And I’ve been real quiet haven’t I?
I’ve been real quiet because I’ve been real hurting and I haven’t known how to quantify the real pain into real words. Because she called me on a Saturday when the biggest winter blizzard in decades was blowing over our heads and through her intuitive tears told me she had found a lump in her breast. And just like that my heart fell down to the floor because this is the girl whose soul is stitched into my rib bones and we share every little atom of life – raising our boys side-by-side, telling each other secrets, supporting and struggling and sticking together in spite of all the things that life can hurl at a person and when she gets scared? My God, if I don’t know the feeling like it’s manifesting right inside my own skin. So we prayed together across phone wires, saying the “please God, no” and hanging onto hope for benign, taking deep breaths like we were starving for them.
But, something in her must’ve known.
Yes, I think she knew. Because less then a month, a mammogram and biopsy later that mass she felt in her breast was cancer, additionally tested and found “aggressive”. She’s only 36 and it hurts so big for me to witness this. All I want is for her to get over here and pour out her pain into my hands so I can press it against my chest and run all the way to the far side of the earth, throw that hurt off the edge and watch it plummet headlong towards some bottomless abyss. But that is just my imagination talking and I’m left with a slow walk back to reality and that thing I wanted to fling is a lead burden filling up my limbs, making me be heavy all over. A part of me feels like it would be easier to go through cancer myself then watch how this fire will make her burn. I would do it, you know. I would absorb every microscopic bit of disease to spare her the months of agony – chemo, surgery, radiation and the whole sweeping panorama of side effects. Lord knows I can’t do that. But she did give us the key to her surviving and thriving when 30 of us circled around her as a community to lay prayer-hands on her face and hair and neck and spine and arms and fingers and blue jeans – we covered all the spaces and couldn’t get close enough this time and we told her that for better of for worse *WE* have cancer and it’s an honor and privilege to be trusted with her daily care. We’re gonna stick our fingers in her veins and tie our blood tighter together and just you wait and watch what we can do because we’re standing arm in arm like a ferocious and united human shield around her body. Watch us wear her burden on our backs and stare down this death-maker duel-style while we move and rhythm ourselves all the way in the opposite spirit of it. And by “opposite spirit”, I mean: as a people we’re gonna show this disease what it really means to be alive.
Also: I want you to know something else about this lady; what kind of woman she is and why I wish you could look at her in the midst of the mess and sorrow. Because I’ve never known anyone who digs into life deeper so she can stand taller and reach higher and spread her arms and heart wider and every tough situation I’ve seen her go through? Well, she has just come out so shining, with Kingdom glory on her face and wisdom beaming from stem to stern and compassion extending to the tips of all her digits. And before she ever knew she had cancer, the Spirit whispered the word JOY over her year, told her it would be the lens by which she would see anything in the coming days (how timely and crazy is that?) and my own ears have heard the words from her lips again and again these past weeks: “I choose JOY”.
Would you pray with us? Maybe just a tiny inhale and exhale filled with good and God-full intention would be enough on your part. Or, more then just that if you are so inclined. Her name is Jen, but we know her as Liberty . . . So maybe your prayer could be for her freedom from all this some day.