April 24, 2016

I am a widow

I am a widow.

The word doesn’t want to come out of my mouth, but it’s a word my brain keeps playing with.

I keep thinking back over the last 3 weeks. I sat in the hospital next to his bed for more hours than I can count.

Before he was intubated, I would lay next to him and beg him to just breathe.

Just keep on breathing…

His lungs were destroyed so fast. I am what his doctors call an “excellent patient advocate.” That means I asked questions like my life depended on it… like his life depended on it…

The doctors were very kind and patient and were good at showing me the progressive scans and X-rays of his lungs. I’m no doctor, but even I could see that what was happening was happening very, very fast.

One of the chemotherapy drugs he was given - a lower dose than usual - caused a devastating toxic reaction in his lungs that happens so rarely it’s never been studied. When it does happen, there is only a very small percentage that doesn’t respond to the steroids…

From when the disease began until death was about 10 days.

Ten of the longest, shortest days of my life.

And there was nothing anyone could do.

We said goodbye, just in case. He made the decision to be intubated. I was both thankful that he made that choice so I didn’t have to, and devastated that he chose to. We all knew it was the last chance he had to live, but we also new that chance was only a whisper.

We laid in the hospital bed together, whispering our last words.

We have a little thing we’ve been saying to each other for almost 15 years. He says the first line and then I finish it with my part. I can’t tell you what we say because it’s our secret. But we both knew we were saying it for the last time.

As the doctors and nurses bustled around the room preparing for the intubation, instrumental hymns played from Pandora. I watched the doctor unpack the emergency kits and give orders to the nurse.

My husband and I gazed into each other’s eyes for the last time, and I was asked to sit in a chair away from the bed. I wanted to scream at everyone to leave him alone and to get out. I wanted to scream at my husband to not give up. To not leave me. I wanted to run back over and so he could hold me one last time.

The doctor came over and we had to discuss if they would resuscitate him if it didn’t go well. The decision was made that they would not.

The roughly 48-hours he was intubated there were moments when we could communicate to him. He would nod or shake his head, or give a thumbs up. He tried to write to me a few times, but the only word I was ever able to read from him was, “HURT.”

His lungs continued to deteriorate so quickly. First a hole in one lung, then one in the other. The medical team worked around the clock to try to keep him stable. Friday morning it was apparent that they no longer could. He was likely already suffering brain damage from the low oxygen levels. Because of the lack of oxygen, his heart was also beginning to fail.

There was no more chance. No more hope.

The children arrived around 10 am. Amelia sobbed like a child should never, ever cry when I told them that Papa was going to die. I explained what was going to happen. I reminded them what we believe about the Christian hope we have after death. I wept with them.

We all went into the room and surrounded him with all the love in our hearts. Both our families were there, and my best friend.

The tube came out and he continued to breathe on his own for about an hour. And then, he didn’t.

He slipped quietly into the deep sleep of death as I clung to his side.

My heart. Oh my heart.

I never imagined I could feel so dead inside.

Yet, despite all the sadness and pain, it doesn’t feel dark to me. Instead of what I was expecting - a dark shadow to consume me - I instead find myself wrapped in love and light.

Maybe the darkness is still to come, but for now, I am comforted knowing that my husband can rest until Jesus calls for him to wake up and go to heaven. I am comforted knowing how much love is being poured out for our family. I am comforted by looking into my children’s faces and seeing him live on. I am comforted with the knowledge that he ran his race well, didn’t stop until the end and finished with grace and love.

41 comments:

Kelli Jean said...

I'm so glad that you have friends there to wrap you in their love, and that we do have hope that this is not the end of Todd's story, just a pause. I will continue in prayer for you and your 2 sweet children.

Kelli Jean said...

I'm so glad that you have friends there to wrap you in their love, and that we do have hope that this is not the end of Todd's story, just a pause. I will continue in prayer for you and your 2 sweet children.

Kimberly Little said...

I cannot fathom how incredibly this must hurt, EVEN WITH that hope we have in the resurrection. Our thoughts and prayers continue for your family.

Judy said...

Words are not coming Cas--just tears. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

Kelly said...

