It’s days like these that make me ache.
I ache with the sweetness of a simple day, curled up with my Brian for the morning together, tinkering around the house and running errands “just us” before the children come home. It makes me realize how much I am looking forward to his retirement and us having long days of togetherness. I told him this after he picked up a prescription for me, giving me time to rest in the car. He laughed and said, “We’ll be just like your mom and dad, puttering around and going everywhere together.” He couldn’t have offered a higher compliment. I love the way my parents love.
I ache with the struggle to even dream about the future. This month is two years of living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. At diagnosis, most MBC patients are given two to three years to live. Only 15% live more than five years. How do I dream about a future when these are my odds? I can’t tell you how many times I am asked about when I will be done with treatment, when I will feel better, when it’s over, and I have to face my reality yet again and answer, “Never.” Treatment ends when we choose to stop or when I die. How do I dream when this monster threatens me every single day?
I ache with the gratefulness for life. As of right now, treatment is keeping the cancer suppressed. We don’t know how long it will stay this way, but it’s suppressed today, and I am living life with my loves. I am having days like today with my Brian. I’m reading more and more articles about women who are beating the odds, of how MBC is still incurable, but it’s becoming more treatable. My oncologist told me of one of her patients who has been on my same oral chemo for over ten years now. I want to groan about ten years of feeling this way, but then my heart beats with thankfulness that this is even a possibility.
I ache with the kindness of friends. Friends who bring warm pasta with fierce hugs. Long chats with friends who understand suffering and for the truths we speak into each others’ lives. Friends with whom I can dream and talk about our bucket list of things to do together, who aren’t afraid to plan with me and dream with me, even though they know my fear of dreaming, who make me feel normal. Friends who text just to see how I’m doing and to tell me how they are.
I ache with the fear I have some days. The what if’s? I fear for my children as I watch their fragile strength. I want someone to tell me they’ll be okay. If I am gone in a year, they’ll be okay. I want to hear from someone who knows, and then I look at my own father who lost his father suddenly at a young age, and I know. I know they’ll be okay. My Brian will be okay. It would devastate but not destroy, but I fear for the devastation it could bring.
And I ache with the hope that conquers the fear and the struggle. The hope that is deeper than life here and points me to life eternal. The hope that has justified, and sanctifies and will one day glorify. The hope of “what is” instead of “what if?” The hope that isn’t about odds and is about soul healing (and sometimes body healing, too). The hope that anchors my soul, that points me to the blessings I have… a cup that overflows.
And I ache with the tenderness of it all. The beauty of simple life with a caring man. The beauty of watching my children grow and live. Oh, y’all, nine years ago, the first of four of my diagnoses came. A dear, dear friend, who has walked with me since the onslaught began, sat with me days ago and said to me, “Ang, we begged God for time for you, for time with you. Look how much time He’s given. We beg Him for more, but look what He gave.” And I wept with her over His wonderful goodness.
I ache with the color of flowers on my porch and turning leaves in golden sunsets. I ache with the warmth of long evenings over glasses of wine laughing hysterically with friends over the antics of our children. I ache with the quiet nights curled under new fuzzy blankets with Bella girl’s head on my shoulder, arms intertwined with hers. I ache with the pride of a mom watching her boys run and tackle and seeing the joy on their faces. I ache with the comfort of Jesus, how He has walked this way before me and never, ever turns His back on me. I ache with not just the truth that He won’t turn His back, but with the truth that He can’t, because He keeps His promises to hold me fast.
It’s days like this that make me ache.
There is so much in this life that makes me ache.
Some days the ache is deep and hard.
But today, the ache is beautiful.
“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well…”
(~Antoine de Saint-Exupery)