Don’t cross a bridge before you get to it. Seems like I have heard that statement all my life. It began to have meaning for me when Mother’s cancer was diagnosed. However, when Daddy’s cancer was diagnosed, I began to understand ‘not crossing bridges’ on at least two different levels.
1. I remember a conversation that Darla and I had soon after Mother was diagnosed. I can’t remember which of us brought up the subject of Hospice, but we quickly dropped it because we were not ready emotionally to deal with the final stages of her illness.
When Daddy was in the hospital, one of the doctors suggested that I go up to the Hospice unit and check it out. It was located on the top floor. I knew it was there, but had decided not to visit until I was ready. However, because of the doctor’s urging, I got on the elevator and did as he requested. The minute I stepped off the elevator I knew I had done the wrong thing. Oh, it was beautiful. Everthing was very nice. A hospice nurse showed me around. The rooms were large with the hospital bed on one side of the room and a seating area for the family on the other. The furniture was comfortable. There was beautiful soft music playing. There were flowers and wonderful paintings. I hated it. I hated it all. I hated the painting, the music, the flowers, the furniture. Everything. I could hardly wait to get out of there and I didn’t want to go back.
I had to think for a couple of days to realize why I so hated that place. It wasn’t that I really despised everything I saw there. It was the idea of hospice that I hated. It represented death and at that time I could not, and would not dwell on death.
You see, I was not ready to ‘cross the hospice bridge’ yet. When it became evident that Daddy was ready to be moved to the Hospice floor, I was ready for it and so were my sisters. Instead of it being a hated place, it became a place of comfort for all of us. Everything that I hated before became wonderful. Our needs were totally met and we were, all things taken into account, at peace.
Many times we allow ourselves to push or be pushed forward into things before we are ready for them. We always knew the ‘Hospice bridge’ was there, and we knew one day we would face it. However, we did not dwell on it, focus on it, or make decisions about it until the time was right. We put it in one corner of our minds and kept it there until the time was right. By doing this we were able to dwell on, focus on, and make decisions about things that were more immediate.
2. When Daddy’s esophageal cancer was diagnosed, he was told that his esophagus might close up and he would be unable to eat. He was also told that he might need to make a decision about whether or not he wanted a feeding tube should the closure occur. We told Daddy that he did not have to worry and fret about that decision. He did not have to ‘cross that bridge’ until he came to it. As it turned out he never had to make that decision. His esophagus never closed up. That was an answer to prayer. Daddy loved to eat.
T here were things that we just didn’t decide ahead of time. There is a fine line here between being unprepared and not making decisions before they are necessary. What we did here was not procrastination, we were well aware of all the things that were ahead of us. We just did not make final decisions about anything before the time was right. We ‘didn’t cross bridges before we got to them’.
Sometimes there is information that you may have at the last minute that you didn’t have earlier. Sometimes circumstances change or feelings change. Whatever. If you feel unsure and you can wait about a decision, then wait. God has answers for our questions. He just doesn’t always share them with us until the last minute.