The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

In Search of Peace

on August 16, 2010

It might seem strange, but getting cancer has been a gift of sorts. A gift that I would rather not have received none the less, but a gift.

Think about how you would act right now, if you knew this morning, that you were going to die tonight. You might break into tears, but you wouldn’t waste any of your time crying. You wouldn’t have time for many tears.

What would you do? I’m sure if your spouse was next to you, you would reach over and hold him/her for a minute or two, drawing strength from just their embrace. Your next step would be to hold onto your children, wondering how they will make it in life, without you there – to chauffer, to console, to motivate, to arbitrate, to cook and to insist they do their home work, brush their teeth and sleep.

I’m willing to bet, that as a Catholic, and after the initial shock of the news that tonight you leave mortal life behind, your next thoughts would turn to the here after. You’d look at the kitchen calendar. When was my last confession? Did I go before First Friday this month? Last month? When? How do I schedule a confession when it isn’t a Saturday? Can I schedule it for the same day that I call in?

And if the answer to the last question was no, I bet this is one time that you would not accept “no” for an answer.

Would you go to mass and communion? Would you keep watch in front of the tabernacle? Would you commune with the sacramental Jesus; Jesus really with us, body and blood, soul and divinity?

Eventually, you would have to return home to your puzzled family that has already begun to grieve. “Why Mommy? Why is it you that is going to die? We pray, is God mad at us? Did I do something wrong?” Because just like when parents divorce, when a parent becomes critically ill, children blame themselves. When they disobey, did that make Mommy sick? When they fight, did that stress make Mommy sick? Was their birth the cause of Mommy becoming sick?

So you will have to explain to your children, that no, God isn’t mad at the family, even though you wonder yourself why you are the one. You will have to gather your children and comfort them and make them understand that they did nothing wrong. That their birth was one of the best days of your life.

Then what do you do? You spend every minute that you can with them. You play the games they love, and no matter how tired you are, you get off the couch to see whatever wonder it is that they want you to see. You squeeze as many minutes into every hour that you can.

Cancer was my herald that I didn’t have the unlimited time that I thought stretched ahead of me. I don’t have an “expiration” date, but I know my “shelf life” is limited and that knowledge is a blessing. It is what makes me get off the couch to take neighborhood walks with my kids when I’m tired. It is what makes me go to bed at a reasonable hour, so that I can be awake the minute my children are the next day. I don’t waste a minute.

Cancer is the reason that I not only take pictures, and allow pictures of myself to be taken, but also get them dowloaded, printed and into albums with captions.

It’s what makes me not take “life” too seriously, not sweat the small stuff, and not allow people, even family members, to draw me into dramas. I desire peace in my final days.

Cancer has made me drag myself out of bed no matter how tired I am, and get to mass. It makes me listen more closely to the sermon. Worship more conscientiously the Eucharistic Jesus. Find comfort in the common sense of the Gospel.

Cancer has made me start saying The Morning Offering every morning, as the Dominican’s tuaght me over 40 years ago. “Oh Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my joys and sufferings of this day, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer it in restitution of sins against the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in restitution for my sins and the sins of my family, and for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I ask for grace sufficient for the day, and do not let me be ignorant of the graces given by Christ my Lord. Amen.”

In other words, cancer has made me do better, what I should have been doing anyway!


One response to “In Search of Peace

  1. Peggy says:

    Blessings dear Carol… good reflections… I just want to send you to someone else’s blog, that just found out about the big ‘C’ and allow you to read her words and maybe the two of you could share (though different Cs):
    with Elaine at Peace for the Journey

    I just saw that your post was In Search of Peace…and I thought this may help!

    We’re still lifting you in prayer over at The Lighthouse of Prayer…

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