Children are so honest.
A couple of mornings ago, my five year old daughter, Selah, shared that she had a dream with me in it, but it was the “regular Mommy” who was in the dream with her. She then shared, in her matter-of-fact way, that when she woke up she was happy because it was “regular Mommy” in the dream.
“Regular Mommy” is what Selah calls pre-cancer Mommy. Mommy with hair. Mommy with energy. Healthy Mommy.
And now, as I remember this, tears fill my eyes because I, too, wish “regular Mommy” was back.
Right now, I’m in the “feeling good” part of my cycle. My days are filled with pretty normal things. Errands. Grocery shopping. Pool days with friends. Other than having less stamina and my head covering on, the outside life could seem pretty normal.
I pray these days feel normal for my children because life surely isn’t normal during the ten days after chemo when I’m homebound and in bed. I’m trying my hardest to make these days as carefree and fun as possible. And I’m trying my hardest to forget, even if for a few minutes, about the black cloud of cancer.
But of course I can’t forget. All it takes is a glance in the mirror to remind me that I’m sick. That I’m in the middle, well not even quite the middle yet; of a LONG journey back to “regular Mommy”.
I was sharing with Justin last night, and after he lovingly listened to how I’ve been struggling he made the perfect analogy to the way I’ve been feeling.
He said it’s like I’m in the middle of a marathon.
I remember running the Country Music Half Marathon with my sister last April. It’s a huge race. There was so much energy at the starting line, as thousands of runners lined up to start the race in waves. I was so pumped up and just ready to DO IT! We’d been training for months and I couldn’t wait to start running.
So then we started running, and the first few miles were so easy! The momentum from the starting line carried us through and we felt really great. Then came mile six. and seven. and eight. Whoa.
By that time of day, the sun was beating down on us, and the course had us running down a less-than-scenic part of town with NO shade. And it was hilly. Rolling hill after rolling hill, after rolling hill. And the daunting part was that as we ran ahead, we could see the runners off in the distance running up and down the hills, which seemed endless. As we were huffing and puffing up one hill, just one glance ahead reminded us that it wasn’t going to get any easier any time soon. We pushed through, and finally had the joy and energy of the finish line!
That’s exactly how I feel at this point in my journey. The middle of the marathon is so often the hardest part.
Right after my diagnosis, in the beginning of my journey I was all: “Let’s DO THIS!” “I’ve SO got this!” “I’m ready to kick cancer in the teeth!” There was a lot of energy and momentum as the fighter warrior came out in me.
But now, those first few miles are behind me, and all I see are hills ahead.
Hill after hill, after hill. The reality that this is my “new normal” is setting in.
I now have no idealistic notions about how it won’t be “that hard”. I KNOW the reality of what it’s like. And I still have four more chemo treatments. Then surgery. Then radiation. Then more herceptin infusions.
At best, “regular Mommy” will return about a year after that one phone call took her away.
My hope, joy, and peace? It’s not in regular Mommy returning. It can’t be! If that’s where I put all of my hope, joy, and peace, what would happen if something unexpected happened? What would happen if the cancer came back, or didn’t respond to chemo, or any number of devastating possibilities that happen to cancer patients every day.
The Lord is teaching me, as I process this part of the journey, that my hope, joy, and peace has to be in JESUS ALONE. There have been days that as I lay in bed, feeling terrible, that I envision a year from today feeling healthy and good, and back to normal. Putting this cancer nightmare behind me and never looking back. I can easily get into the midset that THAT’s what I have to look forward to….and I just need to “get through this”.
But I can’t stay there.
My hope, joy, and peace – the ROCK under my feet has to be on something more solid than the sinking sand of “kicking cancer in the teeth”. “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”.
Jesus, the unchanging One. The One who wrote every day of mine before it was even lived. The One through whose loving fingertips has EVERY circumstance in my life been filtered. The Lord gently reminds me that He’s in this tough part of the journey with me. Even on the days I don’t FEEL His presence, part of faith is knowing and believing with everything I have that He IS with me. He’s was in the energetic start, He will be at the glorious finish, but most importantly He’s in the difficult middle of this cancer race.
Jesus-He’s my ROCK and my running buddy….up and down the cancer hills. The middle matters, and I’m thankful I don’t run alone.