(As you read this, please take the time to blow away the chaff of my scattered mind and find the grain of my heart.)
Over the past few days I’ve had several people ask, “What do you need?” I’ve thought a lot about the answer to that question, and the practical, black and white, type-A in me wants to make my list of things.
Well, let’s see… I’ll need help with childcare and carpool… meals… cleaning… anything else?
Oh, yes, well, I need to get things done. But how do I get them done when I have absolutely no energy left? I told Bri today I had moved from being “okay” to now feeling just “tolerable”, and I know before I get to the scan it will be “miserable”. Not much to look forward to. So how do I get stuff done before I get to the miserable part?
I’m tired of being practical. I’m tired of being a slave to my “to-do list”. I’m tired of trying to distinguish my needs from my wants.
What do I need? Wow. Loaded question.
I need people in my life who aren’t afraid of my neediness. I need to hear those knocks on my door and open them to see people to hug me and cry with me. I need to see those emails in my inbox from friends who are authentic and are struggling with all this, too. I need to know friends aren’t tired of me and I need to know they aren’t going to tell me how to deal with this (trust me, I’ve had just about all the advice I can take… what foods to eat, what exercise to get or not get, what doctors to see, when to laugh or not laugh, etc.). I need to hear voices on the phone or answering machine telling me they’re praying. I need to grieve. I am tired of loss.
I need to know that my friends are taking care of themselves. That they are getting check-ups and looking for lumps and eating healthy so they can be here for others and not have to go through what I’m going through, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
I need to feel B’s arms around me every night telling me he’s here. That he’s not going anywhere. That he’s not giving up on me, even though my “warranty has run out” (Not long after we got married and all my health problems showed up, Bri jokingly asked my parents, “Does she come with a warranty?”).
I need to take time to breathe. To look for the joy in each day. I need to make gratitude part of my daily “to-do list”.
I need “perfective” (that’s perspective in Bear language).
I need to stop putting disclaimers on my blog and not worry about appearing like I have it all together, because I don’t. I sin in my struggle. I place expectations on myself and others that aren’t healthy.
I need to hear truth. I am weary from preaching it to myself over and over and over, but I am afraid I will forget the truth in the mire of all of this, my mangled life. So I keep preaching.
My friend, Monica, wrote to me once…
I imagine finding out you have cancer is something like that day. You are living life, planning what’s for dinner that night, what you’ll do next week or next year, and then without warning it hits you from behind and mangles your life. When the dust settles from the surgery and the treatment and the months of life you have lost you take inventory. Am I totaled? What’s the blue book value of this crazy life, and do I have any equity left once the loan is paid? Can I get a new life? And you wonder why this happened. Deep down inside you feel this might be a result of a lopsided checks and balances sheet where God and sin are concerned regardless of what you know in your head about Christ’s saving love.
She describes the struggle perfectly. I need to hear that it’s not God punishing me for my lack of faith. It’s not God up there banging His head against the wall thinking, “She’s just not getting it, so let’s give her MORE cancer.” God doesn’t work like that, although I want to put Him in a box and think He does. No, God is grieving with me. And I need to know that. To be reminded of that. That He is with me, even when I don’t feel His presence.
Fear is there. While this isn’t as ugly or scary as my breast cancer, it is scary and ugly nonetheless. In two and a half weeks I find out if I still have cancer in my thyroid, and we could have to decide whether to risk a second treatment which could cause leukemia or to risk surgery which could damage my vocal cords. And when I think about either of those options, I think to myself…
“I need to sing with Brian again. I can’t not sing with Brian ever again.”
Elizabeth Berg wrote a novel called Talk Before Sleep. It is a very raw, very real, very graphic, very heartbreaking look at the loss and pain of cancer and a friendship that is strengthened through it. She writes through the eyes of the friend…
“Today is Thursday. Tomorrow is Friday. It scares me, the way tomorrow keeps coming. I look in the paper for a good comic strip to bring Ruth. All of them today would only hurt her feelings. Try this sometime: read the comics as through time were awfully short. You will be hard-pressed to find anything funny. You will understand irony. You will put down the paper and look at the way the sun happens to be lighting the sky and you will be thinking one word: please.”
There are days where I need to hear I have tomorrow. But then I remember the words of Elisabeth Elliot that it is today for which I am responsible. That God still holds tomorrow in His hands. All my tomorrows. And that I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him and there will be no tomorrow… just forever.
What do I need?
I need more of Jesus every day… because, well, He has already given me all that I need… all the rest, they’re just added bonuses, kisses of His love, perspective, hope.