I don’t have cancer (at least, not that I’m aware of). But cancer has been particularly brutal to those that I love and care about lately. I’ve been filled with such a swirl of emotions that I’ve really had a lot to process.
In the last seven days I received word that one of my sweetest and most wonderful friends, Stephanie, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. Stephanie was my first real “mom friend”. We met when she moved into my town in Oregon when both of us had two-year-old daughters plus another baby. The first day we met we had on the same dropped-waist corduroy dress from Eddie Bauer (mine was burgundy, hers was dark green). I knew we would be friends and we still are. She’s one of those people that always runs and makes healthy choices, not like some people (ahem, Mountain Dew addiction) so it’s a real stunner that her health has been compromised. She has four children and it’s just all wrong.
Also this week, the ten-year-old son of another dear friend passed away after a short battle with Leukemia. The loss of a child is never happy under any circumstances, but Wyatt and his family had been getting ready to go on a much-needed relaxing cruise. Instead they had to stay home and arrange hospice care. So much heartbreak. I look at my babies and wonder what future tragedies will befall them. I want to gather them close and protect them from all the pain and heartache. But that’s not a mom’s job, even though every mom wishes it were possible.
On Thursday a friend down the street passed away after a struggle with breast cancer. Her son and daughter were the same ages as my youngest son and daughter and we have so many fun memories of double playdates. My friend’s struggle has been a long one. They suspected the end might be near, though, and wondered if she would be able to make it to her son’s fifth grade graduation ceremony which will be next week. In the end, the school surprised her with a little graduation ceremony for her son and a few of his buddies a couple of weeks ago. Such a compassionate gesture that ended up being perfect and timely.
All this heartache and grief has been pressed together side-by-side with so much happiness. We’re so thrilled for Finn and his decision to go on a mission (for several years he told us there is no way it would happen). And we got the flight info for York to come home from Brazil (there will be about three weeks when both boys will be home and the whole family will be together!) I’ve kind of had emotional whiplash this week.
All I know is that God is good. He’s not some master puppeteer that decides on every little things that happens to us. We happen to live in crappy world where things just go wrong a lot. It doesn’t take any planing on God’s part to make that happen. But God does have the ability to take any horrible, rotten, disastrous thing and turn it into something that will help us grow and become amazing. Not every bad experience will do that, or every person in this world would be overflowing with wisdom and compassion. But we can turn to God and ask how to make the anguish into something beautiful. He’ll show us how rub away the rough edges and make us the best version of ourselves. That never feels good while it’s happening but it’s all about making us sparkle for eternity.
I don’t know what will happen with Stephanie, or how Wyatt’s parents will possibly go on living without their boy. But I do know that there is joy in this world. There are happy times as well as sad times. Our Father in Heaven does love us and bad things don’t mean He doesn’t. We’ve all got to take a separate journey to find that out for ourselves. You can believe what I’m saying but you’ll have to take your own journey to know.