Cas, you do not know me. I "met" you via face time during a Bible study recently. My heart hearts for you. I am so sorry for your incredible loss. Please know you and your children are in my prayers. -Kelly

Stormi Baumann said...

This journey and your transparency through this has had such an impact on my own life. A life so disconnected from yours. Yet I have come to empathize deeply and deeply respecect your faith. I pray for you and your sweet kiddos, and all I can say is thank you. Your families story of strength, courage, love and faith is one that I will never forget.
-Stormi

Tricia said...

Cas,
Words cannot express how sorry we are for your loss. Todd was an incredible person that we were blessed to have known. You and your children will be in our thoughts and prayers!
-Dave and Tricia Muth

Lanett Merrills said...

Cas....no one should ever have to go through what you and your sweet babies are going through. My heart just aches for you and I cry with you. You are so incredibly brave and strong even if you don't feel like you are. You have been such a witness of His grace and His strength in the face of this darkest trial. As we near the end of this world...and I believe we ARE at the end, we will all have our trails to face and you have given many of us the example to to follow, to TRUST God and hang onto our faith. I only hope that when I face my darkest hour that I can manage to have the grace strength that you have shown me. Write Cas....write...you are such an inspiration to ALL of us! Much love and prayers always!

Leigh said...

Cas my heart is broken into a million pieces for your precious family. This is such a devastating loss and I am so sorry that you all have to endure it. Praying that you continue to be wrapped in that love and light. May Jesus return quickly.

Unknown said...

Cas, My heart breaks for you and your little family. Hold onto God. I pray for His Comfort to be with you as you begin moving through these days. Be kind to yourself. Don't expect to get anything done outside the necessities of meals and seeing to the kids' needs. Know that your AHE family is here to support you in whatever way possible. Hugs.

Stephanie said...

Cas,
First, you are absolutely amazing and your faith and hope astounds me! Second, I thank God that you are surrounded by love and family. Thirdly, please know that my heart is absolutely broken for you. And, Thank-you for sharing wih us and please know that you and your family will be in my continual thoughts and prayers. Lots of love!

rhondihorrocks said...

I am amazed by your great strength, and humbled by it. We have only met once it twice, Amelia was a baby or at least a small toddler, and you didn't have your son yet. I came out to visit my best friend Kim and fall in love with Medford. It seems like a hundred years ago now, but I remember thinking your family was unique. I realize now I was correct, unique in your unwavering faith and your deep love for each other. You are in my prayers from Utah. May God continue to bless you will calm, and light in this dark hour.

rhondihorrocks said...

I am amazed by your great strength, and humbled by it. We have only met once it twice, Amelia was a baby or at least a small toddler, and you didn't have your son yet. I came out to visit my best friend Kim and fall in love with Medford. It seems like a hundred years ago now, but I remember thinking your family was unique. I realize now I was correct, unique in your unwavering faith and your deep love for each other. You are in my prayers from Utah. May God continue to bless you will calm, and light in this dark hour.

cherilyclough.com said...

Been reading your blog for several years now and I am crying as I read this. I am praying for our Father to keep you and Millie and Same wrapped in His love through the next weeks and months and for a lifetime. As a family you lived for Jesus and Todd gave his life into God's hands so I am confident you will be reunited again, but for now I can only imagine your longing to hold his hand. I pray for God to keep holding it for you until you see Todd again.
May Peace and blessings and goodness follow you all the days of your life!

Valerie Remboldt said...

I am Kelsey Lieuallen's Mom Valerie. I want you to know my heart goes out to you, Millie and Sam and your extended family and Todd's family. Prayer for you was requested during the church service at the Walla Walla University Church yesterday. It is Alumni Week-end and the church service was exceptionally beautiful, so full of comfort and hope. We sang the hymn "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! and verse 2 says, " Alleluia! not as orphans, are we left in sorrow now! Alleluia He is near us, Faith believes, nor questions how. Though the cloud from sight received Him, when the forty days were o'er, Shall our hearts forget His promise, "I am with you evermore."

There was a special reunion this week-end for those who had been in Touring Choirs along with the current I Cantori singers and they sang, "He Watching Over Israel" from Mendelssohn's Elijah Oratorio. It is based on Psalm 121:4, "He watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps," and Psalm 138:7, "Shouldst thou, walking in grief, languish, He will quicken thee."

