What a year 2015 has been! I think it rivals in ickiness what 2012 held in awesomeness. It has challenged me in pretty much every area of my life. Part of me wants to share all about it, but another part is hesitant. I tend to be a pretty private person anyway, but I never know what kind of reaction to expect when I open up a vein a bleed a little bit publicly, whether it be via a book or a confession. It's important that you know the whys behind my decisions, though, so I'm going to tell you about my year.
It began with my mother's diagnosis of breast cancer at the beginning of January. It progressed to a scare of my own at the end of the month (turns out it was a lymph node- phew!) and then ended with her having surgery. In March, she started chemo. In June, they had to discontinue one of her drugs because of the severity of the side effects she was having. She's still taking the other, though, and won't be completely finished with chemo until March of 2016. That brings us up to now.
My father has just been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. I feel like this awful C-word has come into my life, into the life of my loved ones, like a wolf into the hen house, eating up everything good. I think I've prayed more this year than maybe at any other time in my life. But the fact that i can pray at all reminds me that not ALL good things are gone. I've always got God. I have a close relationship with Him anyway, but this year He has taken on a whole new role in my life. My faith has been tested at every turn, it seems. I've prayed for miracles. More times than I can count, I've prayed for miracles. And it's not that God didn't answer my prayers; it's just that the answer was "no". And sometimes that happens. Sometimes the answer is "no". Things could've been much worse for Mom, though, so maybe that was a miracle in and of itself. And maybe there's still a miracle for Dad somewhere in the future. I haven't stopped praying for one, nor will I. Why? Because what I KNOW is that, just because my family doesn't get a miracle in this instance doesn't mean that God's not doing them anymore. I've seen them before. I know they can happen. But one of the hardest parts of life is learning that sometimes the best thing for us is the very hardest thing in the world. If that happens, and usually it will at least once in a lifetime, all we can do is pray for the strength to go through it with grace. So that's what I'm doing. I'm trying to handle this with grace. And I'm still praying. Praying for all I'm worth.
What I'm also doing is spending as much time with my family as I can. I want to be there with them for the hard parts as well as the fun stuff, which I'm hoping the holidays can still be. I really want to have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas for them. I'm praying for that, too. That's what brings me to write this post.
I have to address work.
I'll be late in delivering Handful of Tears, the book to follow Pocketful of Sand. At this point, I'm not even going to hint at a date because I just don't know what to expect. Also, I've decided to shelve Madly. A very wise and successful writing friend told me at a retreat in September that sometimes we have to do what's best rather than what our readers want. This is what's best for me. This is what's best for Madly. I know this won't be a popular decision, but trust me, you do NOT want me to force myself to write it. I'd rather leave Madly and Jackson alone right now than to risk writing something subpar for them. I hope you understand. And to one particular reader, you know who you are, who recently told me to "man up, Leighton" when I bared my soul a little bit on here, I can only hope that you never, ever, ever, ever have to watch both of your parents struggle with cancer at the same time. Or AT ALL. But if you do, I guarantee you that hearing "man up" will be at the top of the list of things you really don't appreciate.
As for travel, I want you signing organizers to know that I'm so, so grateful for being invited to your events! However, I won't be doing any travel for the foreseeable future. Now you know why. I hope that things will be brighter next year and I can get back in the saddle in 2017:)
With all this being said, I want to thank y'all for your unwavering support and understanding. I never want to come across as negative or as a whiner or complainer. These are simply facts. Irrefutable, irreversible facts. No matter how much I wish that weren't the case, it is. I'm dealing with this the best that I can, but it's time for me to put family first and that's what I'm going to do. If I don't respond to a message in a timely manner, I apologize in advance. I know it's going to happen. Just know that it's not intentional. Y'all have changed my life and I'm grateful for every one of you who reads my work and who takes the time to message me or tag me on social media. I appreciate you every single day!
Also, I want to thank everyone who has kept my family in their prayers. I can only hope that your friends rally around you in this very same way when you need them the most. It makes a world of difference!
And lastly, y'all, BE HEALTHY! Take care of your body. Eat good food. Get some exercise. Laugh. Love. Live every single day like the world might end tomorrow. It may or may not end, but it sure might feel like it. So enjoy the perfect days. Give thanks. Be kind. Keep on keepin' on.