The problem with being a writer is, you have your past words to remind you of what you thought before you went through something. I’ve written about suffering, about embracing the cross, about the graces that come with enduring what must be, and that all love is based on sacrifice. Catholicism is beautiful and redemptive and restorative and full of hope and promise in reality, but one must will to embrace it.
Living the day to day minutia of a thousand discomforts, it’s funny but the little ones are the ones that trip me up.
Hair loss? It’s not been so bad really. As long as I wear a cap or a scarf, I forget about it. Double mastectomy? Again, it was part of the cure so I’m good to go. Chemo? Let’s do it. Every day forward is a day towards the cure. All these things, I felt I could just plunge in and endure. Yesterday, I received news I might have diabetes on top of all of this –it’s not confirmed because the chemo meds can mess with sugars. However, I have to stick myself in the morning and test the sugars, and the glucometer is tricky and frustrating. I kind of lost it, no I did lose it, after going through four test strips and five finger pricks.
None of it hurt, just all of it frustrated, and in that moment, in that just annoying frustrating thwarted moment, the damn burst and I cried. Everything felt like ash. All food, all rest, everything wearied. Nothing tasted good, not water, not diet coke, not tea, not juice, I was thirsty and yet couldn’t drink anything without wincing. It made me miserable.
Fortunately, I am not alone. My husband knows this moment from his own journey, and recognized, Sherry is flailing. He’s made a couple of sound tracks for me of music for when my spirit ebbs. Today it’s a combination of Notre Dame music, Rudy, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir, Marching Band, Glee Club and it finishes off with a bagpipe version of Enter the Sandman. It’s a reminder to be strong. It reminds me of when I spent forty-five days at the hospital with Paul. I kept the Rudy soundtrack running to keep my mind calm. He also has a Captain Marvel soundtrack to help me in the morning for the same reason. The theme of both soundtracks is the same, persist and know we love you. It takes several songs to seep through. It’s like I resist listening.
My holding onto frustration is manifested elsewhere too. As the journey has progressed, prayer has felt shallow. I know it’s not on God’s part. I just know I’m distracted. The fifth stick was the damn bursting and I shouted, I cried, I hurt and I sunk. I also know, at the end of it, it was a prayer, like I finally admitted to God, “I’m tired of this.”
My sister had sent me a prayer by Peguy about sleep and surrender and the holiness of it the other day, and that was the cry of the heart in that moment. “I’m tired of this. I’d like to stop having to carry this. I don’t like carrying this. I’m holding on God, but I really don’t like this and I’d like to wake up not tired. I’d like to wake up not weary before the day begins. I didn’t like putting in for sick leave through Thanksgiving. I’d like to feel strong again, I don’t like how much effort everything takes.” And the words floated into my head, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I conceded, I have not been content with the weakness. I had not yet surrendered. Brave face on all things but the little stuff had been a way of muscling, willing through it all, not surrendering. Surrender. Surrender to hope. Surrender to Christ. Trust that the process would yield good fruit and be okay with saying, “I feel broken.” Rest in that broken-ness on Christ’s heart and know He’s got this. I thought of all the attempts at adoration that ended in naps.
Reading over the poem again, the twenty hours I’d spent sleeping now felt like they were more than I knew. My body understood what my spirit did not.
“O night who bathes all wounds
in the only fresh water
and in the only deep water
at Rebecca’s well,
drawn from the deepest well.
Friend of children,
friend and sister
to the young
O night who dresses all wounds
At the well of the Samaritan woman,
you who draw, from the deepest well,
the deepest prayer. ” –Charles Peguy