After a thirteen-year estrangement, my dad and I reconciled toward the end of 2018. Five months later he was diagnosed with advanced small cell carcinoma, and this past March, just as the Covid tidal wave was slamming into our world, I was with him at his home in Oklahoma when he died.
Within the space of those two sentences lies a story of one of the most miraculous gifts of my life, an experience that showed me what it means to “be devoted to one another in love.” (Romans 12:10) It was a time when every task and effort was in service not just to my dad’s care, but to the clarity that God provided for me the day he was diagnosed. The message was clear and unequivocal: Show up. Say yes. Keep your eyes on God.
I started traveling to Oklahoma to be with my dad nearly every month after that, where I spent my time doing whatever needed to be done. Helping my dad hang pictures and driving him to chemo appointments shifted to managing meetings with hospice nurses, which then gave way to the task of keeping him as comfortable as possible. Some days that was about dabbing his forehead with a tissue when he became feverish. One night it was about driving to Sonic to fulfill his craving for a cold lemon slushie. It didn’t much matter to me where and how I was called to be of service; what mattered was knowing that everywhere I went—Walmart, the post office, and, yes, Sonic—I was not alone. Even as I slept in my dad’s guest bedroom, I knew God was with me.
I started each morning and ended each day on my knees with the Lord’s Prayer, knowing that by being faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12) my focus would stay on Christ’s love for us. It was a time of tremendous focus, profound grief, and spectacular joy. How easily time could have slipped by without my dad and I finding our way back to each other, I’d think, which would then inspire an immediate, wholehearted THANK YOU to God. Thanks to Him, and the love of Jesus Christ, my dad and I were given the greatest gift we could have ever asked for, which was time—to be together, and to love each other. In the end, we overcame everything that had gotten in our way years earlier. In the end, what we had was good. (Romans 12:21)
- What does it look like in your faith community to be devoted to one another in love?
by Christine Davanzo