Soul Letters for the Cancer Sojourner, #22 You’re Going To Make It

This isn’t going to last forever, my friend.

It came from nowhere, didn’t it? It came from inside you, and not from the outside, like scary things are supposed to. They’re supposed to be under the bed, around the corner, in the closet, in that spooky house across the street, with that car careening down the road. Scary things are supposed to be avoidable – don’t look, don’t go there, don’t follow along with that person or do that stupid thing, and there you go – there’s nothing to be scared of. Scary things aren’t supposed to be inside your body. Scary things aren’t supposed to be made of you. The nowhere cancer came from was inside you – how can this be? How could you not know? How could you not stop it? How can you not make it go away by just avoiding it, or crossing the street or closing the closet? How did this come to have its beginning in you?

Tell me, and I’ll stop doing it. Tell me, because everyone keeps asking me “So, do you know what caused it?” I know they want to avoid the scary thing too. How can I tell them where it came from? Just how do you explain that?

And then there’s what happens when you stop being scared, and you start to get used to the fact you have cancer. There’s what happens when you’ve been all the way through shock and terror and the realisation you could die, and out the other side. When your body decides there’s no point pushing all that energy into emotions any more, and makes up it’s mind that your calories and serotonin would be better used doing other things like keeping you calm, or making healthy cells, or repairing the effects of chemotherapy. And you wonder why you don’t get happy or sad anymore, and why you can’t stay focussed on a movie or an interesting project, and you start to wonder if this what it feels like to start dying.

image credit: iStockphoto
image credit: iStockphoto

And then there’s what happens when you begin to wonder what on earth is real and right and true any more, and what you can trust and what you can’t, and what this means about the way things are in this world, and the kinds of things that can happen to people, even good people. And you think about the future, but you can’t see it the way you used to, in your head or your imagination, or where ever it is that hope is made. And you wonder, “is this a sign?” Does it mean you won’t live to see your graduation, or your wedding, or their graduation or their wedding, because you just don’t dream like that any more? And you wonder, is this what survival means – living the rest of your life with an erased imagination, with shallow dreams, with hope that only extends in minutes and hours and days, and not in years and lifetimes?

This feels like it’s going to last forever, my friend. But it isn’t. You’re reading this because it doesn’t last forever. I’ve been there – and here I am. The flat, dreamless existence you’re dragging yourself through now will one day be a memory. This isn’t going to last forever. You’re going to make it. You’ll make it home. To the graduation and the wedding. To the birth, to the first day of school, to the birthdays and the holidays and the cake and the photos and the laughter. You’ll be there. I promise you. You will be there.

This isn’t going to last forever, my friend. You’re going to make it.

(Dedicated to my little strong, fragile, beautiful friend 🙂 )

*****

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2 Replies

  • You always give me something to ponder and cause me to think much more insightfully about life’s hardships, ailments and misfortunes – and how we choose to respond and deal with them – ….”And you wonder, is this what survival means – living the rest of your
    life with an erased imagination, with shallow dreams, with hope that
    only extends in minutes and hours and days, and not in years and
    lifetimes?”…. very profound and true. In many ways I think this is exactly what survival looks and feels like. My limited experience of survival refers to the Burmese Karen people with whom I work. They have arrived in Australia direct from refugee camps in Thailand after escaping through the wild jungles to escape death at the hands of the military regime ruling their former country. Most of the older children were born and have lived all their lives – on the run or in refugee camps. They are the most beautiful, gentle and courageous people. Now living in Australia, they can begin to dream for the first time, begin to imagine, begin to speak, begin to write, begin to read, begin to sing, begin to play, begin to eat plentifully and healthily, begin to laugh and joke, begin to play sport, begin to play a piano, begin to think of a career ….a future. For the first time they can start to look beyond the next meagre meal, the need to forage for the barest of essentials, each dark night of fear hiding from the enemy.

    These children are more than survivors – I see their imaginations being illuminated, their fervent dreams expanding and their lives being changed by their willingness to grasp opportunities, to embrace change, to grow, to learn, to nurture each other, to set goals. They have moved on from a state of barely existing to living full lives of boundless hope and natural child-like enthusiasm and expectancy. They are not merely refugee survivors they are joyful sojourners. Their time of rejection, fear, loss, anguish, sickness,distress,displacement and wayfaring did not last forever….and now they know – they are going to make it! Indeed, they have made it my friend. Some brave souls – even hold onto the biggest dream of all! To return to their homeland – the country of their birth and help those still under duress, those in pain, those who need healing, support and rescue. Their hope has grown so big that it destines them to return. To revisit places of bitterness, sadness and yes even to venture back to the places of death and despair. However,this time they carry with them new resourcefulness, increased knowledge and irrefutable courage born from conviction. Yes, they will make it. It will be the biggest challenge of their lives – the hardest thing they have ever done. They will go forth spreading words and deeds of comfort, release, empowerment and freedom. The world will be watching….and so will God.

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