Tears!

April 11, 2007 from Skip | Photos, The Whole Story, Ups and Downs| 6 Comments | ««Previous - Next»»

A report of a very different nature below from Don, sent at 6pm tonight. This one, as Don puts it, is on the condition of his heart.

Skip, for Don & Heather

—–

Today was another beautiful day in Seattle and we are expecting a few more nice days through Friday. We had some dear friends, Mike and Linda, arrive to visit for a couple of days. We have known them since around 1990 living in the same neighborhood in Sacramento before we moved to the NW. They have been traveling in New Zealand the last few years. Seeing them brings back many great memories from spontaneous dinners together, camping trips, and rafting on the Sacramento river. This afternoon we took them for a stroll on Alki Beach in West Seattle. The sun was out, it was cool and breezy yet it didn’t stop some kids from lying out in their bathing suits on the sand. We were dressed in two layers of fleece!

As we walked today, I had to walk slower than normal since my liver tube has been aching. I replaced the skin clamp yesterday and moved the tube a bit so today I am feeling it. I have to say it was hard to be walking so slow, stopping to sit on a park bench and remembering how athletic I normally am. While I am not one to complain, I have to be honest and tell you it has been an emotional day for some reason.

At 4PM two dear neighbors, Inga and Jaime came over to massage my feet. Jaime also brought me a double tall non-fat Latte from Starbucks. What a girl! We have known Jaime for a long time and she was with us in 2000 when we lived in Guatemala for a month after I left Starbucks. Now she is married to Adam and lives only a few houses away with their boys Asher and Josiah. Inga works with the UW students we are engaged with in Vision 16 and feels like one of several daughters we have here in the U District. As we talked today, it was an exceptionally sweet time but I found myself in tears. I found myself wishing I could have one day I could run around Greenlake and take Heather and the boys on a wild adventure. While I am grateful they were all energized on their trip to Big White last weekend, I am sensitive to my inability to be normal Don as a husband and a dad, not able to even join them on the trip. Fortunately I have had a lot of runs to remember and as many adventures with the family. I also recognize that in many ways I am a better husband and a better dad through this journey with cancer. There are some things you just can’t learn without facing your own mortality. Breathing every breath, living every day, finding joy in little things as much as the big things. Recognizing that we go through seasons as much as the flowers and trees that are now coming to life so vividly in springtime. Some people learn this as children and never forget, others like me, really need something to grab our attention.

Tears don’t always make sense- they don’t come when you think they should and then do when you least expect them. Today has been one of those days. I don’t worry about the outcome of the cancer, I don’t have fears about the future, I don’t even regret any of the negatives of the last 6 months, since they have all turned out to be positives, amazing blessings. I cannot think of anything negative that has transpired other than the aches and pains. That tells you how much better my feet are feeling, doesn’t it! Yet today the tears are flowing and feel good like a spring rain. It reminds me how healing tears can be. This is hard to explain as a scientist. In this season of my life I find that some of the best things in life are hard to explain as a scientist.

Jaime andall-together.jpg Inga really lifted my spirits as they reminded me that many people beyond you and me Skip actually read these e-mails and are somehow encouraged. I am grateful for that, encouraged and surprised. While I am blessed to have many dear friends around the world that continue to remind me that they are praying for me (the picture on the left is from friends at Casa Victoria in Old Quito, Ecuador), I am often surprised from the people who are encouraged I don’t even know- how great is that! That was really my hope in creating the blog. I have kept all the e-mails I have sent and added journal notes to fill in the blanks, thinking that my family and friends might enjoy reading them sometime. What I found was that I really love reading them, seeing the ups and downs and remembering how faithful God has been and continues to be in the journey. Having the blog makes it so much easier to jump from month to month, finding my own messages give me a lift from day to day. Thank you James (Snook). There would be no blog without your gracious offer to create it. Of course my hope is that the blog and e-mails can encourage others without having to go through such a severe cancer. It would be great to receive some comments on the blog from time to time just to know that.

Thanks for listening Skip. This is not one of my typical clinical reports yet in many ways it is more clinical than the hospital reports I occasionally give. Why? Because the hospital reports focus on my illness, my tumors, the chemotherapy. This e-mail gives you an insight into the condition of my heart, soul, mind and strength. All is well! With a tender, open, compassionate heart, anything is possible.

