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.
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.