Exquisite and Excruciating

There is a great scene in A League of Their Own: Tom Hanks is railing at Geena Davis for quitting the Women’s Baseball League just when they need her the most.

“It got too hard,” Davis says.

“Of course it’s hard; that’s what makes it great!” Hanks responds.

For most writers, opening up a wound and pouring it out for a reader is a very difficult thing. It’s easy to opine, and it is easy to instruct when the opinions and the instructions are culled from our brains and our passions, and cost us nothing.

But when it costs us something, that’s when a piece really makes a mark; it is when greatness gets tapped.

Pondering the notion proffered by Pat Robertson — that one may divorce a spouse with Alzheimers (which will just help people justify divorce for lesser “medical” considerations) — Pat Gohn writes what she knows; she invites us in to a profoundly personal moment in her marriage, and takes it from there:

My un-bandaged body after breast cancer certainly made for some interesting pillow talk between my husband and myself.

Going into the crisis long ago, we barely considered what it would mean for our love. But when I was done with all the treatment, the question lingered unspoken in the air — what would our marriage look like? Stranger still, what would it feel like?

I knew he loved me before all the surgeries. Fourteen happy years and three children assured me of that. But we had never really, really been tested by the experience of heartache, loss and fear that a cancer diagnosis brings.

In the aftermath, I could not begin to fathom what our intimate moments might be like, now that I had been surgically taken apart and permanently altered.

Yeah. It’s hard. That’s what makes it great.

You’ll want to read the whole thing.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Greta

    Wonderful piece of writing. As Anchoress says, writing about painful parts of ones life is not easy. In my 77 years starting in the Depression and going through WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now the war on terror, one gets use to struggles and each time we believe we have been taken to our lowest point and things could never get more painful. In each of those wars, I have lost a loved one or had them return severly damaged physically or mentally. I lost a brother and uncle in WWII, a cousin in Korea, a nephew in Vietnam and another who came back an empty shell, and finally a grandson in Iraq. Every one of them joined voluntarily to go to serve their country. And so I thought the pain was paid in full but there was another cross to carry.

    In 1973, the supreme court in another lie, discovered the right to kill babies and that every state in the union had to accept it as law. I had been worried about something like this as I saw the slide toward degenerate behavior. I witnessed the attack from within the Catholic Church on the Pope for writing Humane Vitae and wondered who these people were in the Church of my lifetime. Did they not read what the Pope, led by the Holy Spirit and protected in matters of faith an morals had written? Did they not see that wide acceptance and use of birth control would lead to in our world? The Pope had certainly laid it out for all to see and every part of what he wrote so long ago has come true in detail. Everyone said he was a fool and no way any of that would take place. Roe showed them how wrong they were. Wide spread pornography into a industry with hundreds of billions of dollars of profits shows he was right.

    The cross for me would come when I got a call from my son telling me my grandaughter was dead. My first thought was a horrible car accident. She was a child most of us believed would end up in a convent and very close to God. She was so giving and loving that she was open game for the worse type of people in our society who take advantage of just this type of person. She worked part time in a local resturant to help build up a college fund. The slime was a cook who whined to her about his sad life. We never knew that he was that close. When she became pregnant, he took her to an abortion mill and lied about her age. He was 25 years old and when they met she was 16. The abortion went very wrong and the abortion mill did nothing but watch her die. They had no notified the parents that their daughter was in for medical services. Had this been a hospital, they would have called right away. We later learned that this abortion mill had several of these incidents but that there was little that could be done as they were protected by laws put in place by the party of abortion, the democrats. While Roe was hailed as making abortion safe rather than back alleys, we have all seen over the years that this is far from true. We saw this again in Philadelphia just recently. Nothing is to get in the way of their profits which the abortion mills use to fund the pro murder politicians who make sure they can stay open and unrestricted. There have been over a hundred bills presented to try to make changes to force safety and notification of parents and every one of them has been attacked by the democratic party. when a judge comes up for advise and consent, the Democrats make it well known that protecting abortion is their main goal. If a judge is not clearly pro abortion, they will try to BORK them as they did with Justice Bork.

