This morning, I have Mary on the brain. I'm thinking about Mary in her later stages of pregnancy. I'm thinking of my friends in their later stages of pregnancy, as they get the nursery prepared and enjoy the last meals out that they will have for many years without having to think about childcare or bringing children with them.
I am also thinking about my high school friend who has esophageal cancer. Earlier this year, it seemed that she might be one of the ones who survived. She got to abandon the chemo drug that made her feel so dreadful. There was a vacation to the beach.
Now she is back in the hospital to undergo radiation again. I've heard from a mutual friend that she's got cancerous tumors in the brain. The radiation will only buy her some time.
I think of her in the hospital. I think of her spouse who keeps vigil. I think of them as existing in this sort of liminal time, a time when something new will be born. That something new is so different from a baby. I have never experienced either, not exactly, and yet I imagine that both times are full of terror along with joy.
I was very grateful for this post by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, a post which talks openly about how to pray when we face the incurable. The post wrestles with this question: "What does it mean to cultivate hope when the doctors say 'there's nothing more we can do'?"
I know that people will tell me that my friend is going to a better place. I can already hear all sorts of platitudes which will not comfort me when I grieve. The promise of future comfort is a cold comfort today.
As I wrote yesterday, there are many aspects of this life and this creation that I do not understand. Does God love the cancer cell just as steadfastly as God loves the healthy cell? A cancer cell seems like a design flaw to me--and yet, of course, I am not God. I do not have that long view.
My spouse who has a graduate degree in Philosophy reminds me that we're all living with this death sentence. Again, it seems like a design flaw.
I will return to the wisdom of Mary, who said yes to a plan she couldn't fully understand. I will try to emulate her strength and courage.
feeling the feelings…
4 months ago