A few weeks ago, I was in Costco with my three little ones. We arrived at the checkout counter behind an elderly woman who obviously knew the cashier, a fifty-something woman with bleach blond hair and a thick southern drawl. They were conversing loudly as I waited in line, tending to my three and paying little attention until something sparked in my mind.
“There was a girl here yesterday who was wearing a hat and was so self-conscious about it,” said the cashier, “I told her. I says ‘You wear that hat with pride, honey. That hat means you’re a fighter.’”
“Mmmmm hmmmm,” the customer nodded vehemently. “I love seeing people who aren’t afraid to hide their cancer. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“Oh, honey.” the casher waved her arms as she talked, “I think a person with a scarf or a hat is just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Cancer is ugly, but those cancer patients are beautiful.”
“Mommy,’ my Ash piped up, “You had cancer.”
They turned and I smiled gently at both them and my Ash, saying nothing. When it was my turn at the counter, I leaned in quietly to the cashier, and said, “Thank you for saying that.”
She smiled back, “I heard your son. What kind?”
“Breast.” I paused, “And thyroid.”
She scanned my groceries and kept talking without missing a beat, “Something came back irregular on my last mammogram. I have to go in for a biopsy.” She stopped, thinking for a moment, “But you know, the Good Lord is gonna take care of me. Of that I am sure. It’s going to be all right.”
She paused again, and this time tears filled her eyes. “Tell me it’s going to be all right.”
I thought about Job. I’d been reading that book of the Bible during my quiet times. I thought of all he suffered, all he said, all he learned.
I thought about how his wife told him to curse God and die. Can you imagine what it must have been like for him to hear his own wife tell him to just go and die? Rather than stand by him, he was forsaken by the one on earth who should have stayed with him the longest.
I thought about all the children he had lost. The pieces of his heart torn away from him by catastrophe. I thought about his friends who proved themselves to be not true friends.
I thought about his physical pain and suffering. Torment more than I could begin to fathom. I thought about his home, livestock, fortune destroyed. I thought about his questions, his faith, his future.
I also thought about how he lost everything, but he still had everything he needed.
Because he had God.
I reached across the counter and squeezed the hand of this woman I did not know, but with whom a small kinship had formed, “Yes, the Lord will take care of you no matter what.”
It is going to be all right.