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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Monarch Books (February 10, 2009)
Brian Schrauger works as a research and marketing consultant. He and his wife, Debbie, live near Nashville with their sons, Christopher and Jonathan.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $11.69
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (February 10, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Almost always, especially early on, I told each of my three sons, “I can tell. Someday you are going to be an awesome dad.”
Then, almost every night after hugs and kisses, I turned off the lights and said, “Good night! I love you! See you in the morning.”
Each repeated back the words exactly as I said them. Except for Taylor, who with dyslexic echo said, “See you in the morning! Good night! I love you!”
Curious twist, I thought.
All throughout their younger years there was a quiet voice inside my mind, my heart, whispering but clear, Be sure to say this every night. Because it is a promise from both of us. No matter what life brings, you and your sons will always and forever see each other in the morning.
When I heard the voice, I shuddered, then quenched it with the thought, This is nothing more than what all parents fear. Of course the worst is possible. But we are careful. The worst is far from likely. Stuff like that only happens to people who are not careful or the unlucky few. And after all, worst-case odds are very, very slim.
And so my mind, confident in the odds, told the worry in my heart to just shut up.
Chapter One: Hard News (Nashville, Thursday, June 3, 1999)
Hi. This is Brian, Taylor’s dad. I’m using Taylor’s e-mail because his address book is more up-to-date than mine. After Taylor finished chemotherapy last February, he was given a battery of tests, including an MRI and CT Scan. Since then he’s had monthly x-rays of his chest. Two days ago, he was given a second round of scans. Yesterday, at about three in the afternoon, one of Taylor’s doctors called. He told us that new scans show four nodules on the left lung and another on the right. The cancer is back.
The Tumor Board at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is meeting as I write. They are mapping out a strategy for the renewed battle that lies ahead. Immediately after yesterday’s call I went home, cried with Debbie, then exercised and showered. I also shaved my head. Again.
And all the while I wept and raged, shamelessly pleading with God.
About an hour later, while Debbie worked the phone calling friends and family, recruiting prayers, I went to find Taylor. He was at his best friend’s house just down the block. The two of them were playing on Nintendo 64. Standing at the front door of our neighbor’s house I said, “Hey, buddy. I need to talk with you. Would you walk home with me?”
“Well… okay, sure! See ya later, Trey.” He was happy as a lark.
Skipping at my side down the middle of the street, he suddenly noticed. “Hey Dad, you shaved your head again! How come?”
Silently I prayed for help. “Yeah. Kinda felt I had to.”
Unfazed by my elusive answer, Taylor chose to tease. “So why’re you out here? Shouldn’t you be doing something with Mom? After all, today is your twentieth wedding anniversary!” His question was full of impish innuendo. And he seemed to sense a need to make me smile. I tried to comply, but knowing his skill at reading my heart, I quickly changed the subject.
While we walked I made an impromptu promise. “Guess what? Just today I made a decision. We’re gonna get you a brand-new, state-of-the-art laptop, one with all the bells and whistles—like tons of memory and a DVD-drive!” The laptop he’s used for a year doesn’t belong to us. And at the ancient age of four, it’s a technological dinosaur. Taylor was thrilled with the news.
“Yes, yes, yes! So when’re we gonna get it? Huh? Huh?”
I chuckled, pleased with his euphoria. “Pretty soon. Prob’ly in the next two or three weeks.”
When we reached our house, instead of going in, I directed him to a seat in the front yard. Underneath a large shade tree, we sat atop a green metallic box shielding an electrical transformer for our neighborhood. Still excited by the promise of a new computer, Taylor looked at me, curious by my silence, by the dissonance he felt. Finally I spoke. “Well, buddy, I’ve got news. Good news and bad news. The good news is what I just toldja about the new laptop…”
O God! Help me do this…
“The bad news is that one of your doctors called this afternoon…” I paused and said no more. I didn’t have to. His jaw dropped.
“It’s back, isn’t it?” he whispered.
I didn’t say a word. Instead I just moved closer and put my arms around him. Taylor buried his face in my chest and bawled while I baptized his head with large, hot drops falling from my eyes.
Taylor’s birthday is tomorrow, on Friday, June 4. He turns eleven. A huge party is planned. On Saturday and Sunday, Taylor is supposed to be on TV helping host a telethon in a local effort to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. And for at least a month he’s counted down the days until his Hickman catheter will come out. He’s had these tubes dangling from his chest for a year. With the Hickman gone and treatment over, Taylor’s summer is full of plans: uninhibited swimming, three camps, and a nostalgic visit with old friends in Dallas—a school-free time when they can really play. Then after summer ends, he’s thrilled about going to a new school where he knows the work will be harder.
Now, at best, these things are uncertain. Most are dreams destroyed. And all in less than sixty seconds. As our tears subsided, still sitting in the front yard underneath a tree, Taylor started asking questions.
“Will I still be able to go to my summer camps?”
“Don’t know. Prob’ly not all of ‘em, anyway.”
“What about school this fall?”
“Don’t know. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
“What will the doctors do now?”
“I have a few guesses, but… I don’t know. We should find out tomorrow.” We prayed, then went inside the house and cried with Mom. As Debbie hit the phones, dialing for defenders who would pray, Taylor and I went upstairs and lay down on his bed. I put my hand on his chest and sometimes stroked his new blond hair. I knew his too would soon be gone. Again.