About a year and a half ago, as I was about to start chemotherapy treatments, my daughter shaved my head in preparation for the coming hair loss. Her little children watched the whole haircut with limited interest. When it was all done, my little 7-year-old granddaughter climbed up on my lap, threw her little arms around my neck, and said, “You’re still pretty, Grandma.” Then my husband came and sat by me, putting his head next to mine. Little Autumn stood back so she could see both of us well, then said, “You and grandpa look just like twins! I can’t even tell you apart!” Earlier in life this might have seemed like a strange comment, but with the unexpected course life has taken, she actually was quite right!
Our story started out like so many others in this room: Rick and I both graduated from Skyline, went to college, got married, had a few children (four, to be exact), worked hard, grew older, gained in-law children, and had grandchildren. And through it all, we had wonderful, amazing experiences along with heart wrenching, difficult experiences. In our very happy version of life, the sky was mostly blue and sometimes there were clouds that came and went.
About three years ago, a big cloud came along. I was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. I had surgery and spent 6 months having chemotherapy, and battled that cancer into remission. We felt especially blessed when that big, scary cloud cleared away.
But a different version of the cloud came back a year-and-a-half ago, when I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It had already spread to my spine and my sternum, so I had surgery, then radiation, then chemotherapy. The cloud got bigger when we found out a few months later the cancer had spread again, this time to multiple spots on my ribs and my hips. And three months ago, it spread to my brain, leaving me with 3 brain tumors.
This big cloud just gets bigger and bigger and it isn’t going away anytime soon, I’m afraid. It appears to be here to stay. I undergo appropriate treatments in the hope that I will have more happy, not-too-sick days and I believe they will come.
Many, many years ago, I recall hearing Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Kennedy Family, say, “Whenever a tragedy happens in our family, I never curse God and ask Him why this happened to me? To us? And in the same way, whenever great blessings come into our family, I never ask God, why has this happened to me? To us?”
I loved that the first time I heard it, and I love it still. Our family has had unimaginable, remarkable, awe-inspiring blessings and miracles. There have been so many, we can’t even begin to catalog them and try to keep track. It’s impossible. The blessings have been SO MUCH GREATER than the challenges, it is almost unbelievable.
Sometimes it seems like everything about this world is awful, but I have found that there is so much good if I just open my eyes and look for it. I believe that no matter who you are, no matter what your situation, everyone single person can “be the good” in someone else’s life.