One of the hardest questions that we get asked is 'How are you guys doing? I discovered sometimes we are frustrating others. These frustrated people are all aware of our situation.
Fact 1. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Chemo is not fun.
Fact 2. Tim's plant suddenly closed. Unemployment is not fun.
Some folks stick around after hearing the initial response that we were doing okay. 'How's chemo?' they asked. Or 'Has Tim had any luck finding another job?' We answer those questions too. 'Chemo is hard and I am really dreading going back to the cancer center this week'. Or, 'Tim has tested for two jobs but there have been no interviews yet. We're keeping our fingers crossed.' We talk and visit and are encouraged. Other people walk away after they hear that we are fine. In some cases, we hear later that we are 'impossible to help'. It makes me feel badly, as if we are difficult people, but I'm not sure what other response we could give. We're doing okay.
I've seen Tim cry only two or three times in my life. He's not a real emotional charactor. I, myself am a sap, but am not generally a 'bursting into tears' kind of girl around others(although I'm more inclined to burst into tears now than I used to be). That rules out a tearful response when people ask us how we're doing. We both believe in God, and have made up our mind that although this is a hard time, we will behave as Godly people. We will try our best not to be discouraged and we will look for the blessings. There have been many. The fact of the matter is that Tim and I have always been careful, frugal people. With five children, we had no choice. Our goal was to get them through college. Tim and I have lived our lives without that education. We are both very intelligent people, but a lot of good jobs require not only that you be intelligent, but that you have a college diploma to guarantee it. We made up our minds early that all five of ours would go to college and to that end, we have lived very carefully. We have never had cable TV. My clothes are second hand (but I hasten to assure you I dress very well). We heat our home and our water with wood from our own woods. Our diet consists of, primarily, venison. We have two deer in the freezer. We drive older cars and have no car payments. We have a comfortable home, but we have put off remodeling the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom. They work. They're not pretty, but they're neat, and there will be time for all of that later. Our focus is on the future...our own and our children. So when you ask us how we're doing, well, financially, nothing has changed really. We're still frugal. We'll both feel better once Tim is employed again, but unemployment has not really cramped our style. We are not feeling especially pinched, so the first words that spring to our lips is 'We're doing okay.'
Chemo is hard. I am discouraged, and I do not want to go back to the cancer center this week. I don't. I'm just everlastingly weary of the treatments, of feeling awful, and picking myself up, of enduring, of being brave, keeping that stiff upper lip. I get discouraged, sometimes, I cry, sometimes. I also pray and prayers are answered. I have a good husband. I have good kids who can make me laugh. I have friends who know how to cheer me up. Small miracles happen on a fairly regular basis, and I am glad for them. So if you ask me how I'm doing, the first response that springs to my lips is going to be 'I'm doing okay'.
We are not being dishonest here. We are not trying to push people away. I have said, from the beginning, that this time will be a time to watch God at work, close up. It is true. He is working. That is how it can be, when you ask us how we're doing, even in these dark, dark days, our answer is, invariably, "We're doing okay."
I always thought that people would be encouraged to hear that.