Several years ago Julia asked me for advice for dealing with someone in her life. What follows is a paraphrasing of our conversation. In fact it might all be fiction. I can't remember that far back. (CRS syndrome)The details of the person, and the interaction, are not important. What is important is that for a fleeting moment of brilliance I was able to offer the one thing that we all too often fail to provide. Good advice.
"Different rock, same stream." I said as casually as if ordering off the dollar menu.
"What?" Julia asked.
Upon recognizing the simplicity in design and beauty in it's function I restated the theorem as a mathematician may do when revising a soon to be published paper disproving euclidean geometry. (It's true what Julia says. I think rather highly of myself.)
"You know. Same stream. You're just on a different rock."
This left Julia with a puzzled silence.
I share this story with you because I've been revisiting the idea and deciding whether or not I still believe it. It would be hard to find fault in someone that becomes angry at the world after cancer enters their life. I would also be empathetic to someone who discovered envy towards everyone who didn't have cancer in their life. Our view of our world is almost always based on the people we see around us. And this was the point of my advice given to Julia years ago. It's easy to be jealous of the person that is standing on "new-truck-rock" when you look down into the stream and realize that you're just standing on "every-day-life-rock." We're still all standing in the same stream. While I don't have enough time in this post to discuss whats on the other bank of this stream, I do need to emphasize that it's all one stream and we get to hop to different rocks.
Julia is standing on the cancer rock. I'm proud to say that I'm standing on it with her. It took actually watching chemicals being injected in to her before I realized that I wasn't on the "every-day-life-rock" anymore. But we are here. And this is happening.
And that's when I started wondering if I was angry at cancer. It's this stupid little thing that gets to feed of lives that we have worked so hard to have. So I've decided something. It may be naive but I'm ok with that.
The cancer rock isn't where cancer lives. The cancer rock is where cancer fighters go to prove what they are made of. Unlike cancer, the cancer rock is huge. It's big enough for our dog to come. It's big enough for a three hundred fifty square foot deck. It's big enough for a church congregation to make a quilt. It's big enough for a few portable air conditioners. I hear Texas is big and I'm pretty sure it could fit on this rock. It's big enough for fear and it's big enough for hope.
And these are the things I tell myself when I'm feeling angry.
I really have nothing but confidence that Julia is going to be healthy.
Just because I wish we were standing on a different rock doesn't mean that we don't have everything we need right here with us.
ps...here is a more extensive list of the things I see on the rock with us. Feel free to add more things in the comments if you wish.
moms, dads, sisters
babies with adorable plaid pants
dogs that smell like dogs
the kind of people that bike around the world
employers that are far too gracious with their time off
musicians and music
black dog smokehouse
talented doctors and nurses