Hi, My name is Aaron.
I saw an update on Heart Support, saying “Tell Us YOUR Story“.
So, that’s what I’m doing.
I’m telling you my story in hopes that it encourages you, shows you that your not alone, and/or blesses you in another way. So here goes:
I was born in March of 1996 into a Christian home, with a Mom and a Dad, and two elder brothers to have my back. We were what anthropologists and sociologists would call a “Nuclear” family–Dad goes to work in the morning, comes home for dinner, and mom stays at home with the kids if they’re too young to go to school. Growing up, me and my two brothers were given tons of solid bible teaching from our household & extended family, and our church family. Life went on, and I happily went on being a care free kid. As far as I knew, nothing wrong could happen.
Well, I was wrong.
When I was 6, my Dad had two seizures, leading up to the diagnosis of a inoperable, incurable brain tumour. Being a six-year old, I didn’t really understand it a whole lot, save that my Dad was apparently sick now. He didn’t look like he was sick, but since Mom and Dad seemed pretty serious, I figured they had good reason to be. So, being the child I was, I got down on my hands and knees and prayed. Every night, every meal. Not always aloud, but always, nonetheless. Dad was given 5-10 years to live with treatment.
Initially, the doctors advised us to watch and wait. Our whole church was praying for us. For 2 and a half years, Dad was able to continue working and life went on.
So, after a while, we went with a biopsy in order to fully diagnose, and because of the tumour’s sudden growth, he was given 6 months to 1 year to live without treatment. We had 3 options; we could wait it out and eat one of those crazy, super-food diets and hope the cancer would die down eventually while praying like crazy (which we did anyways), go for radiation therapy, or try chemotherapy in order to slow down the tumour’s growth. After seeking God and wise counsel for direction, they decided to go without chemo for the time being. Because of the nature of the tumour, being malignant, the doctors couldn’t get the whole tumour with treatment (malignant tumours grow like trees, with roots, so the doctors could only go so far into the brain). That seemed to work for a little. Dad had ups, Dad had downs, but overall the cancer wasn’t gone. So, we agreed to radiation therapy. Over the time span it took to go through all of the treatments, Dad went bald (this really bugged me, because it served as a reminder that my Dad had more than just the common cold, and was in need of treatment), but the radiation seemed to be helping. The cancer cells were dying, slowly….but surely. Eventually, even after the radiation was over, the cancer seemed to be shrinking. And eventually, the doctors couldn’t find any actively growing cancer cells. It was good news.
Time continued to pass, and eventually we got some news:
It was back. The cancer had managed to re-grow, and become a serious threat again. So, we went for the Chemo. As I watched Dad go though it, it ripped me apart inside. I could tell that it was miserable. But through it all, Dad remained brave, and always thankful. Me, Mom and my brothers had to keep ourselves as germ-free as some biology lab, if that makes sense. Otherwise, Dad could catch the flu, or the cold, and it would be even worse. Eventually, my parents got the opportunity to go to Israel, to see the land that Jesus walked. The Doctor cleared them for the trip, and after a lot of prayer and consideration, they went. I know my Dad was pretty happy to be able to go there, since it was something he’d wanted to do for a long, long time. But when they were over there, Dad got worse. Way worse than he’d ever been. My parents had to skip out on some of the sight-seeing opportunities, since my Dad was in no shape to be walking all over the Holy Land at the pace the group was heading.
I remember the day they came home. The son of one of my Dad’s friends from church is a paramedic, and so he was able to get an ambulance to pick them up from the airport so Dad could sleep on the way home. When he got home though, I could tell that he was in pretty bad shape. For the next few weeks my Dad didn’t leave his room often, except to get cleaned up or go to the bathroom. We had a hospital bed put in my parents room, and he laid there for the next few weeks. He wasn’t at the dinner table, He didn’t go anywhere, and he didn’t do anything. He couldn’t. He could barely talk some days, and most days he couldn’t even chew, much less lift a cup on his own. Seeing him so weak was horrible. I was 12 by then, and seeing my once active, cyclist, Soccer-loving father bedridden like that was torture. Days moved slowly. Eventually Mom couldn’t do it all on her own, so we had Personal Support Workers coming in to do night shifts so Mom could sleep. I remember the first night I saw one. I woke up in the middle of the night, around three, to go to the bathroom. I saw a night-light on in my parents room(something that was very unusual), so I poked my head in. To my surprise, the woman sitting on the bed wasn’t my mom, but some lady in those clothes that medical personnel wear in a hospital. In a calm voice she told me what she was doing, and that Mom was sleeping downstairs. When I went back to bed, I was more scared than ever. Now Dad needed people to come into my house to take care of him? It took a few hours to fall asleep again that night, as I was too busy crying my eyes out and feeling terrified to think about sleeping.