    I was born during the term of FDR who was aware that blacks were being lynched and had winked he would support a anti lynching law in his first term. In office, despite a strong push by the First Lady, FDR was not willing to go against his Democratic Party jepardizing his progressive agenda to stop the killing or terrorizing of blacks. So in my lifetime, I have been at odds with the Democratic Party. On every major moral crisis that Party has been on the wrong side. I believe that this Party killed my grandaughter and tens of millions of children as surely as if they had pulled out a gun or set up a gas chamber. When you start a party out that supports slavery, when you finally end that with a war, it seems like we should have banned that party from existence as we did the Nazi party at the end of WWII. It took another 100 years to drag that party to stop Jim Crow, segregation, KKK, lynching, terror, and everything they could to keep the former slaves from gaining equality. Of course less than a decade later, that party had discovered another way to kill with Roe and it is no surprise that they are lined up to keep it going, protected, funded, and legal. It is also no surprise that the party also attacks marriage and families with distortions about one man and one woman as the basis of marriage as defined by God’s creation of woman and man to sustain human life. It is no surprise to see our VP go to China and support their forced abortions one child program. It is not surprising to see this party support sending federal money to those not only in need, but in many ways designed for those who do everything wrong as if it is some type of reward for bad behavior while seeking to punish those who lived their life, worked hard, and been successful as a result. Reward eating cheese and you will have millions of cheese addicts. Reward having children outside marriage and you will have more children outside marriage. Reward not working and you will have more not working. This is why making these decisions far away in Washington by big government programs makes zero sense. Of course fighting religious beliefs and values and trying to separate them from how we run our government makes no sense at all and was the opposite of what the founders intended when they clearly wrote we needed to have a free religious people protected from government actions. Ever notice that the party of slavery is wrong on all these moral issues…every one.

    Sorry this is long, but reading this story brought up my personal pain and while it has been ongoing and plentiful in my life, on the whole I have been blessed because for most of my life, America was indeed one nation under God. It is why those of us who remember need to fight against those who want something far different than the founders. My life is near its end as I have news this week of disease that will end that life. It will be long and painful, but at its end, I hope that I am welcomed home and pray that on that day I can see my grandaughter once more and forever. She will be the first I seek out after my Lord.

  • Chris-2-4

    “There’s no crying in baseball!”

    Alas, in marriage, if it is to survive, there is much crying.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00442985285647041700 Melody

    Greta, I am so sorry to hear of your news. You will be in my prayers.

  • Carol S.

    I will never, ever forget my husband emptying my lymph fluid drains for weeks after my BC surgery every night, sometimes at 3am. He was also remarkably upbeat and positive thinking about my prognosis(as I despaired daily!), not his usual doom and gloom at bad news. It was and is a wonderful memory. We have talked about it over these past 11 yrs.and both agree it glued us together.I know that doesn’t always happen, I thank God it did for us. God finds a way to bring good out of bad. Thanks for the essay Elizabeth! As always a light in the darkness!

  • Greta

    A very good friend called me tonight after reading this post from Anchoress. She had breast cancer and had massive surgery. It really hit home with her and she also as with Carol S. above, has to go through the massaging to drain her lymph fluid and having her arms encased in tight wraps. As I understand, she will do this for the rest of her life because she has lymphedema. I think that is the right term. Her husband has also been a real hero in this entire battle. Together they have shown the wonder of their marriage, but also how close both are to Christ and His Mother Mary. She has a strong prayer group in her community and parish and she believes she is alive today for a purpose as a result of all their prayers. She also is a victim of abortion as she had one when she was 18 years old and also the victim of a slime ball who she thought she was helping. She is one of many who have early abortions and later develop breast cancer. Add her to your prayer list.

