Life happens to all of us. One moment of happiness is savored and a moment of anxiety is handled the best that we can. We call it life with its mountains and valleys. “One day at a time” as the survivalists say.
What happens if both joy and anxiety occur the same day? Where do your feelings land and what harbors you?
A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. “O.k., early stage so all looks good.” Pre-surgery prep, outpatient procedure with radiation scheduled just to make sure. Anxiety sinks in but hope prevails. “Ok, here’s the valley,” she might have said to herself. “One day…”
The day her procedure arrives and her routine blood work arrives and she’s told that she’s pregnant. (“Wait a minute! How can there be both a mountain and valley at the same time? I can’t walk that far!”) Along with her husband and doctor it is agreed upon to postpone the surgery but monitor the cancer growth and hope that surgery can occur after the second trimester with radiation after the birth. If the cancer spreads faster than they suspect then surgery can occur only without the radiation. “Ok.” (Digestion of feelings need as much time as a big steak.) “Just keep saying, ‘One day…'”
In talking to friends and colleagues she never references with “I.” It is always a loving “We”- she and her husband. “We’re thinking of this” and “We’ve discussed the options and we feel that…” Perhaps the valley is raised or the mountain is lowered by living this together.
Talking to one friend about the new life growing inside her can quickly turn in her mind to the other growing thing inside her. A cancer survivor tells her the story of her recovery only to trigger the new life that “is now the size of a blueberry.” (Who thinks up those comparisons?)
What she needs now and for the next nine months is gifts. Not the kind of gifts that you give a cancer survivor or a mother. These are the inspired gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wrapped up in our prayers and thoughts for her is strength to bear the cancer burden and the growing strength of the new life she carries. The fortitude gift is the stiff-upper lip that wants to be a frown while a wide smile is also called for through her second child. Wisdom is the easy gift because that’s the gift that is able to tell the difference when she may dwell too much on the valley when the mountain is also visible. Fear of the Lord is a favorite of mine because that’s the faith perspective for which we all yearn. It’s a perspective that keeps her grounded in her myriad of feelings but also anchors those feelings in something greater in guiding her through nine months that I suspect will never be matched again in her life.
It’s a double doze none of us envy but there it is. “One day…” Or, two feelings this day and then two more feelings tomorrow.