Monday, March 3, 2008

Things That Make Me Cry

I haven't cried much in the past two years -- not when I first heard the doctor say the word "cancer", not when I was told about the treatment I'd have to undergo, not when the cancer came back, not even with the latest news that the cancer has spread to my brain, lungs, liver, and bones.

This is not because I'm a stoic and I think it's weak to cry. I think a good, cathartic cry is great therapy and I highly recommend it (within reason, of course). But each time I hear awful news, I go into problem-solving mode: What do I need to do? Is there a way to fix this? And most times, there's somebody else there with me that I need to console, which keeps me too busy to cry. We all know this instinct to forget about yourself to make things okay for someone else, especially those of us who are parents.

But there are two things that DO make me cry: 1) thinking about my kids, and 2) the amazingly kind things people are doing for me and my family.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I didn't cry until one night when I went to rock Toby back to sleep. He was just five months old at the time and I was walking back and forth holding him in my arms, singing "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. I got to the part that goes, "I hear babies cryin'. I watch them grow..." and I started thinking about the possibility that this little bundle in my arms would have to grow up without a mommy and I felt so sad for him and cried my way through the rest of the song.

Yesterday, I learned that an oncologist in the U.K. who is a friend of a colleague of a friend of a friend...(can't even remember how many people in this chain) is presenting my case to a group of ten doctors to see if they can offer any suggestions. This doctor was at his own mother's funeral when he got the call about me and apologized for having to call back a few hours later. When I heard about this, I cried.

When I read about my friend offering to auction off her phone and throw in her own cash to raise money for Max's brain cancer treatment, I cried. We need to raise $80,000 dollars in about a month, and here she is working on $1,000 at a time, with such optimism and enthusiasm. This is the same beautiful hope that made another friend's six-year-old daughter offer up her piggy bank. I cried and smiled at the same time.

I think there was a time when I would have expected, rather than been surprised by, such acts of kindness. That must have been when I was about ten years old. But the more I saw of the pain, hate, and cruelty in the world, the lower I set my expectations.

I've learned in these last few years of fighting cancer, that there is more good in the world and in us than I'd believed. That's cause for tears. Happy tears.


Anonymous said...

Things that make ME cry.........the list I guess, could be endless right now so instead I am going to use reverse psychology and tell you what make ME SMILE....... its the warmth I feel when I consider EVERYTHING you can consider about my dear friend Shin........and....... ALL those around her......Shin is strong enough to argue "a Gods existence" but as I sit here thinking about WHAT a God could be, I think of HER!!!!! I am not going to explain deeper than that.....I'll let you decide what I mean by that.....I am sure MOST if not ALL of you will come up with EXACTLY the same thought process if you consider the statement deeply enough?!!!
Someone (in fact many people) asked if I believed there was a God when my darling daughter died.....I thought long and hard.....I actually didn't know what to think.......I was Mum suggested a "God" may have taken her young to prevent her suffering later in life ...... my Auntie (who also lost a child) suggested there can be no God because to lose someone so close and suffer so much pain would not be allowed if there was...... my husband suggested......there had to be.....I asked him why (those of you who know Graham will know he can be somewhat opinionated and believes in little) His reply?????? Well...........its a good one I guess........."I have to believe there is a God now Leigh as he would be the only one who could look after our daughter better than we can" I guess what I am trying to say is that its ok to believe.....ok to believe there is.....Ok to believe there isn't.... if it feels right and supports you......

HO HUM..........Have I just fuelled the argument further?! SORRY.... this wasn't meant to be about me.......

Love you Shin....

Leigh x

Annie said...

Things that make me cry ... I cried many times a few weeks ago when I found out that my first cousin had just a few days left on this earth. I cried because I was helpless to help him live. I cried because I couldn't take away his pain, 'the demons' tormenting his soul for so many years of suffering from cancer. I cried because I won't be able to see his big beautiful smile ever again. I cried because life just isn't fair.
I cry when I think that I can't even begin to explain to anyone how big and wide and deep my love for my daughter is. I cry when I try to connect to my husband and I can't. I cry when I see movies where flawed characters make decisions in their lives that change their paths in a way they can never return to where they came, or can never command where they are going. I watched 'Terms of Endearment' for the first time a few weeks ago. I cried and cried. Then I watched it again. I cried then again. I cry when I think about how some people continue to live 'on automatic' in this world, especially given the chance to live freely and bravely, and in princliple. While others don't have the chance to .... and yet will ... . if they can. What a waste ... Shin, do know we'll cry and laugh with and for you. Yours, Annie