You never know when it’s gonna hit. I haven’t even given cancer much thought recently. I just live and write and buy groceries and do boy mom things and complain about the nine inches of mid-March snow that the weatherman did not forecast. And it’s good. I like this life God has given me. I’m happy. I’m content. I’m blessed.
But this guy named Brandon Elder walked into our living room via the American Idol try-out stage the other night and he opened up wounds I wasn’t prepared to revisit. This sweet 22-year-old guy started talking about his mom while Corey, Lewis and I sat together watching and listening. He talked about how she was diagnosed breast cancer. How she survived breast cancer. How two or three years later the breast cancer came back. How she eventually lost her life.
I could feel Corey begin to shake. He turned away. Presumably so Lewis wouldn’t see his tears.
I kept my face focused on the screen, my lungs focused on breathing in and out, and my eyes focused on not welling over.
“Mom, how long has it been since you got cancer?”
“Two years, buddy.” Focus, Kim. Don’t cry.
“But when you get to five years, you are all healed, right?”
“Kind of. Five years is a big deal in the cancer world.” Darn voice. Stop cracking. Just breathe and speak.
“Well I think you’re healthy, and I want you to live a long time.”
“I feel the same way.”
Together we continued to watch American Idol until it was bedtime for Lewis.
As I leaned over his bed and scratched his back I thought about those tears I tried so hard to keep inside. I’m not exactly sure why neither Corey not I wanted to cry that night in front of our little man. Maybe because we wanted him to see us as strong. Maybe because we weren’t prepared to think about cancer just then. Maybe because if we had given in to the tears we might not have been able to stop. Maybe because we didn’t want him to unnecessarily worry about things beyond his control.
Whatever it was, we went to bed with hearts that felt just a little too heavy in our chests. But it’s okay. Cancer is part of us. It doesn’t rule us. We don’t live in fear of it. Lots of days we don’t even think about it. But no matter where we go or what we do, it’s a weighty piece of who we are. Much like any other experience in our lives that reminds us that these bodies we live in are not immortal. But those heavy heart moments also remind us to lean into Jesus. The One who takes away our heavy and gives us His light. And anything that pushes me to lean into Jesus is a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like a good thing.
I hope that though we don’t always want to show our unbridled emotions to Lewis, he is still deeply aware of our unbridled love for our Savior. And that though we are careful in the details we share with him, he is learning by watching us to lean into Jesus.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”