I had a couple things I wanted to post today. But they were backburnered by something my dad sent me. It was a story about a young man who died last week. Some of his writings were posted in an email from Baylor University where he got his Masters in Divinity. He also played on the football team and encouraged a lot of people along the way. He has kept on encouraging people … even when a sickness that he had beaten in his late teens came back with a vengeance. So I went on his website, which I encourage you to do too – because some things in life put perspective on steroids. Clearly, facing death is one of those. Here’s a little something he shared after an 8-hour operation on his brain. One where he had to be awake the entire time. And, though in considerable discomfort, he sank into even that situation to learn more about life so he could encourage others.
I didn’t know Andrew. I guess my dad did. Many of you might. But I look forward to meeting him someday and to thanking him for his beautiful testimony. So, thanks Andrew … and thanks for walking the road with me.
Just before they put me into surgery, they told me that I had 12 tumors and not just the 3 or 4 that I thought I had. I had a golf ball sized tumor that should be keeping me from walking, but I was walking and gave a sermon just days earlier. I had no idea that my brain was riddled with tumors and the news shocked me.
My family cried and my dad talked about enjoying the days we had left together. It was in this state of mind that I entered 8 hours of holding my body still, suspend by nails in my skull. Needless to say there isn’t a lot to do but think, pray, and meditate. Luckily mediation has always been one of my “things,” but thinking after news like that is hard.
They weren’t prepared to deal with my length of surgery in outpatient that day and the doctor was breaking protocol to give me the surgery so I didn’t get much pain medicine. I got 1 mg of morphine and as a comparison I take about 8 mg a day just to get through a normal day. The pain at the end was bad, I got sick, and I was locked into a tube when it happened.
I am not sure all that I learned that day. It was more than I will write about here and more than I have been able to process, but I want to share one small thing. I went through that day for one reason. I went through it, although I didn’t have to, because it gave me the best shot at more time with people, especially people that I love.
Our life is about the people in it! We forget about how important our relationships are because life is so busy and distracting. Don’t let the urgency of the present pull you from the promise of intentional relationships! The greatness of your soul will be reflected in the lives of the people you love.
What is great is that everyone is good at loving, or can be! You don’t have to have a special gift or develop a special talent. Love is built into the simplest of us and sometimes the simplest among us love the best. Love takes time and intentionality, but it meets you where you are.
After eight hours of nails in my head and I would say, “Let yourself be locked in,” but not without purpose. Lock yourself into the hard parts of this life for love! The best thing about Christianity is that if you have messed up with someone, you can ask for forgiveness. Not everyone will grant you forgiveness, but God will, and most people will if you are honest and open.
It is worth it. Life is worth the hard parts because it is filled with people worth loving. You are worth loving and there is someone in your life who will see their soul grow because they love you. The growth of a soul because they are your friend! I say it is worth the nails even if it only extends my life minutes to love God and his people a little longer, a little better, and a little more intentionally.
Andrew Heard, 30, died on Friday, July 26, after a courageous 10 ½-month battle with stage-4 cancer. Please visit his website The Thoughts of Andrew B Heard and his wife’s Baily Heard. And keep Andrew’s family in your prayers, especially Baily, his parents and his daughter Ellie, as they navigate new challenging waters. Andrew wrote more about his contemplations on this journey in a book he recently published: A Gray Faith