Last year I got chemo on New Year’s Eve. I remember the nurse asking me what my big plans were. I had to laugh. We actually did attempt to celebrate with some good friends, and good food. But I was tired, and my taste buds were muted, and I was sad.
I cried a lot in 2015. I did my best to keep my tears from my boys. I tried hard to keep them from seeing me so broken. I would force smiles and bursts of energy to meet them at the door, and tried to eat dinner without laying my head down. I cried a lot for them. Because I did not want their mother to be wilted, but I was.
Last month, I had my port removed. While I was sitting in the creepy radiology unit in the basement of the hospital, I remembered a year ago sitting there with Joel, waiting to get my port placed. I remember crying as the nurse explained the process. It was the physical beginning of body being invaded. They were going to put that tiny device inside of me and use it to flood my body with poison. How could I not cry? The nurse talked around my tears. She was used to seeing this pain. This realization.
And sometimes I would cry, not for myself, but for the others who have to endure this journey. I would picture kids waiting in the creepy radiology unit, their scared parents forcing smiles. I would see other young faces tight with worry as their IV machines beeped out of rhythm. And elderly patients looking too tired for this world, their skin strange shades of gray. It all felt like too much. I cried for them, too.
I still cry for them. I still think of the other women I know who are fighting this battle. The mom of three who is preparing for her double mastectomy, her body weak from so much chemo, the energy it takes to smile and play with her kids.
I used to get a lump in my throat as I would drive by Siteman Cancer Center just thinking of all the people in there suffering. That was before I knew exactly what that suffering looks like. Now, it is easier to cry for them.
In 2016, I think I will cry less for myself than I did in 2015. But I might cry more for the world. I knew I was feeling better when I found tears streaming down my face watching a video of the Syrian refugees carrying their children to safety. My own battle is nothing in comparison. A drop of water in an ocean of hurt.
I think it is okay to cry for others. To feel a tiny fraction of their struggle. I believe this is what motivates us to action, and prayer. There is always something we can do. Holding the door, sending a card, making a donation, preparing a meal, whispering a prayer in the wind. We are not powerless. I know this because of you. Because of the ways in which you have healed me.
We are not powerless. If we all put a drop of water in the vase, there will be hope for the flowers.
Is it crazy to say that my new year’s resolution might be to cry more? To be more aware of the suffering around me. And to find ways to add my drop of water to the vase.