A few days ago I went shopping for a gift for friends who celebrated 50 years of marriage. I wanted to get them something that would resonate with them and so I went to the Catholic Book Store which is not one of my usual shopping venues. I did find something appropriate , but I also found something for myself as well. At the time I don't think I realized the significance of it, I just knew that it jumped out at me and I had to pick it up. It is a beautiful coffee mug, a Wedgwood blue (my favorite colour), and perfect size and shape for a GOOD cup of coffee....all the things I believe necessary when buying a coffee mug! :)
It had one other characteristic....a beautiful quote about courage. Courage has been one of the words that many people have used to describe me and I have never really felt completely comfortable with that description. I have always believed that courage implied a choice....you could do something or you couldn't do it....it wasn't something you had when you had no choice. Cancer was never a choice in my life. I didn't have the choice of being healthy and chose to be sick...I didn't have the choice of death and chose life...it is something that happened to me. So for me there was nothing courageous about it. The quote on the mug says: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of faith"
OK. That definition makes sense to me. So I bought the mug......end of story right?
No, not at all. It has been churning in my mind ever since I bought it. Why? Why did I feel the need to buy it....I am not normally an impulse buyer, unless it concerns yarn, so why did I feel without even a hesitation to pick it up and buy it. I have used it everyday since.....and read the quote each time, thinking Yes that is what I believe. Then I realized it...........I have been afraid lately for the first time in years. Fear is not something I like to acknowledge, and it is really not something I like to talk about. But lately my life has been ruled by fear......the events of last August have left me in a state of fear.......
From the very beginning of this journey, I have never really felt that there wasn't anything I couldn't handle. I would do what was necessary but I also wasn't going to change much about how I lived my life. I remember early on, when I would plan a trip many people would say "what if you get sick when you are away, what will happen" and I would shake my head and say, "what if I don't get sick". I really believed that I wasn't suppose to live my life in the world of 'what if's'. That is exactly what I have been doing since August. I think the events of last August which were so out of my control have made me feel very vulnerable. A state I don't think I ever really considered myself to be.
First going home to visit my mom for two weeks....even though she was in the hospital it never occurred to me that she would die. It never occurred to me that this would be my last visit with her. That did throw me for a loop I admit.....but then to end up in hospital and have to have surgery I think was just too much for my psyche. The worst case scenario had happened..my mother died and I got sick while away, and it was very very scary. I remember being absolutely terrified just before the surgery, something I had never before felt. When the nurse was rolling me into the OR I asked her if people were usually afraid and I will never forget what she said "usually when it's their first time, but not as scared when they have been through it before"....I looked at her and said, "well this isn't my first rodeo and I am absolutely terrified"....she took my hand and said "I will hold your hand until you go to sleep"....
When I woke up I remember being so relieved! But I will never forget how frightened I was. I had never felt that way before. In many ways I think it was because my daughter wasn't there this time. It was like I might not get a chance to say good - bye, give her all the advice I need to, make sure she understood I loved her ...... Yet I survived and am still here but the fear has yet to subside.
I think this has come home to roost lately because I am going to go away for the first time since last August. I am having the what ifs, and I am not used to them. I will be fine, and I will still go away....I am not one to miss a trip. Maybe, the mug was God's way of reminding me that although I don't think of myself as courageous, that maybe this new way of looking at courage will give me some.
So, I might be afraid but I must remind myself I also have much faith.....and it will see me through!