I would not use the word ease to describe my experiences over the past month. However, the privileged part seems to apply quite well. If a person has to go through something very difficult, there is no better way to do it than to have the help and support of hundreds. Hey, let’s face it. It could have been much worse. Also, in the past few days, I feel I’ve been the recipient of a free get out of jail card. No chemo and radiation? Boo-yah, a free ride through cancer-land, and hopefully for a good long time. Jon was being humorous when he said Friday evening, “Well, there goes your support,” in response to my “I’m the girl that cried wolf,” blog. I am happy to say that by all indications at church today, my support continues unhampered. Thank you all. And thanks to God for how very gentle this trial has been for this period. Yes, it was shocking, and we were absolutely blindsided—but to have such moments of enlightenment and joy in the midst of this has been a great comfort. Also, I have never felt so loved in my life as I do currently. My particular cancerous experiences are surely nicer than others must be—a cancer of the privileged.
There are experiences all throughout my life that consistently exhibit the privileged positions I’ve been in. I will share my favorite. As a background (not my favorite part of the story), my biological father left my family while I was but a babe in the womb. My poor overwhelmed and pregnant mother and bereft brothers, aged 14, 13, and 8 were left to fend on their own, with no money in the bank account but some excellent food storage and a loving extended and ward family.
When I was in high school, I asked my mom if my birth and infancy had been too terribly difficult to deal with at a time such as that. She sucked her breath into her mouth in surprise and said something like, “Oh no, you were never a burden. You gave us great joy in a very dark time.” Then, to make me believe it, because teenagers never trust in their own magnificence, she told me how on the day she brought me home from the hospital, driving the car herself, that my oldest brother, Mike, stopped the car before it could pull into the driveway and got me, his newborn little sister out of the car and carried me to the house. The (I’m sure) heavily embroidered tale continues that he would not let me out of his arms all day long. I cannot tell you how truthful this account really is. I come from a family of resplendent story-tellers, who exaggerate much and to great effect. Naturally, I have no memory of this day. However, it had its desired effect: I have since felt so loved and even privileged, despite the desperate circumstances surrounding my family at the time of my birth.
I have memories of each of my brothers playing with me, being very gentle, kind, patient, and funny. As a small child, I learned ZZ Top songs at Mike and Bryce’s tutelage because I spent so much time near them. And somehow my brother Todd still loves me despite my constant tattling and, shall I say it, glory-stealing. He was once the youngest, you know.
My whole life has been a pattern of good things and gentle parenting from those in charge of me. This is one of the reasons why I was so shocked by the news that I had cancer. Me? Cancer? Glug, glug, went my brain. This is not the way things usually work. I had developed my own patterns of doing things by the book and with obedience, and therefore was getting used to being dealt with easily and even systematically by parents and also by Heavenly Father. The sudden turn of events last week tells me that I am still given a gentle hand. Once more, Tara escapes hardship! May I continue to do so. What have I lost so far? A little time with my left arm maybe, and a strip of nerves on the top of my head from where I was scalped. What have I gained? Gratitude for many things. An appreciation for the small things in life. An altered perspective. I hope a kind of wisdom. A chance to mature and grow in ways specific to me. Better, deeper friendships. Closer and more meaningful family ties. A chance to share my story. The equation comes out in my favor, doesn’t it? Not bad.
To wax very biblical: Isaiah 54: 7—“for a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.” Also, Psalms 40: 1-3—“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”