In December, Steven went in for his annual exams and ready with missionary paperwork for the doctors to fill out for him to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His doctors both felt like his health was good enough to be recommended without any medical limitations (short of possible maintenance to his prosthetic) and told him he could come see them one last time when he gets home in two years for a final exam that would end the ten years of screening and follow up. This was such great news!
Steven couldn't send the papers in until the end of February, but in the meantime, life was good and happening for him as a senior. He was having an epic year with friends and accomplishments. He found out he made it into BYU and competed in the Sterling Scholar competition. Here is a video showing what he called "the most epic moment of his life," with his church basketball team:
He practiced hard to audition for and then perform as a soloist at Skyline's concerto night. That was a goal he had been working on for years and we were so proud of him for his accomplishment and so incredibly grateful to everyone who has had a hand in his success in music--his teachers, family, friends. I often think of the gift of the piano that was given us by so many loving people at such a difficult time. Music has been such a gift for him as well. This felt like the intersection of so much hope and healing. Looking back, we feel so lucky that the night was able to happen at the end of February before everything was cancelled and shut down. Here is a link to that performance.
The Sunday after concerto night, Steven's mission papers got submitted. We waited eagerly to hear the news. On March 10th, the email came that his call was ready. We scrambled to clean up the house and bake cookies and let everyone know they could come over and watch him open his call. We let everyone guess where they thought he would go. I had been telling him for years that he would almost certainly serve state side because of his cancer. Imagine our shock and surprise and his absolute delight when he read that he would be called to the Baltic Mission (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Belarus) teaching in the Russian language! He and his friends had formed a group of Russian Hardbass fans and bought themselves matching tracksuits. So when he read "Russian," all "the Boyz" went crazy. He was to report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on July 22nd.
The amount of excitement this created for him has been palpable. He has started studying Russian in his free time and learns everything he can get his hands on about the countries and people he will be serving.
But oh how that feels like a lifetime ago! How would we have known that our little call opening party would be the last big gathering we would have in....who knows? We would never have anticipated watching so many friends and family members serving missions all over the world being flown home for the pandemic. It seems crazy to think of how naive we were when things would unfold in the days and weeks and make the future seem so uncertain.
And that is where we are now--like all of you, facing an uncertain future. School has been changed to at-home learning. We worship every Sunday in our home now--and it has been that way since the week of his call. His graduation will likely be cancelled or postponed. The MTC experience could very well take place here at home. He has a few more days to decide if he will try to go as planned or wait a year. He feels strongly that he wants to serve now, but what that will look like, we don't know.
Uncertainty is one thing we have dealt with, so it should be familiar. I think back to when Steven was first diagnosed with cancer and I often wondered if he would survive to see his high school graduation or if he would even be able to serve a mission. As I remember that, I can only feel grateful that we have good health and we have each other. I spent so much of my emotional energy worrying about his future and now that feels silly seeing how well things have turned out. And I am faced again with more uncertainly--for all of us--for the world.
I try to remember the lessons I've learned about the fruitlessness of worry, but it is difficult. There are so many things we have no control over, I am trying to come to peace with that and remember the most important lesson I learned from our cancer lessons and that is to be grateful and appreciate the now. Also, how important kindness is to get through hard times.
Thank you to all of you who have show kindness to us through the past almost 10 years of his cancer battle. And thank you for showing kindness to all those around you now. It is the way through, I'm sure of it.