Of this week in 2012 I will remember two things. First, that I lost two people whom I love to cancer, and second that I watched Shrek 2. And by “watched,” I mean slept through.
My aunt has carried a breast cancer diagnosis for about a year and half. When she found the lump and the bruise, the cancer had invaded all of her lymph nodes and was pronounced Stage Four. She fought it and we thought she had beat it, but it turned out to be a temporary victory because it came back with a vengeance right before Christmas, this time in her liver and in her brain. She died last week on Sunday, February 26. Our family had barely recovered from the initial shock of losing my aunt, if you can call it recovery at all, when we got word that my uncle, a brother-in-law on the same side of the family, had passed away because of the intestinal cancer he’d been battling for years. He died Wednesday, February 29. Both of these important people in my life had personal relationships with Jesus, had understood His sacrifice and repented of their sins, and had, I think, tried to reflect the Love they experienced in the world so that other people might know who God is too. They are, I believe, in heaven. They are some place good.
For the last few weeks, Wednesdays have been days that Jesse and Amy and I get together to watch Disney movies or some other favorite cartoon movie. It affords Amy and I time to snuggle Noah while Jesse showers or naps or simply gets a few un-touched moments. Wednesdays are usually pretty good days. Here’s what I’ll remember about this Leap Year Wednesday in 2012: that my uncle died while I was still grieving for my aunt, and that two friends took really good care of me while we watched Shrek 2.
The three of us, plus Noah, piled on Jesse’s bed, each dealing with something unique that was draining us physically and emotionally. And each of us, for our own reasons, needing to be close to each other and needing to laugh. I think we just wanted to show up for each other, to be a little less alone in the tiredness, to try to help each other shoulder a part of what was going on just a little bit. For me, “carrying” meant that they let me fall asleep in the middle of the movie. It was okay by my friends that I was there and not there all in one fell swoop, that I was there in physical presence but checked out into sleep – and I know it was okay, because as I was drifting off I heard Amy say “Good!” when Jesse told her I was asleep. And something in Amy’s “Good!” and in being with women who care for me like I’m also their sister in the warmth of a lamp-lit room with the rain singing off the roof made me feel safe and “okay” for the first time in a week. Because when you lose two people you love in a three day time span, the world begins to seem very dark, and you begin to think that all there is in love is losing, and you begin to feel anxious as you wait for the next shoe to drop, marking another loss. But, before those thoughts and feelings could really take me captive, I sprawled across a bed, fell asleep at the feet of two of my favorite women in the world, and was reminded that with love also comes safety, comfort, and the ability to rest.
I know that a bedroom in any house is not actually comparable to the awe and wonder of heaven, but being at Jesse’s on Wednesday with her, Amy, and Noah was divine in its own way. By that I mean that it was a sanctuary, a place of respite, where I could lay down in my weariness and be taken care of. It was a place where God was present. And like heaven, any place where God is present is some place good.