Two weeks ago my husband and I spent the day in the hospital with yet another family member battling cancer. When you are in the hospital you have a lot of time to reflect, but sometimes in the midst of treatments, lab results and phone calls I can quickly forget the important things I learn when I’m forced to sit. The lessons from room 337 were too important to forget however, so here’s a short list:
1. When I want to whine, complain and fail to find joy when healthy, I need to remember how grateful some are to eat a meal, get out of bed unassisted or sleep in their own bed. I need to remember when I am “stressed” (about nothing), “upset” (for no good reason) or want to otherwise feel badly for myself, life truly is too short and unpredictable to waste.
2. Humor is a gift. I have watched my loved ones choose to find humor when they are receiving chemotherapy, wearing a hospital gown or traveling by wheelchair. As selfish as it sounds, I have been incredibly thankful for that. Choosing to make a joke when they want to cry, give up or be alone, makes the rest of us feel a little better. It is a choice my family members have made in the midst of their struggle and that choice reflects how selfless, thoughtful and loving they are.
3. Things that seemed incredibly important yesterday can become completely trite today. Sickness has a way of putting life in the perspective it should have every day.
4. When people are battling cancer it’s easy and therapeutic to say, “I love you.” For some of us, “I love you” on an ordinary day can feel uncomfortable or “unnecessary” (we all know we love each other, right?), but cancer changes that. Selfishly again, as good as it feels to say it feels just as great to hear.
5. An amazing side of people comes out in the face of sickness. Not just those who are battling the illness, but the people closest to them as well. I have watched two incredible spouses become nurses, physical therapists and chauffeurs. My husband, in-laws, nieces and nephews have gotten done what has needed to get done, said what needed to be said and loved with a love that is selfless and brave. I have a new awe and gratitude especially for my strong, wise and godly husband.
6. Cancer rots, but when you serve a God who works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, this disease will not consume us (Lam. 3:19-24). As awful as cancer is, it often brings out the best in people because cancer can never destroy the most powerful force there is. I know because I am watching loves impact around me every day in this beautiful, brave and caring family.
“ “Dear God, thank you that you are in control and on your throne when we feel most out of control and afraid. Thank you for my family and the strength and love they have in the midst of doctor’s appointments, wig shopping and trips to the ER. Thank you that although we do not want to go through this, we are learning what is important, how to love better and more freely and the peace that comes when we trust in You. In Your Name, Amen.”