(April 2005) Yesterday was a long hard day.
My friend and former publishing colleague Florence, an incredibly kind, seemingly healthy and intensely driven woman, was diagnosed with nonHodkins lymphoma eleven months ago and has been in treatment ever since. Her treatment just ended and she had tests this week to check its effectiveness.
Florence grew up in the mountains with a hard father.
We talk about that sometimes.
She says, When people ask you how you turned out so functional (well...), tell them that you had a kind grandmother.
See, Florence’s theory is that, even if you have a hard childhood, you’ll turn out okay if you have at least one good person in your life who is kind to you and loves you unconditionally.
Many Christians make me break out in hives but not Florence, who really does try to live Jesus's teachings and whose beaming face I remember so vividly from my same-sex wedding.
Florence sent the following on the same day that I was at the hospital with Louisville for her cancer follow-up tests.
I read it, thought about how hard her's and Louisville’s and Lynne's treatment were, about how much they just wanted to live and be healthy and loved, and felt like the most vacuous person on the planet for getting annoyed by traffic when I’m alive and healthy and able to see a blooming vibrant world every day.
I go tomorrow to get the results of the CT scans. I desperately want to hear the words “cancer free” and to be placed in the category of patients who are in full remission. I still plead with God, on a regular basis, to leave me here until my children are grown and married, with babies of their own so that I can love them, hold them, spoil them. I want to grow old alongside my husband, to retire from working and to travel all over this country in an Airstream, possibly doing mission work, definitely doing volunteer work. I want to build a new home on our land and have dogs, cats, horses, goats, maybe even a llama, but always enough room for any who need a safe place to sojourn, to rest, to regain their footing. I want to keep living and to be healthy, strong and full of joy.
In the last 11 months, I have been on an incredible journey that has been all uphill. I didn’t really want to travel this particular path but found Jesus was there, right in front of me. He has taken every step I have, but always one step ahead. And when I have kept my eyes on Him, my journey has been an easy one; I have barely been tired. But in the times when I have taken my eyes off Him and looked down, instead, at my own feet, I have stumbled and fallen. I have called out to Him and He has turned and offered me His hand. He has pulled me up and He has guided my steps over the areas on this path that I could in no way traverse on my own. I have been in the presence of Jesus these last 11 months.
I have become accustomed—in fact, almost comfortable—with the uphill climb and the pace, the feel of the burn in my soul. I want to keep climbing, for I have a very long way to go to become the person that God intends for me to be. I do not want to become complacent, or even worse, to start the descent back into the darkness. I want to continue to be in His presence, I want to be brave enough to follow.
So, I want to say on this beautiful day that, whatever I hear tomorrow, I know and I believe that it will be okay. Whatever is ahead, I want, more than any of my other wants, to find myself exactly where He wants me to be, within His will for my life. Because I believe, whatever God has in store for me next, He will walk with me, uphill, through it, and He will give me the courage, strength, grace, peace and joy to continue putting one foot in front of the other, one step at at time. And wherever this journey may take me, please know, that it is well, it is well, with my soul.
Trusting and believing,
And, after 11 hard, hard months, the news was good. Florence has no growths, her blood work and scans are good, and there’s no indication that she’ll have a recurrence any time soon.
So now it’s time to grow her hair back so I can teach her how to spike it with product!