It's been almost a full year ago since I've mentioned my friend/coworker who was diagnosed with cancer. I've had a few folks along the way ask how things are going for her, and truth is while my hours picked up at work, hers took on a completely different direction...one of healing, spiritual growth, focus on family, and all the stages that come with accepting the will of God (both good and bad) in your life. Turns out I've only talked with her once or twice over the last year, and only kept updated through another coworker.
I had the opportunity to chat with her last Friday though, and I've been unable to let go of our conversation. The cancer news was not good. In fact despite several rounds of chemo and radioactive treatments, the cancer continues to spread. More liver involvement, and now lungs and lymph nodes. She's taken on more than her share of negative side effects from the treatments, including weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, and neuropathy in her hands and feet making walking a new challenge, and hindering her fine motor skills.
I just can't help but think to myself how "unfair" it seems, and yet she'd have no part in sharing those thoughts with you. During the entire conversation she was a source of joy, and hope and optimism regardless of the diagnostic outcome. She truly radiated a sense of "living in the moment" and trust in God's providence. She shared how certain she was that He had his hand in every moment of her life/health, and just beamed with gratitude for each moment of each day. It was obvious to me how despite the bad things that come our way, God continues to use us. Our reactions can reflect His prescence and peace to others, despite the burdens we bare. Wow. What a beautiful woman. And how blessed I feel to have been touched by her message of spiritual healing and growth even when physical healing isn't possible.
I found myself thinking of her throughout the weekend and grabbing on to those little life moments that pass in the blink of an eye. The hectic times, the frustrating times, the good times...God's constantly working in our lives, and our reaction to all of it can change people. How blessed I am to sit in my rocker and twist braids into a ten-year-old's hair...getting ready for the football game, as supper warms on the stove. Or to show a 3 year old how to make the sign of the cross at mass, or to lay on the bed and read a few chapters with my son, to sit in the sun and watch the kids help their Dad water flowers. These simple moments won't last forever. Instead we continue to face more difficult challenges along the way, some we can't even begin to imagine or accept at our current phase of life, and yet, they'll come.
I pray for the grace my friend shows. I pray to be able to learn from her, and to find my self living in the moment, grateful for the good and the bad, content in the knowledge that He is constantly holding us in the palm of His gentle, loving hand.