By Dave Eley
On December 22, 2022, the day before the Great Buffalo Blizzard, we agreed with the oncologist to stop Dona’s cancer treatment and enroll her with Hospice. Focus will be on comfort at home. We feel okay about it. She will likely live longer on Hospice than on aggressive treatment.
I’ll provide updates through https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/donaeley
Dona sleeps most of the day but is in no pain. Praise God. Although a bit confused at times and very weak, there is a calm and focus that must only come from the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding….guarding her heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
Medical science and technology have given us 8 great years and, according to Dona, some of her best years. (Seriously, see ‘I Like the New Metastatic Me. ) We are grateful to have been the recipient of a dozen or more cutting edge or proven treatments, (which worked well until wily cancer cells morphed and found a workaround) developed by the best researchers and engineers the world has to offer, and delivered by compassionate surgeons, doctors, technicians, and nurses. But over time treatment has taken a toll. Modern medicine has its limits.
When the best efforts of our medical clinicians are overwhelmed and consumed by disease what is left? For the Christian, it is the hope of the resurrection. What does that look like? Perhaps it is like the discovery of a masterpiece that was hidden when painted over with an inferior work of art. As the later work flakes away due to time and the elements the earlier original is revealed, something beautiful and totally different. Or, perhaps it is as simple as Jesus’ parable of the house built on a rock that leaves the home intact when the winds and rains come. (Matthew 7)
It is that underlying beauty, strength, and solid foundation that is now so evident in my wife. Yesterday, I told Dona, “When my time comes, I hope I can also face my mortality directly, look it square in the face without flinching. But I think I will be frightened.”
She gazed at me for a minute, I was beginning to think she had drifted off, and then she said, “When your time comes God will give you grace and strength. But for now, you need to quit with the chipmunk cheeks.”
She was alluding to two posts she wrote early in her cancer journey. The chipmunk cheek image is from John Piper, who writes:
Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day (Exodus 16:4).
God’s grace is like manna. God gives us “a day’s portion every day.” This is why Jesus taught us to pray for our “daily” bread, not “next week’s” bread.
We need to quit being chipmunks. We don’t need to try and stuff our cheeks with today’s manna, anxiously storing up fuel for the nasty winter we imagine around the corner. God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations, he doesn’t give us grace for our chipmunk approach to life. (Emphasis mine.)
The hardcore truth is that this habitual way of viewing the big scary world can quickly become faith-numbing insanity. “Dona,” I say to myself, “where is God in all this worry about the future? What are you fretting about? Who do you believe is really in charge?”
Me, apparently…….God waits for us to wave our white flags and allow his grace to attend to our present needs and not for those imagined future troubles. And that grace is sufficient to carry us through the day.”
So, as Dona says, I’m going to quit (try to quit) being a chipmunk and train myself through repetition, reminding myself of eternal truths, look for joy each day, and trust tomorrow, both for my life and especially for by wife’s, to the hand of God, who transcends our mortal limitations.
This is mortality, this is eternity.
Thanks for sharing such powerful insights. You are both in my prayers each day! May God envelope you both in His eternal love.
I love her so! The way God has given wisdom and grace to a beautiful, full of life, dying woman. She has come around to knowing Him in ways we shudder going through yet want the as-by-fire results…
This photo says everything about you two. David looking at Dona’s joy; Dona looking sweetly at her newest grand-quiver, Dona’s hand gently touching David, and you both inches apart enjoying this moment of peace.
I cry for your family, David.
Yet, I smile at God for we have all witnessed how He has had her in the palm of His sure hand at every turn these 8 yrs.
May He gently turn her into the Home awaiting her.
Sending love and appreciation for this journey that has been shared with those who know you both. Thank you, Eleys.
I’ve printed this blog posting to share with Drew. So much to ponder and reflect on. We love you dear friends and have such fond memories of days past. Continued prayers and I will always think of chipmunks in a new way every time I see one. What a beautiful picture it gave me of trusting God. Thank you for sharing. Big hugs to you both.
This is so beautiful! I’m in tears and full of gratitude for how generously you have been transparent and shared your heart and life with us! Donna you will be with Jesus soon and I’m a little jealous but so happy for you to be completely whole! Better than we’ve ever known! Your life and presence here will be deeply missed and not soon forgotten! You’ve impacted my life and so many lives with your good humble soul, patience, guidance and light! I thank God for you!! I’m certain your transition will be peaceful and glorious and I will remain in prayer for you and your family!! Thank you Dave for so freely sharing her with all of us! I love you and pray for God’s peace and comfort to hold you and your family tightly! Shalom! Shalom! Shalom!
Thank you Dona & David for sharing this journey with your friends. I remember how much Dona loves music and am thinking of the line from a hymn “beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life”….every time I read Dona’s Blog!
Love & prayers sent daily,
thank you both for sharing. I have utmost respect for how you have walked through this journey. God be with you! Love and prayers. Joyce
Dear Dona and David,
Thank you for sharing the message of Dona’s current situation and the consequential decision you have come to you. We all knew that at some point this decision would need to be made, yet it still comes as sobering news when we receive it.
I love you good friends deeply. I am grateful for the life and experiences – and especially our eternal bond through our brother Jesus – we have had and will always have. Thank you – both of you – for always pointing me to Jesus. It’s difficult (probably impossible) to put into words the many, many, many ways you have deepened my walk with Christ and have made me want to be a more authentic and trusting Jesus follower. I know that in the future – when our Lord’s kingdom is fully realized we will communion in ways that are deep and beautiful and satisfying beyond words.
And David, thank you for the good and wise and honest words you shared in this latest post.
Both Kirstie and I look forward to more opportunities – as the Lord gives them – to share friendship and time with you.
My love and prayers for you continue with you, Doug
David and Dona You both shine like glorious lights in this dark world. Thank you for showing us how to live “in Christ”.
I have lived with bulging chipmunk cheeks. It is a life long struggle to leave the bread on the ground and take only what is needed and given to me for today. Anxiety and worry dominates to much of my life and I’ve known this forever. Dona’s Blog has and continues to help me through her honest reflections. I don’t know that I will ever arrive completely free of these afflictions on earth, but I can see in Dona’s sharing and growing it is possible to find a deeper trust, a relaxation in fears as she lives more freely in Jesus. Dona , you have become a great encourager of faith even as you walk through and face your own struggles. It is beautiful that God uses us in whatever state we are in when we look to Him. Thank you David for your reflections and faith.