Life is complicated.
Full of out-of-reach dreams and in-your-face commitments. We are busy with bosses and deadlines and spouses and kids and extended family obligations. Even time with friends doesn’t always come baggage-free. Throw in a few hormonal teens, an excess of extra-curricular activities, an aging pet, and piles of laundry and dishes that never deplete, and peace feels far-fetched.
Sometimes I want off the Tilt-a-Wheel.
Sometimes I need to be more careful what I ask for.
Want to know a sure way to find perspective in less than half a second?
Wake up in the storm of serious illness.
Life stops. Everything going on around you fades. Because all those complications just became irrelevant.
My blog has been silent these last few months, minus a post or two. Up until the last few weeks, I’ve been silent too. Now I’m ready to tell you why. Not because I want sympathy or pity or an “I’m-praying-for-you” comment fest, but because I wrote a challenge a while ago about being transparent.
Here’s an excerpt from my 2012 Christmas Letter:
What doesn’t get put in Christmas letters are the struggles. The events that hit the hardest. The moments that brought life-altering decisions. The impact that forced the most personal change.
I find it interesting that we don’t share our struggles and our triumphs over them. Those stories would inspire instead of defeat. Those stories would bring hope instead of despair. As a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, I know I’ve failed. Now I want to know there is redemption. (If you want to read the entire letter, the link is HERE.)
One word stilled my Tilt-a-Whirl life. You know the proverbial fork in the road? That single word sent it crashing down in front of me. Not in a choice as to which way I would walk, but as a Mt. Everest barricade.
A sick feeling twisted my stomach. “Anything else, Lord.” I dropped to my knees on my bedroom carpet. “I’ll do anything else. But not this.”
Yes. This. His voice whispered across my heart. Remember your challenge? Are you still willing to be transparent?
“I don’t know.” I crawled to the couch, clicked on Netflix, and got lost in Grey’s Anatomy. For 57 episodes.
I asked if you were willing to be transparent. A gentle poke had me push pause on the remote.
“I don’t know, Lord. Maybe.” I limped from the couch to my comfy bed and curled up under the flannel sheets and read my way through the bestseller list on Kindle.
What about your challenge? The reminder came quietly.
My heart squeezed and I pulled the comforter over my head. “I think I need to clean out the closet under the stairs. I should repaint Maddy’s room and go through all the old photo albums and —”
How long are you going to hide? His words stopped my ramble.
Hiding. I’m not hiding.
You are hiding. Do you want to escape or be real?
As a writing coach, I’ve spent the last three years teaching people how to tell their stories in a way that will effectively impact the lives of others. New writers don’t always know how to structure their thoughts into words and paragraphs and pages. They don’t know how to get across what they’re feeling.
But I do.
Someone once asked me if my blog posts are cathartic. In a way, yes. I’m a writer. When I’m stressed, I write. When I’m excited, I write. Words are my release. But I’ve always believed that we go through hardships for a reason. If I can’t turn around and encourage those behind me, what good is my journey?
Some days I think my story doesn’t matter.
Other days, I’m convinced it does.
Every day I want to be real.
I’m ready. I’m ready to share. I haven’t written The End. Not yet. Because I’m still stuck behind that huge fork. My upcoming blogs may not be the most eloquent, but each post will be transparent. If I can reach out and steady someone else, being transparent will be worth it.
So here it goes. That word that changed our entire lives in half a heartbeat?
I’m a Cancer Mom. I’ve never had cancer. I’ve never had my body turn against me. I’ve never suffered from the poison of chemo and radiation.
But I’ve watched my son suffer.
The first time Kyle battled leukemia, the war lasted three-and-a-half years. That’s 42 months or 168 weeks or 1,176 days of muscle pain and nausea and weight loss and rashes and mouth sores and fatigue and fear.
Not every day was bad. But most days weren’t great.
This time, he’ll have to fight another two years. Two years of putting our lives on hold. He’s had to drop out of nursing school and come home. He’s had to say goodbye to the friends that are moving forward without him. He’s had to revisit that place none of us ever wanted to go.
I am a Cancer Mom. And I’d like to share my journey.
*This article was originally written/published by the author under the title “Surviving the Storm.”