The routine continued on, and on December 11, 2008 I woke up, and something told me that that day would be the last. I told mom how I felt, and told her that I would go to school, and head home by recess. She was O.K. with that. I told a few of my close friends what was going on, and they understood. At recess, I ran as hard as I can remember running home. I got home, and shortly after, my brother “R” got home. We sat in the bedroom for a while, and eventually mom told us to go do something as brothers, so we went downstairs. A few hours later, around lunchtime, a PSW came down and told us to go upstairs, our father was dying. So we went up. In his last few minutes, me, my Mom, and my brother “R” begged him, and because we wanted my eldest brother to be there with us too, kept encouraging him to take another breath. “Come on, Dad. One more. One more.” And he did give us one more. And another, and another. But eventually, he stopped. And then he was gone. The man who had been raising me for the past 12 years was gone. My Mom was the first to speak. “He’s home.” She said. “He’s home.” Me and my brother repeated the phrase also. Then “R” began to sing. He sang the chorus of Your Grace Is Enough by Chris Tomlin. Me and Mom joined. We repeated the chorus a few times, and stopped. Mom had asked some friends to pick my eldest brother, “J” up from school. She had called when me and “R” went upstairs, but he didn’t make it home in time. We were all in pieces. I was terrified. For the next few days I kept thinking “Who’s gonna raise me? How will I become a man? Who will teach me to become a man? Who’s gonna teach me to be a father?” These questions kept running through my head. Each time, God gave me something. He gave me a Bible verse. The same verse each time: Joshua 1:9, which says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” I heard it, and it was good to know, but my fear would always overtake me.
I became afraid of that fear, and so I began to hide from it by doing anything that could take my mind off of it. I would play video games for hours and hours on end, or read for hours, or watch movies. I fell into pornography, because these things helped me submerge myself into a different world. One where I didn’t have to fear. I became addicted, and with that addiction, depressed. I hid it from my family and I hid it from my friends.
Eventually I felt useless. By the time I was almost a year through High-school, I felt like I was a burden to my family, especially my brothers, since they were now the men of the family, and I would need them more than ever. I didn’t want to have to depend on them, and I didn’t want them to feel burdened by me. I felt that my friends were the kind I would just hang out with at school, or at church, but never outside of those things. I felt like they didn’t really care, and if I was gone all of a sudden, they wouldn’t miss me for very long. So I became suicidal. I was entirely convinced that if I were to go, things would be better for my family, and the people I called my friends.
So I tried.
Twice. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
A third time.
But that third time, that was different. The third time, I had made up my mind entirely. No one was home, and no one would be home for a few hours. I wrote my letter a few times over, and when I was finally content with it, I put it on my pillow. I grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and went upstairs to my bathroom. I got into the tub. My plan was to slit my wrists deep enough that I would bleed out, and if it was taking too long, I’d make more cuts. As I raised the knife, I thought to myself, “This is it. I’m doing my family a favour, and they’ll see that eventually. My ‘friends’ won’t really miss me all that much. Everyone will be O.K. In the long run, nobody will miss weak, little Aaron“.
But as you can tell, I’m writing this right now, so what I had planned, didn’t exactly go the way I planned it.
As soon as I finished my thought, I was interrupted. Not by a knock on the front door, or by a phone call, or by someone coming home earlier than expected. Something else happened. As soon as I finished my thought, I got a reply. It was God speaking. I felt it like you would feel a door jamming on your toe. “Aaron, put the knife away. What you have just said to yourself is not true. I know you’ve lost your father, and I know that you feel unloved right now, and even if that was the case, it wouldn’t matter, because I love you. And when people stop, I won’t. Because I am the perfect father. I love you, and I’ll never leave you. So put the knife away, rip up that letter, and come and live.” I did just that. God saved me that day. I haven’t thought about suicide since. It was a little while more until I began to embrace the faith I claimed to belong to. The summer after Grade 9, while working up at a Christian Camp, I met some friends my age that, like me now wanted to get real with our faith, and so we encouraged each other to do just that, now that we knew others our age that wanted to do the same. With that, I now had a new ambition to follow Christ. That ambition is still blazing today.
The story you have just read doesn’t belong to me. It’s God’s story. I just happened to play a role. It’s God’s story about how he won the battle for my life.
Before I leave you, I want to leave you with some portions of scripture that I find encouraging, and I hope you will too.
All the verses below come from the English Standard Version.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.“”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
God is faithful. He gave me 12 more years with my Dad, and I can never be thankful enough for that time. He came and picked me out of the dark pit of fear and depression and gave me confidence, and showed me that I could have HIM as my Saviour. I hope that my story has encouraged you today. God has a plan. It is beautiful, and it is better than any plan we could come up with ourselves. He doesn’t leave you, and never gives you anything past your ability to cope with, as long as you’re relying on him. Again, I hope my story has helped you in some way or another. God bless you, friends.