Monday, April 16, 2012

Young and indestructible

My father died 12 years ago in a palliative care hospital from cancer. I remember it as a kind of creepy place. One of those nondescript buildings you drive by every day, never knowing exactly what it is or knowing that there are people suffering inside.

I'll never forget walking through the halls of that hospital and seeing the patients there. I think he was in a wing designated especially for respiratory care, because it seemed that all the people had breathing problems. It was horrible to witness their suffering. Many sat in the hallways with their oxygen tanks, wheezing and looking at me with desperate, pleading eyes.  If you've seen those recent TV commercials about the effects of smoking, it was like that but multiplied by 20 or 30 that I walked past on my way to my father's room.  My heart broke for these people and I couldn't help thinking that if young people could only see this, could walk down this hallway, they would never pick up a cigarette in their life. Of course, I couldn't know whether smoking had been the cause of each person's suffering I saw there, but I did know it was likely.

My father had smoked for 30 years, during that era when smoking was "stylish" and it wasn't publicized how lethal a habit it was.  When I was about 3 years old, I refused to kiss him goodnight one night because I didn't like the smell of his smokey breath.  He immediately quit, cold turkey, and never smoked again. When I think about that now, I think how difficult that must have been for him after having smoked for 30 years, but that's how much my father loved me. God bless you, Daddy, I love you too.

It's easy to think that sickness and disease will never happen to you, especially when you're young -- you think you're indestructible.  But it can and it does.  I never smoked, I ate healthy, maintained a healthy weight, had regular check-ups, etc.  I took care of myself and yet still -- here I am fighting cancer.  You just never know, but still, why take chances with risky behavior that you know could endanger your health in the long run? Some of the people I love the most are smokers and I so wish they would quit.  I also worry about my kids not eating properly, not taking good care of their health. Don't I sound like a typical mother?

We are given these bodies as temporary vessels, as a temple of the Holy Spirit --
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I have been bought with a price, Jesus paid the greatest price. Those verses always spoke to me the serious responsibility of making good choices and taking good care of the body God gave me. Please take good care, for those who love you, and for Him who loved you most of all.

1 comment:

  1. Erin, yet another tender, moving, inspirational writing. Just love that photo of you and Uncle Bill. Aunt Marvel had to be the photographer in this case. Keep on writing and digging into the albums for those incredibly wonderful photos.