It was two years ago today, that my husband lost his wonderful, loving, father to cancer. John was 26 years old. It was an absolute whirlwind of a ride. John's father, Mike, was taken to the hospital on a Monday evening after having some strange symptoms over the weekend. To our surprise, he was diagnosed with liver cancer on Tuesday evening and on Thursday we said our last goodbyes. It was something we could barely wrap our minds around. Mike had been picking up his grandson from school just the week before...we couldn't understand how this could be happening...
I wrote this note and posted it on Facebook in order to try to come to grips with the scenario that just played out in front of my eyes. I wanted so badly to wake up, for it to be a dream. To be able to say something that could heal my husband's broken heart.. It still doesn't seem real and every time I tell someone the story they tell me they have chills. We have a lot of joy, and are very blessed, but we have not escaped tragedy by any means. We don't expect to. I like to look back on it each year, just to remember where our family has come from. And to remember Mike.
I was pregnant with Sawyer at the time and although Sawyer never got to meet his grandpa Mike, we gave Sawyer his middle name, Michael, in his honor.
I miss him so incredibly much, but I know there will be a time where I will feel his big bear hug again.. and hear his voice... and I will rejoice seeing him without pain in a place where there will be no more tears.
Until then, we must remember how fragile life is, how little control we have, and never take a moment of our time here for granted.
Here is the note I wrote that evening...
♥ ♥ ♥
As I sit here and try to process the events that just took place in a few short days it is still absolutely mind boggling. A good friend put it so well that a mere 72 hours ago my father-in-law, my daughter's grandpa, and my amazing husband's daddy was diagnosed with metastasized liver cancer and tonight he is with our Lord and Savior in heaven. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions. Although I'm not a blogger of any sort, I felt compelled to write in order to come to grips with everything in my own way...or at least try to sort things out in my own mind so here goes..
Today we were supposed to do a biopsy of the tumor(s) in his liver in order to find the original cancer site in hopes of treatment, but a very different diagnosis was given...that he only had 24-48 hours left with us. Not only was Mike's liver failing, but the cancer had now spread to his kidneys and the calcium levels in his blood were still off the charts. A multiple organ failure was taking place and the doctors knew at this time that we had caught this cancer far too late...it was so aggressive that there was nothing we could do at this point and even attempting to do the biopsy would have been a treacherous process for Mike's body to go through and even finding the original site at this point would have been a futile effort.
Mike went into an unconscious state last night and never regained consciousness. In a way it was a hidden blessing, he never even had to know his hours were limited.
All day, John's mother Terry and John's brothers surrounded Mike and spoke to him. It was a very difficult sight to see, especially where only one week ago John's mother (Terry) lost her very own dad, Don Tucker. Never in my worst nightmare could I imagine losing my father and my husband within a week of each other... but Terry was leaning on the Lord with all her heart, as we all were, and the Lord says He will never give us more than we can handle, so if that tells you anything about Terry's strength and her amazing faith I don't know what does.
I just want to personally thank each and every one of you that prayed for our family today. I want you all to know that we felt it. In a time of utter darkness, shock and confusion the family was able to find peace and not feel torn with anger and bitterness at our loss. I'm not saying it was a day without sadness and mourning, because the Lord knows how many tears were shed and many more to come, but there was an underlying peace that no one could deny.
Looking at the outpouring of love on a website that I usually use to talk about mindless matters, John and I couldn't help but be brought to our knees. We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful network of family and friends... people we hardly talk to or haven't seen in forever and those of you that are in our lives regularly all came together for us and we couldn't be more thankful. Offers for babysitting, meals, and even rides to pick up family from the airport were streaming in and I can honestly say the family was touched more than you can even imagine. Reading the posts of prayers and encouragement meant the world to us today and John was even able to read your posts to his brothers and mom as words of encouragement. (Gotta love iphones right?) All of your responses, phone calls and texts throughout the last few days really kept us going... and we will never forget it. The Lord had his arms around us and you all were a little part of that.
For those of you that didn't know him, Mike Hawthorne was a man you would never forget if you met him. His warm presence and huge smile would greet you and if you tried to shake his hand... well you wouldn't get very far because he would be hugging you instead. He was always full of compliments and probably one of the most genuine people I have ever met. A genuine giver to the core. He would do anything for his family and even just talking to him on the phone he would begin by saying, "It's so great to hear your voice!" Even on Wednesday before Mike slipped into his unconscious state he was able to speak to John on the phone and of course just like Mike would, he was whispering, "How are you my son?" It was always about everyone else... even in his final hours.
I remember first working at Hawthorne Tire right before Mike retired and he taught me everything there was to know about doing the books, paying the bills, and even taught me how to look up a tire size or two! I had never seen someone in business like him. The customers were drawn to him...almost like captivated by his teddy bear presence. He would never end a phone call without personally thanking the customer for their business. I had never seen anything like it. When he told me he had customers that had been coming there for several decades I was beginning to understand why.
I feel so honored to be part of the Hawthorne family..and the Hawthorne family business... and honored to have known Mike for the past 4 years. I feel honored to have the friends and family I do and honored to be resting at peace knowing that the Lord is carrying us through this difficult time.
I know many of you have asked if you could help our family, and honestly, this is very new to me and John so I don't even know what the next few days or weeks will bring. We don't really know what to ask for other than continued prayers for strength as the family deals with the aftermath of such a tragedy. The holidays are going to be harder this year and for many years I'm sure.
If any of you would like to post a memory of Mike, I know it would mean the world to John and the family knowing how his father touched other people's lives.
Thank you again for all your love & support...