One year ago yesterday I answered my cell phone and heard my doctor say three terrifying, mind-numbing words: "you have cancer." It wasn't an April Fools' Day joke.
I just finished my last treatment and am feeling good but it has been a year full of challenges - days of having to face a reality I did not want to know, days of such bone-deep weariness that I just wanted to hold my breath and wake up in heaven, days when I rejoiced if I could put my clothes on without panting.
I learned a few things along the way - these are some of them:
I learned that you can be terrified of walking through a door and still turn the knob.
I learned that you can feel tiny and alone and helpless until you look into the faces of the other people in that hospital waiting room who are bandaged, bald and draped in hospital gowns but still manage to smile at you. Their strength feeds you.
I learned there are a lot of people out there who know how to love in practical ways. There are people who are brave enough to care for the desperately ill in ways that shout the word grace into a needy world.
I learned that doctors don't know everything but most are genuine in their quest to do their best to help.
I learned that when all you can do is howl in the middle of a hospital corridor there will be someone there who says it's okay, go ahead and do it.
I learned that being surrounded by suffering can reveal all that is noble and wise and beautiful in humanity. Seeing it is worth the cost of being there.
I learned that when you know there will be things to laugh about in the day, it's not so hard to get out of bed.
I learned that when you are in a place of having always to receive there is a desperate need to give.
I learned there is time to cherish life even when you feel that it's ebbing away from you.
I learned that when God's voice is silent, if you are willing to open your eyes you will see his face, weeping with you. Sometimes the face looks a lot like members of your own family or a friend.
I learned that God may seem indifferent until your eyes open to see a beam of light pulsing along the tendril of a spider plant, making its blossoms glow. Hope is a dimension of light.
Marcia's sixth book, A Tumbled Stone, is now available. Contact her at Marcia@vinemarc.com