And the sermon was based on Revelation 15:1-4, about our promise of singing the song of Moses and the Lamb on the sea of glass with the harps that God will give us.

If you think the service would comfort you, and would like to watch a recording of it, you can find it on the Walla Walla University Church website: http://www.wwuchurch.com/#worship-live


Ruth Roberts said...

Cas Anderson i dont know you but you are a special person to my cousin Tammi and Mariah and the family your words you wrote are absolutely wonderful and so touching my heart goes out to you and your family and will keep you in my prayers.
God bless you take care
Ruth Roberts

Calwyn Bernard said...

Hi Cas,
I've never met you or your husband before but I've been following your story on Facebook since your husband was hospitalized. I'm from Guyana and want to thank you guys for the time and energy you gave to help my people there. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and your children.

Unabandonable said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christie said...

I am sitting here, sobbing. This is rare for me these days because I try so hard to keep my emotions in check. When I lost my husband, the darkness came. There was never any peace or light. I have come to wonder if it would have come if I'd looked for it. I'm so proud of you. Please keep looking for that light. Do not let the darkness take it away. I wanted to reach out to you to provide support, and I still am willing if you need it, but tonight, you supported me.

Katrina Hovanski said...

My Dear Friend,
I am so very sorry! My heart is with you and I am praying for you and Amelia and little Sam. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. It has blessed me. I am so glad that you have family and friends around you. Jesus loves you and He is taking care of you. All my love, Katrina

Unknown said...

Cas, we have never met but I have heard your story from mutual friends. My prayers are with you and your precious little ones. I know that Jesus is with you and will continue to stand by you. Praying He wraps his arms tightly around you and your little ones, tonight and each night until you are reunited with your husband on that glorious day...

mahaugsted said...

Hi there. My name is Melissa Haugsted. I don't know you, and you don't know me, but we have a couple of mutual friends - one being Natalie who posted a link to this on FB. Three and a half years ago, when my children were 5 and 8, I lost my husband to cancer. My story is different from yours in that his battle was long and I had much more time to prepare myself and my children for what I knew was coming, but there are some aspects of your story that just sound so familiar. Like you two, my husband and I had also planned on a life of mission service. (And believe it or not, that's actually what I'm currently doing!) Just know that I am praying for you and your children, and if you ever feel the need to connect with somebody who is also walking the road of young widowhood, please don't hesitate to look me up on FB.

Brooke Erhard said...

Cas, I have been praying for you all!! May you continue to feel all the love and support from friends, family and God. I will continue to pray for you and your sweet children. Word from Mercy Me that come to mind are "I've never been more home sick then now". Someday and hopefully soon we will all be home and you all will be reunited. Hugs.

Kelly Linfoot said...

Oh Cas, there are so many of us who weep with you and your family. We wish we could help more tangibly--but can do so little from a distance. We pray for you all as you are thrust into a new and painful normal. May you all feel God embracing you and crying with you through this dark time.

Lynelle Ellis said...

Cas,

I didn't learn about what you were going through until Sabbath morning. I don't have any good words to share with you--just cried my way through your beautiful blog post "I am a widow." I'm praying for you! My heart is crying with you.

So glad for the hope we have in Jesus.

Lynelle

Shara Dozier said...

My husband was diagnosed with Cancer in 2015. He has Colon cancer that metastized to his liver. 6 months of chemo and one surgury later it's gone we praised God through it all. At the 6 month check up it back. They decided to do surgery first and chemo second. Now I wait and pray and have faith. We have a 10 year old daughter who is confused. We just keep telling her it is God will. I prayed for your husband when I first read the article about him being incubated. I am so sorry for your loss and your families loss. One thing that my husband told me is Grace. Remember that Christ gives u the grace for today, and tomorrow he will give u Grace for that day. Close your eyes and feel His everlasting loving arms around u. Just keep fighting He is never finished with us. I hope u read this and u find comfort in it. God bless you

Shara Dozier said...

