Shannon here: Elaine Cooper shares an emotional time in her family’s life and her husband’s gesture of sacrifice. A tear-jerker and an act of true love. Comment on any post dated March 14 – 19 for a chance to win a copy of The Road to Deer Run. Deadline: March 19, midnight central time. Here’s Elaine:
A Gift Like No Other by Elaine Marie Cooper
I looked at my husband with disbelieving eyes and could barely get the words out.
“Thank you,” was all I could say.
But this was no ordinary moment of gratitude. This was the most unselfish gift my husband has even given to me and I will never forget it.
It was 2002 and for the past four excruciating months, my husband Steve and I had been in the worst trial of our lives. Our 23-year-old daughter Bethany had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and we were thrust into the horror of daily radiation treatments for 6 weeks, along with doses of chemo that nearly killed her on its own. We were going through a living hell.
The illness had forced me to leave my job as a nurse and we were struggling. There were days I was so exhausted I felt that I might not survive. At those moments, I prayed that the Lord would allow me to live at least long enough to take care of my frail daughter.
While we were going through this battle at home, our oldest son, Ben, had been going through training at Officer’s Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. He had signed on with the Navy after 9-11 and had entered the program right about the same time Bethany was starting her cancer treatments. It was a time of emotional upheaval for Steve and I—like no other before or since.
As Ben’s June graduation was approaching, neither Steve nor I could talk about the upcoming event. Our daughter required care 24 hours a day, and her brain damage from the tumor made it difficult to find someone to be her caregiver that she could trust—and someone that we felt comfortable with as well. She was fragile, confused, and easily frightened. How could we leave her with a stranger? We knew we could not. And we both knew without saying it: one of us would be unable to see our son become a Navy officer. But we had put off the discussion, silently praying for an answer.
The answer came the day Steve broke the silence.
“I think you need to go see Ben graduate,” was all he said. I was not only shocked but grateful beyond belief for this unexpected offering. I accepted and looked at my caring husband with new eyes.
The day arrived to leave for Ben’s graduation and I kissed Steve and Bethany “Goodbye” with lots of hugs and tears. It was my first break from her daily care in months. Friends drove me to the airport three hours away where the flights were cheaper. I met my younger son, Nate, there at the airport in Kansas City and we flew together to Pensacola.
As all the other parents, family members and I sat in the chapel on the military base for the graduation ceremony, we listened to the strains of “I’m Proud to be an American.” Tears welled in my eyes. I was so proud to see my older son making this commitment to serve his country at a time when he would likely go to war. This was no easy choice for him.
Nor was it an easy choice for his Dad to give up such a moment of parental pride to give me the joy of this moment. I have never loved Steve more than when he gave me this most unforgettable gift—a truly sacrificial one.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Eph. 5:25
About Elaine: Elaine Marie Cooper grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in the Midwest with her husband Steve, her three dogs and one huge cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandbabies, who are often referred to (by her) as “the most beautiful grandbabies in the world.” Elaine’s only daughter, Bethany, passed away in 2003 from a brain tumor.
A retired registered nurse, Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years, and is a regular contributor to a blog on the Midwest called The Barn Door (www.thebarndoor.net) She is also the author of her debut novel called “The Road to Deer Run” and is currently writing the sequel. Elaine Cooper can be reached on FaceBook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000997223171 or visit her website at: http://www.DeerRunBooks.com
Come back March 19th for the countdown to Inkslinger readers’ favorite romantic post for the last quarter. See if your pick made the top 3 or top 10.
Come back March 21 for Lena Nelson Dooley’s first date story and a chance to win a copy of Love Finds You in Golden New Mexico.