Last week found me sobbing into my husband’s shoulder, weak, achy, with tender feet and tender soul, asking why, why must there be suffering in the world – and can we please, please stop the chemo? (He agreed.) It all was so heavy on my shoulders, and the overwhelming fatigue made it all almost too much to bear.
Yesterday, I asked God my questions, and I begged to understand. I accept the suffering if need be, I said, but I do not yet understand why it is, or what its purpose may be. I struggle, and I am not grateful for the cancer. I am not serene, and I am not accepting of the failings of my own body, as my yoga teacher urged after my first diagnosis. I still fight, and I still rail against the illness and the failures on the structural level of my cells.
This morning, after exhausting myself getting the kids ready for school, I had a short rest and then found the strength to go to a meeting on work-life balance, to grab a new aquarium filter at the fish store, and to venture out to the Lego Store at Tyson’s Corner (really!) in search of a gift for the cousins. All that today, and tonight I bopped into RCIA (Bible Study for Catholics-to-be) right on time, much to Sister’s surprise. (I had warned her last week that I was feeling awful, and that I would most likely not be there this week. She had reassured me that if I weren’t there, she would come by and catch me up and bring me Eucharist Tuesday morning.) Well, missing class never even crossed my mind. I drove myself there for the first time in weeks, and had no problems at all.
And to my surprise? I was asked to play a part in next week’s Rite of Acceptance/Welcome for my classmates next week. I’ll be presenting the potential new members to the priest, and reading the prayers at the end of the rite.
And as I drove Sister home, she shared with me that she does not fully understand suffering either. She doesn’t know why we here on Earth have to hurt, and she doesn’t know what its purpose is or how it brings us closer to God. All she knows, she said, is to offer it up to God, saying, “Lord, please take this suffering, and use it for your people.”
And so, tonight, I pray, “Lord, please take this suffering, and use it for your people,” and I thank God that he gave me the strength to be there today, and to come back and tell you exactly what happened. One day, when my children ask, “Why didn’t my mother fight the cancer harder?” I ask that you tell them, “She did, honey, she did,” and also, “Your mama also trusted in God. She prayed for healing, and for her aches and pains to have a purpose.”