Coping With Cancer: Singing in the Bedroom

Cancer Care at Rush University Medical CenterBy Margaret Nyman

October 1, 2009

As Nate was getting dressed this morning, I was across the room organizing his closet, bringing the most comfy clothes to the middle and sliding the suits to the end. All of a sudden he began to sing, very softly and to himself. I stopped what I was doing and listened.

Nate is tone deaf and hasn’t sung in church for years, after one condemning experience. He was trying to sing on-key (without success) when the lady in front of him turned all the way around to look directly at him and make sure he saw her disapproval. He stopped mid-chorus and hasn’t sung in church since.

He knows the words to most of the songs in the hymn book (along with the words to all of the Elvis Presley tunes). He’s also aware of his tendency to sing off-key and knows this makes on-key singing difficult for those around him. But I’ve tried to convince him our worship singing arrives in heaven as melodious music, no matter what the ability of the songster. (I’m not sure about the Elvis songs.) Although we’ve all encouraged Nate to sing, nothing can convince him.

Today, however, he was singing. The tune was nothing I recognized, and maybe it was just miscellaneous notes strung together. But as I listened, it loosely resembled a chorus we sang often at Moody Church while I was growing up:

“Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting him whate’er befalls,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.”

Maybe our new slow-release pain pills were doing a fabulous job. I prefer to think it was the Lord reaching down with yet another gift. Against all logic, he blessed Nate with joy at his core, deep in his heart, despite the horrendous circumstances of his deteriorating physical life.

I got a gift this morning, too, as I listened to Nate. Having awoken with tears trickling out even before I opened my eyes, I was lifted from that low place to a place of well-being, right at the start of another difficult day.

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” (Nahum 1:7)

Guest contributor Margaret Nyman takes us step by step through the 42 days after her husband Nate was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Follow her posts by subscribing to the Coping With Cancer RSS feed. Nyman’s personal blog is at

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