It was a hot day in summer in rural Mississippi. It's almost always hot in summer in rural Mississippi. We had come down from our home in Wisconsin to visit my Aunt Alma, my mom's next oldest sister. Aunt Alma was dying of lung cancer.
It seemed completely unfair. Aunt Alma didn't have any of those bad habits that caused cancer! And she was relatively young, just in her 60s. How could this be? Didn't lung cancer happen to just smokers? No. Anyone can get cancer, without having a reason. Aunt Alma was sick because illness just happens to people. Rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Aunt Alma knew Jesus. She had gone to church since she was a little kid, but that's not why she knew Jesus. She and God were friends because she had made a commitment to love God and obey him. I knew that she and God were close and that her faith was genuine. She didn't need a cure for her lung cancer; she knew that God was by her side even during her illness.
She was near the end of her life when we visited. She and Uncle Hugh B. lived out in the country near Smithdale. They had her hospital bed in the great room where she could enjoy the sun and where there was lots of room. My mom was staying with them to use her nursing expertise to make sure that her sister was well cared-for. Indeed, Aunt Alma looked as comfortable as she could be. Her hair was just some fuzz covering her skull, having not grown back from her last round of chemotherapy. She had tubing delivering oxygen in her nose.
And she was smiling. Aunt Alma always smiled. Lydia and Chris were young, maybe six and three years old. Lydia remembered Aunt Alma and went easily to the bed to hug and kiss our aunt. Christopher pulled back at first but was eventually won over by Aunt Alma's sweet smile and voice. We spent about an hour with her, until she was tired out.
Aunt Alma died a couple of weeks later, with my mom at her side. She was as comfortable as she could be. And she was as ready as she could be. The cancer that started in her lungs spread throughout her body and eventually took over all of her systems. The best that we could hope for was a peaceful death, and her sister, my mom, made sure that she had that.
Today, I learned that Rush Limbaugh also has advanced lung cancer. This is not a diagnosis I would wish on anyone. I'm not a fan of Rush. He has contributed to a toxic political environment in this country. Nonetheless, he is loved by God. And God has called me to love him, too, because he is my neighbor.
Lung cancer is an awful disease. Rush has a very low chance for long-term survival, but it's not zero. We need to pray that he is cured. And if he is not cured, that he is comfortable and at peace with his family in these difficult days.
I can look at my Aunt Alma's family support and say that if Mr. Limbaugh is cared for half as well, he will be well loved.