Library

I was passing through the school library when I heard a small voice.

“Are you Mrs. Heidi Jones?”

“Yep!”

“Did you used to have cancer?”

I had to think for a minute on how to answer that.  Did I USED TO HAVE cancer?  Do I still technically have cancer?  Am I a survivor?  A patient?  When you are undergoing the first rounds of radiation treatments, it is difficult to feel FINISHED.  SOMETHING is being treated.

There is nothing inherently frightening about a radiation treatment.  It doesn’t take long, and everyone is LOVELY.  The only necessary skills are holding still and breathing on command.  Nailed it round one.

I HATE going.

All of the logical self-talk in the world can’t talk me into seeing this process solely as the opportunity to heal and stay well.  I know this, because I have literally used up all of the self-talk in the world.  I put on a happy face – except for treatment two – when unruly tears persisted in traitorously spilling down my cheeks (positive note – it did not devolve into the ugly cry).  I protested, “I don’t even know why I am crying.”

But, I did.

Every day, I have to confront the cancer.  I have to look at a chest marked with angry scars and radiation paint markings covered with tape.  I look like a map.  The kind you see on the wall of a METRO train – a hundred possible stops.  I remind myself –  just keep going until you reach YOUR station.  I’m ready to hear that it is time to exit the cancer train.

Which brings me back to my little friend in the library.

“Did you used to have cancer?”

“Well, they cut it out, so I guess you could say that I USED TO HAVE cancer.”

“You don’t have it no more?”

“I think maybe I don’t…”

“YOU BEAT CANCER????”

“I think maybe I did!”

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!”

Leave it to a child.  A child who I do not know, as she is in a lower grade and has not come through my hands yet.  Her small voice – walking me through the positive declaration that I USED TO HAVE cancer.  Celebrating LIFE in a chance meeting in the school library.  Today, my radiation treatment didn’t bother me a bit.

 

 

Now

When I posted on Facebook that I had breast cancer, the outpouring of love was overwhelming.  Everything from prayers – to meals – to hand holding – to house cleaning (yes…I am serious) was offered without hesitation.  A friend from childhood posted “I’ll be praying for you.”  I knew she would.

I was living in a state of uncertainty as I waited for the total picture of my cancer diagnosis.  Staging sounds so fun – on a home improvement show.  Grade indicates worth – in a diamond.  In the world of cancer, staging and grade reflect how difficult life is about to become.  In the face of the unknown, I pondered all possibilities.

What would I do if I had THIS much time?  How would I change my life if I knew it would last THIS long?  Which begs the question – WHY would possible impending death  lead me to live differently?  Would I savor the precious quality of life more?  Would I take more risks?  Love better?  Walk in gratitude for every breath?  Why wasn’t I doing all of that already?

The truth is, possible impending death is a significant part of the human story – from birth.  One day will be the day.  My childhood friend who committed to pray for me died completely unexpectedly a week after I had my mastectomy.  Her worries had been for my run in with the big C – not knowing what was just around her corner.

The adage to live like you are dying is not new.  What it is is WISE.

You have NOW – what will you do with it?

What about Saturday?

I think about that first Saturday.  When no one knew that Easter was coming.  When every certainty evaporated.  The “what now?” had to have been suffocating.  The not knowing is always the hardest part.  Not believing is almost worse.

I am pretty sure that no one believed what was about to happen next.  I think that -because no one was gathered around to watch the miracle unfold.  The activity surrounding the tomb was all based on what was humanly possible.  A guard – to ward off possible body theft followed by “miraculous” alternative facts.  Women – bringing spices to dress the body of the dead.

It is puzzling that no one was gathered at the tomb waiting with hopeful expectation – given the Angel’s statement to the women – “HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID.”  The best “TOLD YOU!” of all time.

All of the evidence.  Miracle on MIRACLE.  None of it convincing enough to override the human instinct to only believe what we can see and understand RIGHT NOW.  THAT Saturday, it seems like every eyewitness forgot that Lazarus strolled on out.   That the widow’s son sat up and chatted.

The current sorrow appears to wipe out every inch of previous wonder.

No judgement here.  I think we have all had those kinds of Saturdays.

It is so much easier to focus on what is humanly possible than to wait on a miracle.  Why this is true, I do not know.  It has just been my observation and experience.  This may be why we quickly reach the end of our proverbial ropes.  What we can’t work out for ourselves – we assume can’t be done.

In the face of miracle on MIRACLE.

A bump in the road can jolt us into crippling amnesia.

But.  Easter. Comes. Anyway.

What would it have looked like if everyone who had experienced/witnessed a miracle was gathered at the tomb all Saturday long?  Waiting.  Believing.  Knowing that the deepest joy of all time was a sunrise away?  Sorrow for a night.  Joy in the morning.

What if we lived like that?  Recognizing that we have experienced miracle on MIRACLE.  Facing our inevitable Saturdays with expectancy that when human possibility reaches a stand still – be on the lookout for the MIRACLE that is about to go down.

Sorrow for a night.  JOY in the morning.  Never forget that Saturday gives way to Easter morning.