As I approached him riding my bike on the Springwater trail, I almost did not recognize him. He had the same beard and walk but something did not look right. Steve and his wife were walking their beautiful blue eyed Akida and he smiled as I got within 10 feet and said Hi. Steve and I had rode bikes together dozens of times the last 4 years as we made fast friends and brothers to share our struggles with. He had come thru a dark time in his life where he chased many dreams and desires that did not include his family or wife. His son challenged him a couple of years ago to face up to his deceitful life and he did that in front of 1,000’s of people at church one weekend. Boy was that a powerful testimony!
He retired from KATU and started working at a bike store and then the folks at Keen decided to take a chance on an older employee for their company GARAGE store in downtown Portland. He loved working there but almost become full time, so our riding had dropped off to almost nothing the past 9 months. Our last ride in late March, early April he told me about his one kidney going bad and struggling to make a decision to have it taken out. That decision was confirmed the day I met them on the trail as he had already lost over 25 lbs. and was getting weaker by the day.
Carol called days later as Steve had taken a real dip, was dehydrated, needed fluids badly so she had taken him into the emergency room. There the doctors discovered his legs were swollen and full of blood clots, so they tested further with an MRI and CAT scan. To all of our dismay, they found Cancer on his pelvis but did not know where it had come from. He was put on blood thinners and the kidney surgery was postponed has they continued to search for the source of the cancer. He went home but soon returned to the hospital as he could not eat and vomited constantly.
Yesterday, they discovered the source of the cancer was a major blockage in his stomach that caused the nausea and it was already at stage 4 with little prognosis for treatment. He now rests in a hospital bed heavily sedated, surrounded by his wife, kids and 7 grandchildren waiting for God to take him home. I am not able to visit as the doctors have restricted it to close family.
I reflected this morning in my frustration, able to do nothing about the situation, that this is what our chaplains deal with on a daily basis with their agency staff. Police and Fireman see, hear and treat the community, often at it’s lowest common denominator. Hurting, loss of life or property, criminal or victim, it does matter. Often these people are at the end of their collective rope. Then along comes a soothing voice or reason, offering peace and solace and many times the hope of a better life in Jesus Christ. What a special skill this takes and Public safety Chaplaincy is lucky to have 10 of these wonderful caring men on our team, serving their respective agencies everyday.
I do not know if I will get to see Steve again this side of Heaven. But if I do, I will try to impart the same love and care that our guys do and maybe, just maybe, he will sleep a little better that night knowing that another person is praying for him and caring for his family.