  • Araceli

    This is off-topic, Anchoress, but I hope you will help.

    A friend is starting to teach Cathechism for 7th and 8th graders preparatory to Confirmation. She intends to talk about patron saints since the children will have to choose patron saints for themselves at Confirmation.

    Some time ago you wrote about a Catholic website that allowed the user to pick a patron saint for a year. Can you give me the name of the website? By the way, I tried it, and got St. Michael the Archangel, which was so outstandingly appropriate it made me laugh.

  • Doc

    God Bless you, Greta. May the crosses you’ve had to bear be a ladder to Christ for you.

  • Elaine S.

    Greta, I am so sorry to hear of all you have suffered. One of the things that has helped me (in the much smaller crosses I have had to bear) is knowing that pain or deprivation of any kind can be offered up as a prayer or sacrifice for others who are suffering more.

    I had gallbladder surgery earlier this week, which went well and I am home recovering. Just before my operation I discovered that a friend of mine was scheduled for cancer surgery the very same day. I made it a point to offer up any pain or anxiety I experienced on the day of my surgery for her. Last I heard she was doing well so I guess it helped.

  • Margaret

    Araceli, I think the Anchoress is still on retreat. In the meantime, here is a site that picks a saint for you. I don’t remember if it is the same one that the Anchoress used, but it is at least similar:


  • SKAY

    You will be in my prayers Greta. You are a special lady and I always look forward to reading your comments.

  • Greta

    thanks for the kind words. But just wanted to make sure I add that I am blessed far beyond anything I could have wished for in life. Why? Because my parents had me baptised when I was a day old which gave me the Catholic Church in all its wonder and glory. Every time there has been a little trouble, Jesus seemed to me to be very close with a broad shoulder. Over the 77 years of being Catholic, I have witnessed a lot of very crazy things, but not a single one has even dented a faith given to me by the sheer grace of God. I was blessed with a mom who knew how to love each of us and a dad who taught us to stand up for what we believed and to fight hard to preserve the teaching of the Catholic Church and the US Constitution. He use to teach us the faith and the Constitution at our dinner table each night and his constant theme was that you cannot separate the two of them. Without faith, we were useless as citizens for the faith gave us the true north for eternity and the US Constitution was written for people of strong faith in God. Remember, these lessons were taught without electric light, but by a lamp and came during a time when many were questioning if America would survive the Depression. So I am blessed that my parents cared for me, the Catholic Church, and America. When I had kids, we sat each night at the kitchen table with electric light and many other wonders and my kids learned the same lessons. It was the firm belief and the near pressence of Jesus Christ that held my shaking hands and wiped away the tears at everything bad that ever happened in my life. I can’t imagine trying to get through life alone. I can’t imagine living in a country not free and united to God. So learn what the Church actually teaches, what the Constitution actually says, and pray that you are not involved in tearing them down or failing to stand up to those who want to do so. I am a very tolerant person with a deep humility built by close self examination every week followed by the Sacrament of Pennance. (I know, Reconcilliation, but give me a break as I am an old dog) If you do this at least once a month, humility follows. I also have to laugh at those who say stating the truths of the Catholic Church and the US Consititution are being judgemental. No, everyone is not a Catholic, but that does not mean these truths change so you can squeeze by and get along. That is one thing I like about The Anchoress. She is quite fiesty when she has to be, and despite living in the belly of the beast in liberal country, she has converted to the correct side with only a slight sign of the old infection popping up once in a while. Too bad she had not sat with by Papa under that flickering lamp to here the truth from the time she could walk. I love that gal because she is not afraid to come out for the truth and often makes me stop and think, even with my less than formidable brain which I blame on age. So I will sign off and go see my Lord and His Mother. You see, we share that in common as my mom was named Mary as well. We need our hour together twice a day and have done so all my life. Never walk alone, because Satan watches for those who do so.

  • Araceli

    Thank you very much, Margaret. I’ll try it.