My husband was diagnosed with Cancer in 2015. He has Colon cancer that metastized to his liver. 6 months of chemo and one surgury later it's gone we praised God through it all. At the 6 month check up it back. They decided to do surgery first and chemo second. Now I wait and pray and have faith. We have a 10 year old daughter who is confused. We just keep telling her it is God will. I prayed for your husband when I first read the article about him being incubated. I am so sorry for your loss and your families loss. One thing that my husband told me is Grace. Remember that Christ gives u the grace for today, and tomorrow he will give u Grace for that day. Close your eyes and feel His everlasting loving arms around u. Just keep fighting He is never finished with us. I hope u read this and u find comfort in it. God bless you

Emily Poole said...

My heart is so very broken for you and yet all at once inspired. I know you won't go alone in this journey, but leaning on God and letting the weight rest there. Saying a prayer for you now. <3 Emily (Wilkens) Poole

Juan Palomino said...

Dear Cas and children: your faith in God, who conquered death will keep you alive... Alive in the hope of the reencounter with your beloved husband and father, in that blessed day. We accompany you with our hearts and prayers. Luis, Lucero, Juan.

Brigitte said...

May God keep you all close to His heart and continue to give you the comfort you need. Todd was a vey special man who will be missed by us all. I pray that God will give you strength and wisdom as you go forward without him. It will be a challenge to sort out your lives now, but by God's grace you will manage. He draws close to the widows and the fatherless. You and your kids are safe in His hands! Praying for you!

Bolivia Missions said...

I am crying with you. I have never met you, but met Todd. I am Fawna, Jeff Suttons wife. I am so sorry. Keep holding on to Jesus. Hymn181 has meant a lot to me. Last verse. Does Jesus care when I've said goodbye to the dearest on earth to me, and ny sad heart aches till it nearly breaks, is it aught to Him does He see? O yes, He cares I know He cares ! His Hart is touched with ny grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.

blestbutstrest said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May the Holy Spirit comfort you and your children as you grieve.

Chuck Austin said...

I've only met you through a couple zoom meetings with COE, but my heart hurts for you and your girls, and Todd's family. At this time I'm sure there are no words I could share to comfort you. But knowing your strong faith in Jesus (through your blog and evidenced by your connection with GMI), I know He will comfort you and strengthen you day by day.

CC Teyler said...

Cas - I am so terribly sad to hear this. What a great team you were! I so admired your Christian behavior and Stewardship, and sharing your gifts. I pray for your strength and courage, guidance and comfort during this difficult time. May you be surrounded by love. -CC

CC Teyler said...

Cas - I am so terribly sad to hear this. What a great team you were! I so admired your Christian behavior and Stewardship, and sharing your gifts. I pray for your strength and courage, guidance and comfort during this difficult time. May you be surrounded by love. -CC

Lauren said...

Cas, I'm not sure if you'll remember me. We met at WWU in 2006/2007, and you graciously invited me to your home for a gathering, and we were casual friends/acquaintances. I just heard about the journey you and your family have been on, and I'm heartbroken for you and the loss of your husband. As I've been reading through your blog, the love, courage, and grace with which you've traveled this road is inspiring. I will continue to uplift you and your family in thought and prayer. Much love and blessings to you. <3

kamperkat said...

My heart breaks for you as I share in your tears. Thoughts and prayers are with you, Millie, Sam, and the Anderson family as you remember the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and comfort each other with the blessed promise of the resurrection! Hold on to that blessed hope, Cas!

Pedrito 1 said...

Cas, my heart hurts for you intensely. But my prayers ascend for you and the kids abundantly. We will see him again! Blessings.

Colette Guthrie said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss and your family's loss Cas. My tears are flowing. I look forward to the day when there will be no more tears ... Revelation 21:4

Colette

Azizi Johnson said...

Cas,

I'm so sorry. I don't even know what to say. All I can do is echo the words of the previous commenters and encourage you and your family to continue leaning on God for strength to get through. I'm praying for you.

Believer said...

Dear Sister in our Lord and Savior. I do not know you, or your family personally but as 'uncle Dave' likes to say and I believe We ARE FAMILY !
After reading your words. I can only imagine the pain and void you are going through. After all you are a human.
I will be praying for you and your children. For God to continue strengthening and comforting you every step of the journey.
My heartfelt sympathy. Now keep your view on the hope that the reunion will be SOON. All signs indicate it won't delay !!

cas anderson (2016) . Powered by Blogger.