Every morning I wake expecting a normal and healthy day. Contrary to what you might think, I don’t open my eyes to cancer-tinted daylight. The first thing I hear is generally the happy cooing of my child in contrast to bells tolling sorrowfully for my imminent Poe-like death. In my daily activities, I am careful of not exerting myself too much, but generally feel quite well. In fact, there is still a part of me that is surprised when friends see me at church and ask how I’m doing. Every single time it happens, the VCR in my mind has to spin the tape back to a certain surgical event. And then it automatically stops and plays a specific scene—mostly imaginary—showing my cancer cells now sitting stagnant against my brain, but with the potential for virulent, burgeoning growth.
I appreciate every expressed worry, every heartfelt interest in what’s going on in my life, but I have to admit that it’s a bit of a jolt. It must be that I am an adept at creating my own “just fine” reality. The real surprise came yesterday when I met someone new. I began explaining that I’d had a brain tumor and surgery recently. He didn’t understand what I was saying. There I was, looking as normal as anyone else, standing straight and tall on sturdy legs saying that I had cancer. “Oh wait, the surgery is still coming?” he said. “No. I had it already…” my mind traced furiously back trying to come up with a date, “maybe seven, eight weeks ago?” Okay, the date is actually closer to nine, I think, but you get the picture. The man’s mouth literally dropped open in astonishment. Still gaping, he turned to his wife, already a friend of mine, for confirmation. All she said was, “It’s a miracle.” Yes, that’s the word: Miracle.
In case you were wondering, I don’t feel different even though I know my life is miraculous. I still wake feeling the same as before everything happened: relaxed, warm, a little drowsy, eager for a shower and a new day, and ultimately human. Is it a part of the human condition to wake this way rather than to open our eyes feeling like a miracle?