And the tulips are blooming, again. It's been eighteen years since I was diagnosed with cancer. I was thinking yesterday about what ran through my mind the morning after the biopsy surgery. I was very much concerned with my eighteen-month-old nursling. In the near term, there was the formidable task of weaning before chemo. In the far term, loomed the fear that I wouldn't see him grow up. He's grown now.
And he's weaned, too;-)
But when I wasn't thinking about Michael, I thought about the oddest random things. What's even odder is that I still remember them.
- I thought about whether I'd live to make pesto of the basil I'd just planted.
- I thought about whether scrunchies--the latest hair craze--would still be in style by the time I had enough hair to again make a ponytail.
- I thought about how much I wanted out of the hospital gown and into a pair of jean shorts and a hoodie.
- I thought about how much I looked forward to going home and washing my kitchen floor (weird, I know, but I loved the smell of Murphy's oil soap on the afternoon breeze while Michael napped and I chatted with my friend Martha on the phone and mopped).
- I thought about how eager I was to get to church and make a good confession and spend some time alone with God.
- I thought about how little I knew about what the Church teaches.
Cancer brings you face to face with mortality in a way that is startlingly real. For me, it brought an unquenchable thirst to know God, and then, a longing to love and to serve Him. And it was the Church from whom I drank deeply. I am still caught by surprise when I encounter lifetime Catholics who have never thought to read the Catechism, who don't know what the Magesterium is, who haven't read a single thing written by John Paul II, or still haven't taken the time to get to Benedict XVI. Don't they care? Don't they know the treasure they have been given? Don't they want to know why we live and why we die?God himself gave us this Church to shelter us and to teach us and to heal us. Time is short--even if you're perfectly healthy. God calls you to Him with urgency.
Life-threatening illness is great way to understand very well how short our lives here are compared to eternity. When one is ill, she yearns to be healed. If one has faith, and is facing a serious illness, she yearns for physical healing, but even more, she yearns to be spiritually whole and healthy. It's a tremendous gift of grace to know that we are wounded and to know where to go for healing. I found healing in the Catholic Church. She nurtured me and she continues to bring me to the Great Physician. There is no doubt that with cancer comes suffering, and not just for the person who is sick. My whole family suffered. But with that suffering and with healing came an understanding that God allows us to suffer in order to bring us closer to Him. And if we will come closer, we will be consoled and we will be cured.