Just about the time you think you might be getting a handle on your own life…..BAM! The totally unexpected slaps you in the face. Last week we found out that my brother’s husband, Jesse, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. And unfortunately it’s already spread to his liver. The prognosis is very discouraging.

I wrote previously that they had just moved to NC in February. Jesse has not felt well pretty much since they arrived, but was chalking it up to other health issues aggravated by the stress of the move. They established with a doctor fairly quickly but she soon exhausted her thoughts on his condition, leading to the next level of tests, leading to where we are now. It’s is heartbreaking in so many ways, not the least of which is their 9 year old son, Sebastian.

They decided to adopt fairly late in life (both are now in their 50’s). Their son has added countless blessings to our family: a grandson my parents weren’t expecting, a nephew for me, and a cousin ( well, technically a first cousin once removed) for my at-the-time future grandsons. We use terms like cousin and uncle fairly loosely given our rather crooked family tree, and I treat him more like one of the grandboys. Since they moved here we are a crowd of family with a less than traditional definition.

Raymond and Jesse with Sebastian at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC

Jesse has been the stay-at-home parent, though he did work part-time when they lived in Texas. He made the lunches, provided the transportation to and from school and activities, and struggled through the homework. And it’s definitely been a struggle. Sebastian’s birth parents were drug addicts, which means their child must suffer for their misdeeds. He struggles with learning issues and behavioral concerns, requiring many, many extra hours of guidance and supervision beyond the norm. It’s been a daunting task.

Of course, our family has always been grateful that he will not be raised in a drug compromised environment where he would have never received the help he needs. His two daddies love him deeply and unconditionally, and have worked with his schools to make sure he is getting everything possible to reach his potential. As his extended family we are still learning how to manage his spontaneous curiosity and frustration with things that are difficult for him. Now we must step up. We must fill the gap while his parents fight the difficult battle that lies ahead. We must find a way to be sure this little boy isn’t completely overwhelmed by our sadness. We must lovingly shepherd him through what may be his biggest challenge yet.

This is a family crisis, but we are a family of faith. I believe that we will be held carefully in the hands of God as we make this journey with Raymond, Jesse, and Sebastian. That’s not to say it won’t be overwhelming. As humans it is our nature to let the BAM send us reeling. And right now I’m allowing myself a little pity party, but next I’ll do what I do best…. make a list of things I can do, cook some food, organize the family to face this terrible challenge. And I’ll love fiercely on a sweet, complicated, innocent little boy.

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