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Small Favors

July 30, 2013

Today has been another good day…..thank God for small favors! Will and I were out and about today, picked up my sister for a visit, and even ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Amazing how we used to take these normal, enjoyable activities for granted……..before the words pancreatic cancer became part of our lives only one short week ago.

In fact, today has been SO normal and enjoyable that I haven’t cried even once. Will’s infectious optimism has begun to spill over onto me, and even though he faces a rather scary procedure tomorrow—and the official diagnosis on Thursday—he is living each day, each hour as if he’s going to be here for another sixty-two years.

In the meantime, I have been seeking the counsel of women who have walked this lonesome valley and come out on the other side forever changed, but stronger than they ever thought possible. I feel an almost desperate need to drink—no, gulp from the well of their wisdom, for I never once foresaw these events and thus have no real idea of how a woman living in the shadow of her husband’s cancer is supposed to conduct herself.

There are always the classic Hollywood versions, like the tragic heroine of countless dramas who faces the loss of her lover with strength and courage. The grim-faced widow plowing a field with a yoke around her neck (because she had to sell the horse to keep the farm). The elderly lady all in black, her gnarled hand gripping a wooden cane as she is led away from a fresh grave by one of her middle-aged children.

Then, there’s me. Not a widow, to be sure—and I pray to God I won’t be anytime soon!—but suddenly it’s become all too easy to imagine, and none of those scenarios fits me at all. I like to think that if I must face the worst, I will do it with dignity and not become one of those hysterical females who have to be sedated just to get through the formalities.

So why is it that every time I even THINK about the possibility, I want to throw up??

My rebellious spirit protests, even as I listen to my husband struggle with his own nausea, that I’m too young for this. For that matter, neither of us should have to deal with it for at least another two decades…….why now, when we’ve finally gotten all the kids grown and they’ve settled into their own lives? When it’s finally our time to be just husband and wife again? It’s not FAIR!

But ‘fair’ doesn’t enter into this picture, and I know it. Life isn’t, and indeed has never been fair; in fact, I’ve told people for years that “life is tough, get a helmet”. What I didn’t know until a week ago is that they don’t make helmets strong enough to protect us from the epic events that turn our lives upside down and our souls inside out.

So I’m grateful for the small favors and graces that we receive, even as more tests and a potentially devastating diagnosis loom over us. Today was another of the good days, even if it did end with a painful and embarrassing reminder that we are far from out of the woods. And like every other day of this journey, we’ll have to let tomorrow take care of itself.

 

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