As I consider my birthday, another year behind me another year before me, I think about the unpredictability of life. This coming year, I am not sure of who I should be or what I should expect. Cancer survivors say it is a common mental struggle that gets better as time ticks forward. But here I sit, today, and I realize my doctors have never declared me “cancer free” or even stated that I am in remission. There is no clear line to distinguish that yesterday I was fighting, today I have overcome. My conversations with doctors leave me feeling that cancer is inside of me hiding, silently waiting. So a sense of insecurity hangs over me.
When I stop and consider life, this sense of insecurity should not come as a surprise. In college a friend died of an aneurysm. Another childhood friend was told from birth that he would not live past 18, yet lives productively into his 30’s. Another friend died in his 20’s in a car crash, only to find his body had unknowingly been eaten by cancer. On and on I could reflect on unexpected tragedies and physical triumphs that I have witnessed. Experience shows me that our bodies are not reliable, the medical community is still learning, and without any security in our future, we all move forward. Some people move forward because they have faith in a doctor saying “you are cancer free.” Some people place their hopes in diet and exercise.
The only response that makes sense to me is placing my faith in my God. Since I was a child, I accepted that only my God knew the path of my life. It was for me to understand one step at a time. It was His job to reveal and create the foothold that would carry me forward. Truly, forward motion is the goal. I have never wrestled with the “why”. My heart remains steadfast on the job that is mine: to step forward on the path that is revealed.
This year taught me that pain is a great motivator. Difficult times push you to reach out to family, neighbors and even society. Pain creates a platform of interconnectedness. As I reached out in need, I was able to observe the web of love that had been built throughout my life. A web that seemed invisible in certain moments of life, but as tears dripped onto the web, it began to glisten and the most beautiful accomplishment of my life was revealed.
Once observed, this web of love has become motivating. No matter where my path turns or climbs, whether my journey lasts five years or forty, it is this web of love that hangs before me, glistening in the light of my life. I want to see its strands grow and reach to the farthest corners of my view, including as many others in my interconnected masterpiece.
No matter what I choose to do in the coming year, how I spend my time, or where I invest my talents, all that will truly matter is how well I have loved. This revelation, learned through pain, will carry me forward.