This journey with cancer sometimes takes you places that you never imagined. Just the other day I was feeling so good about my situation and then 'bang' life hits you in the side of the head. One of the things that happens when you are diagnosed with this disease is you involuntarily become a member of a larger group. Some, don't feel too attached and just go along on their own and others find great solace in being with people who know what they are feeling without any words. My situation is a little different still! Because of my past profession I have been privileged to journey with some in a very intimate and amazing way. I used to be a chaplain (read minister if that helps explain) and so often I have been asked to help others with this diagnoses. It really is a privilege, albeit a very difficult one at times. In training we are taught to leave ourselves at the door when ministering to others, but in this situation I must bring myself, my journey, the wisdom I have garnered and sometimes the sadness with me into the room. And then, I must sit and just listen!
Yesterday was one of those days. It was also a very difficult one for me emotionally. I felt guilty!!!! It is that survivors guilt that we often hear about. I feel like I somehow jumped the queue
and arrived on the other side less scathed than most. I know that if I spoke of this to those who have been my companions on this journey, they would probably tell another story, but that is how I felt yesterday. As I sat with this woman and listen to her fears, hopes, disappointments, and exhaustion, I knew that at this moment in time I was not really at that place. I recognized those feelings, I have had those feelings, I know how oppressive those feelings are, but I am not there. I felt guilty about that. Also, I saw the spirit that we have as women, as mothers, as wives, have to want to do things for our family, even if it means fighting for our life in order that they don't suffer. I don't mean that they give us the strength to fight the fight, I mean we feel the need to continue the fight amidst the exhaustion, the frustration, the lack of hope, purely to prevent others from suffering and feeling hopeless themselves. I ask myself, why? It is the spirit of love I realize.
The true spirit of love is to want the best for others, and to be willing to do anything in order to achieve that. Especially as mothers, we cannot fathom allowing our children to suffer if there is one ounce of strength left in us. In some ways I wanted to scream "this is about you".....'what you want', ' how you feel', but there was that part of me that totally understood how she felt. I too would do whatever it takes to avoid my daughter feeling this disease has won, has taken from her the one thing that she loves more than anything. I too will fight to the bitter end. And yet, I felt guilty because at this moment that is not my fight. I am not there and I feel like I somehow missed the bullet.
I guess, the guilt I feel is also part of love. Love for another who is suffering. Love for another who is suffering something that is as familiar to me as my own body and soul. I know the torment, I know the emotional and spiritual pain that cancer can cause, and I know that there is no one who can change that or take it away. I feel guilty because with all my experience, I can do nothing but listen.
Being a presence, an ear, a person to hear what is being said, and to sit quietly is the hardest part of being a friend, but in the end it is probably the most important part. I wish I could have done more, but for now I will pray and my prayer will be a pray for peace for her. A prayer of hope and a prayer of coming to accept whatever it is she must accept and to be at peace with it and know that 'all will be well'.