Saturday, June 11, 2011

parallels? maybe...or not...

I have a friend who I went to school with. She is one of those larger than life people, joined the Peace Corp after college, went back to school for her second degree in nursing, joined the Army, where our paths crossed again...she was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and I was stationed at Ft. Belvoir. Our paths diverged again, for a time, but they crossed again when I moved back home. When she came back for family visits, we tried to see each other. Her family grew to include four children, 3 adopted from China. She is a matter of fact woman, very sensible. Homeschools her children. She is still a nurse, divorced now. She is coming back home to visit her family. We have a large home, a place for all of her family to sprawl and relax. I am very much looking forward to the time with her.

She asked if it would be a bother if she brought along an extra child. "No," I said, "no problem at all." Like I said, we've got a big house. She is bringing along a child from a foreign country, one of those places where guerilla violence lashes out at women and children. His story is horrific. I find myself thinking about his mother, so very badly injured, brought here for medical treatment. Yet my friend describes her as the most cheerful woman imaginable. When my friend invited this young man to travel with her and her family, the mother was not fearful. She was overjoyed that her son have this opportunity.

Overjoyed.

I keep thinking that this is perhaps the most courageous thing a mother can do. She turns her back on the violence and horror of her past and looks to the future, and sees opportunity there. Instead of clinging to her fearfulness, she has let it go, and embraces life.

Her courage makes me feel small and weak.

While I was working at the store today, a woman came in looking for fertilizer. I showed her where it was, and told her where to find cucumber seeds. She thanked me and looked at me in a considering way. "Do you write for the paper?" she asked. I told her that I did. She continued to look at me. "You had breast cancer, right?" I told her that I did. So had she. Ironically, although I did not get dates, it seems that we were diagnosed at about the same time. It turns out that she lives just around the corner from me. We'd spoken before although we were not friends. She went to the big city for treatment. I stayed here, so our paths had not really crossed before while we received treatment. We asked how the other was doing. She is upset at how long it has taken her to spring back to what she considers 'normal'. Bone pain is a problem for her. I have not spoken of it, but after the initial improvement, after stopping tamoxifen, my bone pain has returned although it is not as bad as it was. Still, I find myself wondering if I should just suck it up and go back on the tamoxifen, now that the pain is back and the improvement is only marginal. It is a discouraging time, and I had some additional surgery last week. I am having second thoughts about a lot of things. My neighbor is angry though, and she spoke candidly about her feelings on cancer and cancer treatment. I listened. I don't know. I think about things, and I don't know. I have questions, tons of them, and I don't know how to get answers.

I think of my friend, and of the woman that she knows, and I know that anger isn't right for me. I'm not criticizing my neighbor, but I am not angry. I think that we choose our response. I think that most courageous thing that I can do is to look to the future, and see the opportunity there. Instead of clinging to fearfulness, I need to let it go, and embrace life. There are people in this world who deal with far more uncertainty than I have ever dealt with. It simply cannot be that hard to do. Yet I struggle sometimes. And I feel small and weak.


11 comments:

Kelly said...

I think we all struggle over one thing or another. And I believe in God's eyes all our struggles are worthy of His care and attention, no matter how large or small they might seem in comparison to another's.

Still...in my own way I can relate totally to what you say. I feel small and weak myself.

Mrs.Spit said...

I like Kelly's idea, that all of our struggles are worthy of God's care. That appeals to me today.

FWIW, you are one of the strongest women I know.

Brianna said...

Ohhh, P's coming to town? When's she going to be here, might have to come up for a visit! Haven't seen her since the two little ones were baptized, what, 13 or 14 years ago? I'll try to get ahold of you this week to set something up, I've got Tues. and Thurs. off.

As for your neighbor... well, people handle scary, stressful stuff in their own way. I prefer the way you handle it, but to each their own. BTW, I'm with Mrs. Spit... you're pretty courageous, in my own humble opinion! :)

Anonymous said...

Tim and I tried to figure that out...be in touch. I am in school on Tuesday and Thursday morning, but we'll see what's hopping in the evening. I don't know what their plans are...they are coming to see their family, just staying here, so they'll be in and out, just as we'll be in and out. I told them that our house is their house. Love you, Mom.

A Novel Woman said...

You may feel small and weak sometimes, but I know absolutely and without question, you are not. You are an inspiration to many people, me included.

Mary Paddock said...

What Novel Woman said. I don't know about you, but I find comparing myself to others is a path that never goes anywhere fulfilling or beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Anger and fear so often go together. You can conquer with acceptance. You can! With God's care...yes, beautiful!
Love from,
Another Small Survivor

steviewren said...

I'm sorry that you are still having such bad bone pain. When I upped my dose of Vitamin D the bone pain I was having in one of my legs got better. My mother found the same was true for her. Maybe your cancer treatment altered your Vit. D production or maybe you just aren't outside soaking it up and much as you used to be in your old job. It might be worth a try.

quid said...

Its easy to be angry about cancer. Also easy to let the way it is constantly "alive" in you following diagnosis make you feel small and weak.

I can understand how you'd both feel different ways, and diverge in outlook.

I keep reminding myself that it is OK to Live imperfectly... to give in to the hard stuff one day and then soar on the optimisim the next. For me, the time I spend alone, the time I meditate, restores the optimism so that I can wield it each day and not respond as much to the highs and lows.

I wish this for you.

quid

BUSH BABE said...

I always say to other mothers who feel guilty when complaining that their kid is sick - after they find out about Dash's early years - that its not a competition. Awful is awful. And when your Awful impedes on your life it's perfectly acceptible to mourn the loss or the pain or the worry. Then it's okay to try and pick up the pieces. It's what you do with it from there that makes or breaks you.

You inspire me. You are NOT small or weak. Sorry to hear that you are still experiencing pain and had to have surgery. I do hope it settles soon...

Hugs
BB

PaintedPromise said...

what they ALL said... you are truly an inspiration to all of us Debby!!