Beauty in the Brokenness

andy 6Sometimes I look at elderly people with a such a sense of awe.  How did they make it through all of this?  How did they survive the million and one things that can wrong in this life? How did they get so lucky?

The past couple of weeks I have been hearing stories about cancers coming back. Brave, lovely people that survived the crushing realities of cancer once already,  now have to put the gloves back on and fight it again.  I can’t help but personally respond to these stories.  The thought of the doctors putting a port back in my body, the thought of managing the weight of chemo from the couch while my kids whirl around me again . . . it steals my breath.  When you know the intimate details of cancer, you know the dragon you must slay.  You understand how it’s breath will melt your energy, how it’s claws will cripple your body, how it’s angry eyes will bend your knees.  You know your battle.

I remember once when I was sick envisioning cancer as a dragon.  As a beast that I must slay.  But that metaphor didn’t resonate with me at that particular moment on my journey.  I did not have the energy to fight, I did not possess the heart to try and kill anything.  So I started picturing myself kneeling down before the beast with my eyes closed and my arms open.  As if to say, I am no longer fighting you with a sword.  I am no longer fighting you with my fists.  I will let you find me here in this place of utter vulnerability and I will let you get as close to me as you can,  I will surrender to you.  But not in the way where I let you win.  In the way that I say to you, “I am no longer afraid.”

And that did something for me.  It didn’t mean that I was okay with dying.  It didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to do everything possible to get better to raise my boys.  It just meant that I didn’t want to fight, and I didn’t want to run away.  I just wanted to kneel down and open myself up, and trust that this dragon would circle me, smell me, nudge me with its nose, and then walk away.

Knowing that there are people who have to watch this beast walk back into their view, makes me hang my head.  How will you do this again? The type of anger that has the potential to well up. . . could choke us.

Cancer has kids chained to hospital beds, too.  Instead of building sand castles and playing soccer and making mistakes they are learning words like radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow, and watching sticky liquids that steal their spark drip into their veins.  How can we survive this? How can we make sense of this?

Andy celebrated being 6 at the ocean last week.  We drove 12 hours on his birthday and he got to open a present up at every rest stop.  When we finally arrived to our house that lined the beach he ran into the ocean with his brother and their friends and they laughed and let the sea soak their clothes.  We had a wonderful week of sunshine and salt water and silliness.

Yesterday a 10-year-old boy was killed on that exact stretch of beach where my children played.  A wave smashed a log into his young body while he was walking on the shore with his family.

How can we survive this?  How does any of this make sense?

A friend of mine’s young boy had open heart surgery yesterday.  For 8 hours my sweet friend held her breath waiting to hear if the doctors could repair his heart.

How can we survive this? How does any of this make sense?

Last night I watched my best friend hold her 6-day-old baby.  He is so tiny.  And so perfect.  We were in wonder pondering how just a week ago he was tumbling inside of her.  And now he is here.  A little swirl of new life.  An impossible amount of potential and beauty is such a small package.

And I couldn’t help but feel awe.

And on a family walk last night Alex pointed out all the lightning bugs lighting up the park, and Joel carried Andy’s walking stick because he was to tired to carry it any more, and Andy held my hand and whispered to me that he loved me and that he loved walking with me.  And before I went to sleep I got a text from my friend reporting that her son’s surgery was a success.  They fixed her son’s broken heart.

And I couldn’t help but feel awe.

There is so much that is broken, there are so many holes that are too big to ever be fixed.  There are things we will never be able to make sense of, and somethings that we won’t be able to survive.

But I can’t stop myself from believing that there is beauty in the brokenness.  We are still drawn to the canyons, to the holes of life.  It is in these places where the truest forms of love exist.  Where the purest water runs.

I can’t make sense of the suffering that surrounds us.  It seems cruel and unfair.  And yet, suffering brings out such a rawness, such a deep awareness that life is short.  Such a powerful reminder that we must love fiercely.  That we must put down our cell phones and spend more time looking at lightning bugs, and holding hands, and watching the sun come up.  Because it always comes up.  No matter what.



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