Monday, August 11, 2014

Joy and Hope

Well, this has been a challenging week and a wonderful week.  Life is that way sometimes.

John and Callie exiting the temple
Let me start with some good news.  This was the week my son John Eric Vogel married his sweetheart Callie Leigh Stettler in the Brigham City Temple.   This occupied most of the day on Friday.  I was concerned about my strength and ability to be a part of the events without becoming too tired but I was blessed.  One of my sweet nurses agreed to come early to the clinic to give me fluids and steroids so that I could feel better.  She met us there at 7:00 am,  We decided to drive our motorhome to Brigham City so that I could rest along the way.  My wonderful son Seth drove the whole way while I slept in the back.  It was like magic.  I climbed in the motorhome, fell asleep and when I woke up we were there.  Now I know why my kids like traveling like that so much.

My family, how blessed I am
The temple was just as you would expect, amazing.  We had a few minutes to wait while the bride and groom were coming.  I sat and looked at my sweetheart JoLynne across the room.  Thirty one years ago we knelt in a similar room at an altar of God and made covenants with each other and with God.  Where did the years go?  It seems like yesterday that the sealer stood and pronounced those words, "For time and for all eternity" over JoLynne and myself.  I felt like I was being transported through time.  I looked to my side at our older children.  I felt like my happiness was too great to contain.  The marriage ceremony was beautiful, simple and sacred.

Very creative car decorations.  Talk about green vehicle
Well, afterwards, a luncheon with family and friends and then a beautiful reception planned by Callie and her family.  I was tired and had to sit down at times but felt like the Lord gave me enough strength to get through.  I slept the whole way home again while Seth drove.  My cute little daughter Elizabeth, now 13 years old, came back and snuggled up by me while I slept.   They grow up too quickly.  I am grateful my daughter was still willing to snuggle up to her dad.

The next day I was pretty tired.  There was a lot to prepare here at our home for the open house.  Our dear friend and neighbor told us very firmly, I don't even want to see you out there.  She arranged for all the neighbors to come and clean up the yard and set everything up.  It was like an army descended on our home.  We are so blessed with good neighbors.

The open house was great.  I saw people who are so dear to me.  I am a pretty tearful guy these days and this was a tearful night for me.  A young man who I loved as if he was my own son come by with his family.  What a joy to see him with his children.  A dear former stake president who has prayed his heart out in my behalf.  So many dear friends.  You know, you can go through life collecting things, and we all do, and in the end they mean nothing for the most part.  But, the relationships we develop along the journey, those really mean something.  In my present situation that seems so clear to me.

Well, John and Callie got off on their honeymoon.  They were nice enough to text us when they arrived at their destinations which I appreciated.  What a wonderful adventure lies ahead for those two.  I can't even imagine.  I hope they are as happy as JoLynne and I have been.  That is saying something.

I wanted to be holy, just not this way
Well, regarding my health, it has been also good and bad.  I began chemotherapy about a week ago Thursday.  Ahh, chemo, such a joy.  Imagine a ballon.  Now imagine all the air is let out.   That is about how you feel.  No energy, no appetite, nausea, mouth sores, etc.  Oh well, it is a process to a desired end.  I had been having significant amounts of pain.  Even though I was taking some pretty heavy duty pain meds the pain still was effecting me.  I would wake up in the night just drenched in sweat as if someone had dumped a can of water over me.  Finally Tuesday morning, I got out of the shower and noticed that I was dripping from my face.  My face had been quite swollen.  Apparently the pressure built enough that finally the skin burst.  It wasn't pretty but my pain was almost completely resolved.  Later another small area burst and I saw further improvement.  I am now taking almost no pain meds and am pretty comfortable.  I have quite the wound on the side of my face but we will hopefully get into wound care tomorrow and have them help us to address that.  Saturday my son in law, a nurse practitioner, pulled out a flashlight and looked into the hole in my cheek.  Apparently you can see the bone and the titanium plates that were screwed in during surgery.  So, we will be very happy to have wound care involved in helping me to heal this wound.

In the meantime, I am working a little, not as much as I would like but as much as my energy allows.  I have a wonderful associate, Mike Merkley, really a gift from heaven who is helping me to take care of my patients.  JoLynne and I have moments of doubt and fear.  We don't know exactly where our path will lead.  We both still believe that God is going to work a miracle and that I will be healed.  We have this vision of us sitting on our front porch in a double wide rocker, watching our grandchildren play on the lawn.  We talk about that a lot when we get discouraged.

Our beautiful granddaughter
Today, my doubts seem less.  I sometimes wonder if it is the prayers of others that brings me that peace.   I do believe in the power of others faith.  I love and appreciate so many of you who have prayed for me through this whole long journey.  My nephew's son the other day came up to me and said, "Uncle Eric, we have been praying for you a long time.  Why are you taking so long to get better?"  Well, I don't know the answer to that question but I am grateful for the prayers.

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