10 days ago, I got a text from my best friend, “there’s no easy way to say this, my girl has Leukemia”. And in that short text, her world and my world shifted (probably more accurately, her world blew up). It’s so true when they say, “life can change in an instant”. Her daughter is 11.
I couldn’t even imagine what my friend and her husband must have been going through as a parent in that moment and the moments that followed. And even now, 11 days later, where life turns into what’s happening in this instant, and the next instant, and then the next. Where you were planning, and living your life to the beat of your farm, your children, your garden, your community. And now you’re moving in the bubble of a hospital to the beat of the doctors and nurses and how your sick child is.
For me, I first felt incredible sadness and compassion for this beautiful family. This family has been a part of our family since I was 16. I first knew her dad, and then a few year later we were all roommates. Through all my growing years, learning years, influential years, they have been by my side in one way or another. Our babies have grown up together. When I brought my future husband to meet them, there was worry and love for what he stood for in our lives. They were protective of me and my daughter to make sure we wouldn’t get hurt. And then years later, all their beautiful children were flower girls in our wedding and my best friend was my maid of honor.
When I got that text 11 days ago, I was angry for a moment that something so terrible could happen to a family that is so incredible. They have 6 daughters altogether. They are in 4H and are home schooled. They are a very big part of quite a few communities around this island, giving back, loving people, creating abundance in their lives and the lives of many many others. I could list off all the ways they make a difference in other people’s lives but let me just say that their community and our world is better with them in it. Which then had me get angry and wonder: if there was a god, why would he/she let such a horrible thing like childhood cancer impact a family that so clearly doesn’t deserve this.
Directly following that I felt an incredible pull to be of service to them. I’ve never felt such a strong desire/need to be with another human; to be there for them. 1.5 days later, I hopped on a ferry to the mainland to see where I could help these beautiful humans. I got to listen, support, warm up burritos, deliver groceries, give hugs, laugh, untangle tubes, and most importantly I got to BE with them. Like really be with them. Be with them in silence. Be with them while they were reading their family handbook on cancer, be with them when the doctor was explaining. Be with them when she was going into surgery and then waking up from surgery, Be with them when we just wanted to watch a movie. Connection in a time of compassion, grief, distress, confusion, love, sadness. What a gift this was for me.
And then I went home a different person.
We’re all on our own journeys in life. Processing what happens in our lives, as we need to. We put up guards to protect us and keep us safe. In an incredibly stressful time, that’s when our survival mechanism kicks in and says, “Ok, I’m running the show now, this is exactly what I’ve been training for all our lives. Move over, I need to get us back to our comfort zone pronto.” And then we do those things that we know so well to do to get us back to comfort and safety and normalcy. And this happens at times when we’re outside our comfort zones. And it’s perfectly ok.
And as you can imagine, in a situation like finding out your baby has cancer, that would plunge you outside the CZ in an instant. You zip down to one hospital and then over to another where tests, surgeries and doctors fill your life within 24 hours. How incredibly scary and jarring that must be. And then I think of the doctors in that hospital and how loving, kind, compassionate, and strong they are and how well they know to keep you safe, informed, and nurtured. And eventually, the hospital and tests and treatments “become the new normal” as I heard a doctor say. I envision that this new normal is potentially your survival mechanism now morphing to create comfort out of the chaos and protect us and keep us safe.
And through all of this, I continue to send massive light, love and strength to my wonderful friends. I want to be whatever they need me to be to support them in whatever way they need supported. I’m honored to be a part of their journey in this life.