Once upon a time, before childhood cancer, I had all the answers. I knew what was right and wrong. Things were either black or they were white. Life was simple. I held to a moral superiority. And then I walked the sarcoma road with my son. Now the lines are blurry, not quite as clear as before. What’s happened?
When I faced cancer with my son and we miraculously came out the other end, scarred, but alive, any other problem or crisis or consequences of poor choices I might face with another one of my children seemed to PALE in comparison. I’ve realized I can get through the next hurdle in life, because I’ve battled through cancer with my boy. Childhood cancer has a way of defining and pinpointing what’s most important as I travel through my life. I guess it’s an earthly lesson I didn’t expect.
I am friends now with moms who have lost a child to cancer. I notice the sadness surrounding them even when they are laughing and seemingly enjoying their lives. They move forward, but really they have no choice, because life didn’t just stop for them once their child died. These women have taught me so much. They ache with an emptiness clinging to the only hope they have of being reunited with their precious baby once they too die and go to heaven. In the meantime, they cry themselves to sleep after a full, busy and purposeful day. They breathe in and out with aching hearts.
I am facing serious consequences with one of my daughters due to her poor choices, but it’s not cancer. It’s a broken dream of what I had expected for her and from her. It’s a broken trust that is being repaired, because repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation are being worked through and the hope I have of redemption with this child is a reality of NOW. It’s alive on this planet in this moment. It’s not a hope waiting for eternity. The dream for her has changed. It’s not cancer.
It’s not cancer. Some of my Christian friends who know the circumstances, who love my daughter, cringe at these words. Maybe they feel I’ve lowered my standards. All of my friends of faith, who know about the situation, are hurt by my daughter’s actions. But some are responding with deep grace and mercy. Some are not. I believe all of my friends love me and my family dearly. I know some of us may have a harder time with God’s grace and mercy. None of us deserve it. Some just don’t have the eye to see what I see. I live everyday with the honest possibility of outliving my almost 8 year old son. I know one day I could be watching him suffer again perhaps watch him die. This changes everything for me. This is my cross to bear. And because of that, I find it easier to forgive with grace and mercy knowing what I’ve been forgiven, knowing what’s important to me now.
Broken dreams and cancer…