Writing has always been therapeutic for me, but somehow during this season of life I find myself at a loss for words. So often I try to write and find there’s no way to articulate all the emotion that I feel. I never knew it was possible to feel such a vast array of emotions all at the same time. Over the course of any given day I feel sadness, I feel anger, and I feel fear. But I also feel joy, I feel peace, and I feel thankful. Somehow even though the world around me, my world, is spinning violently out control I am able to have moments of joy and peace and thanksgiving. And that is nothing short of the grace of God.
I’m learning that there is a blessing that comes from stopping to be thankful. That blessing is joy and peace. When I stop in the midst of this horror long enough to be thankful for her life, to be thankful that she exists, the Lord is faithful to bring me joy. When I stop worrying about what the next 15 months of this journey will bring, how sick she’ll get and if the cancer will ever really be gone, long enough to be thankful that she didn’t feel sick TODAY, He’s faithful to provide peace.
We woke up this morning to a fallen tree on our roof. It had snapped close to the base and fallen over the top of the kids play set and the top of it was laying on the roof. A closer look revealed that it hadn’t snapped completely from the base of the tree and every few minutes we could hear “naps” and “pops” as it broke off a little more. An even closer look revealed that the only reason it hadn’t fallen more, quite possibly breaking through our dining room window and definitely taking out the play set, was because it had been caught by a small branch from another tree that was still holding it up. That tiny branch was, infact, what was keeping the entire tree from breaking.
Seeing the branch helped me put my day into perspective. I was angry the tree had fallen in the first place. It hadn’t stormed at all last night and there seemed to be no logical prompting to it. Secondly, Kendrick had to take another unpaid day off work to deal with it. Plus, we were out the expense of our insurance deductible. Seriously? There wasn’t even any wind last night. No wind.
But then I realized, if I took my focus off the tree and instead placed it on the branch, everything changed. I was so thankful for that branch. I know that insurance would have covered the damage, but how much would our lives be inconvenienced by the repairs. What if we had lost our comfy weekend at home before we depart for another week of chemo because of all the repairs required. And who’s to say it would have been a straight shot anyway, what if it had veered left and went into Carter’s room. I was suddenly so thankful for the branch, I didn’t care about the tree.
And that’s the way I’m trying to do life with cancer too. If all I do is concentrate on it, it will take me down as it spins my life violently out of control. So I’m thankful for what we have in the midst of it. Izzy’s hair started falling out this week. She’s in a wedding this weekend and she wanted to still have her hair for it. She doesn’t and the other girls will. But I celebrate that when I handed her a pair of scissors and let her take control of the situation she never looked back. I told her “If anyone’s going to take away your hair it will be you. We won’t give that to cancer”. And the whole time she did it she laughed saying she was “making her own hair fall out”.
She has to take an antibiotic twice a day and rinse out with mouth wash six times a day. That’s not fair. And it’s only just begun. We argue back and forth about whether she should do it in one big drink or tiny sips. Last night she looked at me and waved the syringe in my face and said “The only way I can fight cancer is one sip at a time”. I nearly cried tears of joy. She gets it. And better yet, she’s fighting.
These are the branches that keep my focus off the tree. I pray that God gives me the grace to continue to see them. The tree is huge. It clearly has the potential to destroy everything around with it’s massive impact. But the branches have the potential to soften the blow.