As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day.
With most of my writing, I try to offer some kind of answer or solution to whatever I’m talking about. If it’s a life story, I might say how it changed me. I don’t have an answer today. It’s just what I’m thinking about.
When Naomi was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors kept calling it Neuroblastoma, so I did too. When I called a friend out of state to ask for prayers, that was the first time I said it. “Naomi,” I said, then I paused with the realization. “Has cancer,” I managed to get out.
Some people want to personify cancer or imagine it as some awful beast. They talk about battling cancer, fighting it as if it’s in a boxing ring, or maybe more accurately fighting it like a knight and a dragon. It’s all about winning the fight, losing the fight means losing your life.
But I read something in of all places, a young adult fiction book. One doesn’t win over cancer for any other reason than the right medical care, the grace of God, and sometimes just pure luck. Sometimes those factors fall into place for people and the cancer is overcome. Other times…no.
So here I’m going to say something that I believe is true, no matter how utterly horrible it sounds. Sometimes this happens: No matter how hard someone fights, no matter how much they want to live, and yes, regardless how much prayer is being lifted up, they die anyway. They die anyway.
Naomi fought like a furious animal sometimes when it just came to a needle stick. One time it took four nurses and me to hold her down. And when that happened, I couldn’t help but be proud of her. I saw what a fighter she was. If cancer was a personified being, she would have cleaned its clock. Naomi got superior medical care and responded to it. She went into remission twice. But the cancer kept coming back.
And prayer. We had friends around the world praying for her. I prayed all the time. Every time I saw a falling star I would say a prayer instead of making a wish. There was no shortage of prayer for her. But still, she’s gone.
I don’t like to imagine cancer as a monster to be fought. It’s human cells dividing and multiplying in a way they’re not supposed to. Cancer has no evil mind that malevolently selects victims, letting some live and taking others. And in many cases, it’s no-one fault that it happens. While plenty of cancers are brought on by unhealthy lifestyles, many others, including the ones that affect children, just happened.
And this week a family lost a wife and mom. There’s no making sense of it. She didn’t want to die, she got medical care and we prayed for her and she died from the cancer just the same.
I struggled for years with God over losing Naomi. And I finally had to just keep believing in His love and His sovereignty, regardless of what I felt. Some things, there’s no understanding. Why the fall of man included diseases that create empty chairs at the family table is something I will never understand.