Blessings

don

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Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Barry Rowan on April 11, 2007 11:32 pm

    Hey Don,

    I, along with so many of your many friends, read every word of every email you send through Skip. It is a privilege to accompany you on your remarkable journey of faith and pain, suffering and redemption, and to vicariously experience God’s palpable presence through your journey. I had never seen your full website before, and I admire and appreciate your commitment to this communication when it must often feel like the last thing you want to do.

    I especially appreciate your observations from the heart as you described “Healing Tears” in today’s message. The clinical description of the disease will one day fade away, but the changes wrought in your heart will last into the eternity we can look forward to together. I so deeply appreciate your friendship and your model. And it’s also nice to eat a Burgermaster burger together every so often…..We’ll do it again soon!!

    Barry Rowan

  2. dustin on April 12, 2007 11:51 am

    Don, the blog is awesome. Even though I’ve read every email update, I still found myself lingering on the site re-reading things over again and enjoying every minute. The last post (Healing Tears) may have been the best yet. What you are giving all of us through your updates is amazing and it’s hard to think of a higher calling. Praise God for the love and encouragement that his Spirit is dispensing through Don Valencia! Of course the good news is we all have the same Spirit in us or available to us, just waiting to be released if we’ll let our shell be broken. This is a miracle, of which I’m only beginning to understand the implications.

    Love you and praying with you, brother.
    dustin

  3. Marian Engebretson on April 12, 2007 1:27 pm

    Don– Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Dave & I think of you often, wondering how you & yours are doing. I spoke with Greg Rake today, and I asked him about you. He told me of your blog–it’s beautiful. You have a gifted way of being clinically (the scientist you are) & heartfully honest and effacing. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    Marian & Dave Engebretson

  4. Steve Sywulka on April 12, 2007 1:57 pm

    Dear Don:

    Your life, attitude, honesty, and strength are truly inspirational. Thank you for letting us be part of your journey.

    Steve

    Steve and Beth Sywulka

  5. Brooke Anderson on April 12, 2007 8:25 pm

    Hi Don,

    This was an amazing email to read today. I read your emails every time. I soak them up and think about you and pray for you. Know that your words permeate. I am so glad that you had a carthatic day with Jaime and Inga today. They are a perfect team to visit and bring encouragement from the Lord. I wanted to let you know too that Karen and Niki (our neighbors) asked that I send them your emails, so I send them to them and they love reading them. It’s undeniable that you are with Him and being blessed by Him in this.

    Our family is leaving tomorrow for a week in California. We leave on Friday and are going to be gone until the next Sunday. We’re really looking forward to being together away from any responsibilities.

    We love you Don.

    Brooke

  6. Allison Singleton on April 13, 2007 7:50 am

    Hi Don,

    Jaime sends me these emails (and now we can check the blog!) so we have been able to keep up with how you are doing. I was a mentor with Vision 16 a few years back and knew Heather. You and I maybe met in passing a few times but I don’t think we ever shared much time together.

    I just sat down to read my email tonight and couldn’t help but respond to this one. You hoped to hear from people that you are encouraging so I must write. This may end up being a long and wordy email so bear with me. When I first heard that you had stage 4 cancer, I immediately thought of Heather since I know her better than you. I know her to be a kind, loving, generous and beautiful woman. You were both on my heart in a major way one day and I shared your story with my dad who lives in Chicago and asked him to pray for you. (this was back in November, I think). He asked me to forward on the emails that Jaime sends to me so he can keep up with how you’re doing also. So, I did that and continue to do so. (As an aside, he has been lightly involved in the National Prayer Breakfast and knows people in common with Wes Anderson and others and later heard more prayer requests for you from another person! Small world!)

    Anyway, back to the encouragement! 🙂 I have two boys, one is 4 and the other is 11 months. It has been a very trying year for me as a stay-at-home mom. The baby doesn’t sleep and is very attached to me, blah, blah, blah… so I complain to my parents a lot :). One time I was wondering aloud to my dad where God is in all this (it sounds petty to say this to you, forgive me) and his response was, “Remember what your friend Don says, Allison: ‘God is Good – all the time – God is good’.”

    And although we may not always understand Him, it’s always good to remember what you say – God is indeed GOOD. So thank you for reminding us of that. It helps keep things in perspective for me and keeps me looking toward Him.

    We continue to think and pray for you and your family. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Peace,
    Allison Singleton

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