The blinds are down, but sun is still trying to peek into the room at the doctor’s office. Dad is sitting in a wheelchair and Mom has chosen to sit on the examination table. My brother sits next to my dad in a chair, and I am across from him. My sister is in a seat to the side between my mom and me. We are making small talk as we wait for the doctor to come in. The oncologist. The one who will tell us more details about my dad’s diagnosis. We are trying to keep it light and we are doing what our family excels in: making jokes and harmless sarcasm. We are laughing and nervous. And then, as if we all suddenly come to grips with what we are there for, it gets quiet. I look over at my dad and I can tell he is holding back tears. I can almost see the thoughts going on in his mind.

He doesn’t want to miss time with us. He wants to stay here, on this earth, with his family. He isn’t ready to go. He loves to hear us laughing, even when he doesn’t understand what the joke is. He loves that our family is close, and that we genuinely love each other and are truly STANDING together. I can see it as the tears stream down his face. We make eye contact and my tears start streaming too.

All I know to do, when there are no words to say, is to hold each other and pray. So I stand up, grab my brother’s hand and my sister’s hand. We all hold hands. We are one unified circle. Not any one of us has to hold all of it alone, because we are all holding all of it, together. My dad starts his prayer with, “Thank you, Lord, for the love in our family” and my heart is alive. Even in the worst times, we can find a place for thanks. We keep praying as the doctor walks in and I can tell he is a bit surprised. He turns and lets us finish having our time together with the Lord.

I don’t know if the doctor believes in Jesus or God or miracles, but he saw the faith of a family that was growing stronger even in that minute. In his office he saw Love. And now, just like that, he is a part of our “team” and so our prayers now extend to him and his family as well. He becomes a part of the family that is “holding” this burden with us. And, as I sit there and listen to him talk through my dad’s information, the Lord floods my mind with all of the people that are now a part of our “family” and are holding this with us…or even in some cases…holding us.

There is the nurse who comes to the house three times a week and makes my parents feel cared for while also making them laugh. There are the therapists providing each of my parents the therapies they need to make their minds and bodies strong. There are the neighbors that walk around the fence to check in, making sure my parents are okay. There are faithful friends texting me, daily, their specific prayers for everyone. They tell me how God is revealing things to them about my family and our journey. There are my friends here in Illinois that have been bringing meals and stopping over or calling to pray for my family. There are friends of ours creating spreadsheets, and calendars, and organizing all of the information so that my parents know what is going on and us kids know there is order to all that feels like chaos. There are friends of my parents stopping by, bringing meals, or sending prayers through email. There are the doctor’s offices opening extra appointments and rearranging schedules because they know we are in need. There are friends that are offering my family a place to stay so that my husband and kids can be near me while I am caring for my parents.

There are so many more people in our “family.” This is not about us, but about God and about His people uniting and holding the burden together. Earlier this year, I had the idea to start a non profit around this concept of holding burdens together. And now, all of the sudden, I realize that God had other ideas for the concept. As one person, or one family, we often think we have to “hold it together” in the sense of handling it all on our own. But I know, more now than ever, that God wants us to live in the transparency of a glass house so that all can see and all can play a role. All can offer love in any way they would like. God will send all the people and we will all “hold it…together.”

So as we left the oncologist appointment, it was not fear or uncertainty that set in. It was Love. For my dad, for each other, and for all that we have already been blessed with on this journey.