I started a practice over 1.5 years ago of posting 3 things that I am grateful for that particular day as my last post on Facebook every night. I began this adventure in late October of 2013 in preparation for the month of Thanksgiving – I wanted to transition well and be knee deep in my new habit way before November arrived. I had no idea at the time that I would still be posting what I am grateful for every night since then. I can only think of one night that I didn't post 3 things of gratitude and it was recently and I was exhausted and I had a good reason to be.
The hubs was recently diagnosed with metastatic disease – this means his primary cancer, leiomyosarcoma, from 2011, has returned. However, this post isn't to share about his recent diagnosis as much as it is about how grateful I am for the honesty that people have shared in reaction to hearing that his cancer had returned. I have learned to really appreciate honest people over the past few years – even if their honesty is brutal and could have been delivered in a kinder fashion. I have grown to rather appreciate brutal honesty over a lie or worse, I prefer it over someone cutting me completely out of their life without telling me why.
It struck me this week how differently people react and respond to your bad news and it pains me to know that our situation causes anyone else discomfort. I could say I am grateful that you all feel our pain as it’s nice to not be alone in it – but I really am not grateful for that. What I am grateful for are the texts; the e-mails; the voice mail messages; and the snail mail that I have received, this week alone, where some of the closest people to me have shared their disbelief; their loss for words; their questions on how we have so much belief in God that we have not completely broken down over this news; and even one text asking if I wanted to talk about the serious stuff or the fun stuff or both?
All of these forms of communication have brought smiles to my face. I have shed tears over them. I have laughed. And, I have pondered each of them.
A text I received this morning: “Good morning sweet friend!!! Thinking of you this morning and praying for Bill’s healing! I still cannot believe this. I keep thinking this is a dream and soon I will wake up.”
Dear sweet friend: I wake up almost every day wondering if our new reality is real or just a nightmare. Knowing that I wake up in good company, with you by my side, though you are many miles away, gives me strength to get out of bed and face whatever that day brings.
An Easter card we received today: “Dear Bill and Larissa, I have started this letter several times, written it in my head more times and still don’t know how to express my thoughts and feelings. I can’t even remember how I responded, or even if I did respond, when you called to tell us the news. It was such a shock. It took me by surprise. I just had never thought of the possibility that it might be cancer. After watching your video (which is on my FB wall), all I could think is that you are such amazing people. Your faith is so strong - I wish mine was.”
My immediate response would be: We were a little shocked too but we knew that there was a 40% chance that the cancer would return and we have enjoyed living in the 60% cancer-free zone for the past 3.5 years. God was sweet to allow us to enjoy our last active-duty time in Hawaii, with dear friends and amazing experiences. As for our faith, we can’t stand and say that we believe in a Sovereign Lord but turn around and complain about this diagnosis. God is always in control and we ALWAYS want to trust him! Especially in this situation!
There were several more texts and cards I have received just this week but those two really reminded me that all our lives are so intertwined that when one of us feels pain, all of us feels pain. We are in this thing called life together and though I have always known that it is so very much more real for me today. And for that I am grateful.
I hate that we have to go through this second cancer journey and I hate that you all are coming with us – whether you wanted to or not. That’s the interesting thing about community, right? Sometimes we choose the communities we want to be a part of and other times we are thrown into a community that we would have chosen to avoid if we could have. I am so grateful for the amazing community God has given us. And I am so grateful that you are being honest and not shying away from our reality. For those of you who aren't friends with us on Facebook, please know that we are finding the humor in our new reality, we have even named the second round of cancer BOB (Blobs on Bill), and we equally welcome funny texts; funny stories shared on Facebook or in a message; and funny cards are welcome. A balance of reality and comedy sure do make our days more bearable and fun!!!!