Throughout the last month- I've only had two real big breakdowns: one right after the ultrasound that showed a mass while we were waiting to go back for the biopsy- and two, last night.
We had gotten home late, put the boys to bed and I felt overwhelmed with everything that was unknown. Would it come back. When could we have another baby. How could we have another baby. How hard will it be to have another baby. Why when I had a body that could so easily get pregnant and carry a healthy baby did I have to deal with a disease that made that process so much more complicated and even dangerous. What if I would have been more in tune with the spirit years ago. Could that have changed things or prompted me to be more preventative earlier?
The night was long. Jax talked in his sleep and the boys all woke up early. McKay, who was up with Jax left for work exhausted and I got up and though felt better than I had last night, knew I needed a perspective realignment. As I've talked to people throughout this experience, some well-meaning people feel the need to give me justification in feeling like this is really hard which I think can be a natural tendency. After reassuring them that I feel peaceful and calm and that things will be fine, they respond with, "I know, but this is really scary." Or "but this is a really big deal." Of course I know that logically, or from a medical standpoint, yes, this is a really big deal. It's "scary." But how grateful I am for the very real and tangible lightness I have felt throughout this entire burden. So much in fact, that i'm not even sure I would call it that. My very favorite response to my news was a friend who relied, "...onward and upward!" Rather that viewing this trial as a state of arrival, as something that's final- that changes everything for the worse- that's "me" now, I like to think of it as a stepping stone- a building block- a mountain to climb that when conquered will leave me stronger and capable and confident that through the enabling power and grace of Jesus Christ, I can do all things.
This morning Jax went to a friend's house and honestly it was just what I needed. I'm having a hard time keeping track of tender mercies like that- friends who offer to take a kid or two just when I need it, babies who fall asleep just when I need them to, dinners in my freezer, etc. There have just been so many of them. But this morning there were several. Jax left and Cash was ready for a nap and as he fell asleep in my arms, Jonah came into his room and silently played under his crib. (If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is!) I had time to read a talk given my Sheri Dew at a Women's Conference a few years ago- all about the grace and enabling power of Jesus Christ (among tons of other wonderful counsel and teachings). But she explained grace in a way that clarified it for me- as something that allows us to feel peace, or "lightness," or hope (I now substitute this word when I read it in the scriptures with "assurance") or even joy, during times that would otherwise be really hard. Through grace, pain or hurt or regret can be completely taken away. Grace enable us to do things we could not do on our own. We have access to that grace through Jesus Christ.
There have been so many time in my life when I'm going through something hard and I scour conference talks or the scriptures with a specific subject in mind- thinking that I know already what I need to hear or learn, and if I could just find that thing, my problems will be solved. But this one I am going about differently- and I am starting to understand like I never (really) have before that the entire gospel is centered around Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I used to compartmentalize everything: missionary work, charity, the Atonement, family history work. I think I have read a talk or a passage of scripture in the last month that references almost any topic I can think of. And you know what I'm learning? Everything is possible because of the same person: Jesus Christ. And everything we do here on earth is for one purpose: returning to live with our Heavenly Father.
I have been given packets of information regarding cancer, what they think my stage is, etc. Family has sent me articles with information. I haven't read anything. Strength for me doesn't come from information or knowledge of science. It comes from faith and total assurance that what I've felt in peaceful, sacred moments will come to pass. I love this quote I read this morning from Sheri Dew,
"Sometimes we think that the world around us is what is real—but this world is so fake, so much of it. What’s real is our Father and His Son, the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and all the power available to us to help us do what we came to this earth to do."
It's how I feel. Yes, the reality is that there is cancer in my body. It's my mountain to climb. But that reality is nothing compared to the power of Heavenly Father. Will He just take it away? Will the cancer just disappear? I doubt it. But I learned a long time ago that His plan is always better than mine and have felt a miraculous ability to continue on with my life despite that reality. And that's something I know I could never do on my own. It's not just a hopeful feeling. It's not just a thought. It's tangible. It's a change of mind and heart. And it's the grace of the Savior.