About two years after my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment I hit an emotional wall. And hit it hard. I was struggling to wrap my brain around why so many thousands of women, a few of those thousands personal friends of mine, die from this disease. Some pass peacefully, others in horrific pain. Why, God? Why did you take her and leave me here? Those women had families, too. They were nice people who were courteous and kind and respectful and raised their children right and made Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter magical for their families. They worked miracles on a shoestring budget, sewed buttons on shirts and patched jeans, and never let the Tooth Fairy forget that baby tooth placed carefully under a pillow. So why take them and leave me? Most days I would say I like them a lot better than I like myself.
I imagine this morning and for many mornings to come there are an awful lot of folks in the Southeast who are asking that same question. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching the news, tracking the storms, looking out the window, listening, waiting. And all I heard was rain. Hard rain at times but nothing more. I watched those storms make an inverted ‘v’ right across the area where I grocery shop, pick up my dry cleaning, and take my children to school. This morning not even a tree branch is out of place in my backyard. The sapling cherry tree that I planted just a few weeks ago actually looks like it grew a bit overnight.
Obviously, I don’t have an answer that will cause people to sit back, throw up their hands and say, “oh, now I get it. Now I understand.” However, I can offer this: understanding the ‘why’ of life, at least for me, is a daily exercise for my heart and head. When I reflect back over my almost ten years of being a ‘loud and proud’ cancer survivor, it’s the little things that help me keep it all in perspective. When I see another woman who is obviously going through treatment, I don’t hesitate to touch her arm and ask her how she’s feeling. What is her diagnosis? How is treatment going? Does she have a strong support system around her? And I try never to forget to tell her she’s beautiful. She’s strong. And she’s a survivor every day that she wrestles her foe to the ground.
For many of us life goes on today just like it did yesterday. Let us not forget to be tender, merciful, kind, patient, and gentle with those for whom life will never be the same.