|My brother, Travis|
I remember feeling the same way sixteen years ago when I found out I had cancer. Everyone, all of life, just kept moving and going and rolling along. People laughed and celebrated and hurried here and there. No one stopped and yet I was stuck, completely frozen in the horror of my present. I wanted to scream, "Can't you just stop for a minute! Don't you know I have cancer?" And internally I did scream, but no one heard. Because that is the nature of life and time. It must march on whether or not we have been suddenly hollowed out.
I didn't ever think that anything would affect me like that again. I certainly never expected cancer to ever be so personal again. Strangely enough, it's even more personal when it isn't you, but someone you love, deeply. When you know what it feels like for everything inside to freeze all at once from a few words, when you know the vice grip of pain and fear around your heart, the way the lungs deflate and become heavier and more dense with each subsequent breath, when the very weight of grief behind your eyes makes crying endless and sleep elusive, you would do anything, anything on this earth to kill the possibility of that moment ever happening to anyone you know, not even your worst enemy.
But I don't have that power, and apparently somehow my DNA is writ in such a way that those who share it must somehow also share my nightmare and my grief. I hate the weight of this cross, of pain and fear and sickness and even death. I've come to rest easy with God on many things, but time and again I have begged, "No more" - after my father, my best friend, my grandmother and still there is no end. So we wait, my mother, my brothers and I. Frozen again. Waiting for answers and options and treatment schedules and test results while all the world buzzes on and around. We wait and we pray without words and believe that there is more than one of us who can fight this beast and win. I'd trade my own fight for any one of theirs.
Instead I will lean into the words I told my brother yesterday. "These are the worst days. There will be other very hard and very crappy days, but these first days of knowing are the hardest. It will get easier from here."
I will believe I told the truth.