The Struggle Has Ended

Greg Hewlett passed away on January 17th after nearly eight years of battling colon cancer. While we grieve his loss, we are comforted to know that he is with his Lord.

If you would like to leave your thoughts on Greg, please see this thread.

If you would like to make a charitable donation in Greg's honor, please see this thread.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The night before surgery


sarabeth_sm.jpgMelina_sm.jpgHere we all are... Carl, Jim, Sue, Judy, Anne, Melina, Michael, Sarabeth, me, and Christine. Ten weary travellers enjoying celebrating our week of hotels, restaurants, and MD Anderson hospital. Well, not really "weary" -- we're having a great time. This was taken at dinner the night before surgery. It was terrific Chinese food... or so I hear... I had chicken broth to satisfy my pre-surgery clear liquid diet.

Christine_on_phone_sm.jpgMelina and Sarabeth had come from the park, where there were face painters. I told them not to wash their faces and show up tomorrow decorated. Here's Christine talking on the phone with my sister, Julie, as we drew near to bedtime. My heart is so full of thanksgiving for the love with which I have been surrounded.

The appointment with the surgeon went well on Friday. We discussed what I should expect and some of the details of what he will be doing. He expects to take out some of my diaphragm with the liver. This is because some of the diaphragm may be "stuck" to the tumor. This is not uncommon and does not hurt long term prognosis, just increases the pain somewhat. They are also taking out the gall bladder, which I don't really need anyway. Finally, the Dr. Vauthey's assistant explained to us about the epidural, which I will have for a couple days after the surgery. Christine replied to him with a straight face, "You mean he might have a baby, too!?" At the end of the appintment I sang the Twelve Days of Chemo for Dr. Vauthey and his assistants at the urging of a nurse. He got a real kick out of it.

Right now, I find myself sitting in bed again contemplating the unknown in the coming days. It seems like such an ordinary night, and yet tomorrow will be one of the most important days of my life. No experience prepares one for an occasion like this because it is a once in a lifetime deal. There seems to be no "right" way to approach major surgery. So I'm just riding the wave of time until tomorrow I'll find myself in a place where they'll say, "and now you'll feel a little drowsy." My prayers become simple. Just as I'm not sure what to do, I'm not sure what to say. So I sit with a raw trust in the love of the Father.

Christine has fallen asleep. We report tomorrow at the hopsital tomorrow morning at 5:30am. Its going to be a rough day for everyone with so little sleep. I won't really mind because I'll get to sleep all day.

So much of life consists of looking forward. The life of a Christian, especially, is characterized by an anticipation of the coming of the Great King. As my own future is uncertain, I am drawn towards those objects of hope for which I am more certain. One of these, as I've written in earlier posts, is what the Bible refers to as harvest time - the coming of Christ. This morning's sermon at Christ the King Church was on ththis very topic. The pastor related a passage in Revelation to a tune by Johnny Cash, recorded shortly before his recent death. The pastor, Rev. Leo Schuster, actually played the recording to our (pleasant) surprise. I'll leave you with a portion of those words...

The Man Comes Around

There's a man goin' 'round takin' names.
An' he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won't be treated all the same.
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down.
When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up.
At the terror in each sip and in each sup.
For you partake of that last offered cup,
Or disappear into the potter's ground.
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin'.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are born an' some are dyin'.
It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown.
When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.
Listen to the words long written down,
When the man comes around.


Byron said...

Dear Greg and Christine,
...A raw trust in the LovingKind and holy purposes of the one and only Great King...Indeed!!
I have no idea of preparing for such a surgury either. In my sholder surgury, I remember trying to make a game of the nurses instructions to count backwards from 100. I thought, since I was a young buck that I could make it to 95. I got to 99. Ha!
I remember waking up after the surgury. It was kinda funny -- I could not breathe very well, so, imagine this; here I was giving instructions in slurred speech to my dad about the proper way to hold the Kleenex so that I could blow my nose. I guess you had to be there.... But, its a joke now between me and my dad.
I can't wait to hear what funny stories you'll share about this event. You and Christine and your extended family are in our prayers. The King and Creator of the universe is with you, is holding the surgeons' hands, and His Son is even now praying for your best. God Bless.

Andrew said...

sweet dreams.

John & Debbie Ciavola said...

You've been blessed with wonderful company this week in your devoted family. Our prayers, as always, are with you. Continue your inspiring walk with the King. He is using you and your situation for generations of inspiration for unwavering faith. I have no doubt that He is, and will be, with you throughout this important day.
Amen and Amen.
John & Debbie

Dick said...

Oh God,
Remember your servant, my brother Gregg this morning.
In his time of complete vulnerability,
be his Certainty.
In his time of separation,
be his Companion.
In his time of suffering,
be his Comforter
In his time of weakness,
be his Strength.
In his time of uncertainty
be his Hope.
Protect and preserve him,
and raise him from that cold table
to full health,
and full humor,
and full fiestiness,
and new depths of love and carring.
Grant to him long years
of fulfilling marriage to the love of his life,
of more and deeper friendships,
of strong faith that has been tempered by adversity,
of unselfish service to you,
of our friendship.

Judy Kovacs said...

I hope and pray along with you that the Lord will return soon and remove your turmoil. But as I told my friend Madeline for several months before she died, once you get to heaven, time flies really fast and we will all be reunited. Like Paul, I say it is better to be with the Lord than in the flesh. Greg, and Christine, keep hanging on!!, but you can't lose.
All is gain.

Lynn Scroggin said...

Greg: (and Christine)
I am inspired by your words, attittude, life. I have met you through the words of our interim pastor, Dick Wiggers. I send prayers through the prayer chain at Tualatin Pres. in Oregon. We have prayed for you for months. Isn't it interesting how your experience has touched so many in this "ripple" effect? Is this the way it was in early days before emails, phones, etc? My prayers are with you guys. I will be lifting you up all during this week and sharing your story with my family. Thank you for being open about your experience. You have truly touched many lives. Grace and Peace, Lynn Scroggin