I am not a girl who was blessed with the gift of faith. I fully embraced my secular family member’s values of critical reasoning from childhood. And in many aspects of life, it helps to not place too much stock in what you believe to be true. It may well be completely false.
But losing my moms taught me how to embrace faith. I am changed now, and I understand how faith can be as important as the air we breathe.
Part of me still rebels against the very idea of faith. Despite the fact that my most brilliant family members include devout Christians, I long attributed faith as something embraced by those less-intelligent than myself. Bad things happen, why dance around like everything will be okay? Don’t believe that a God will make it all better– he/she probably won’t.
I grew up and became a nurse. The optimism of doctors in oncology was particularly annoying. Whatever, this patient is going to kick the bucket, why not face the music and get them go to hospice? Maybe it made me feel superior, feeling like I could predict life and death. The thing is, sometimes those patients did survive. Or they walked out of the hospital. Or they lived long enough to clap and laugh at their child’s birthday. Miracles happened, and sometimes I was too busy rolling my eyes to notice.
Mom, she had faith. Deep into her illness, she still believed she would get a bone marrow transplant and achieve that long-sought remission. Or at least, that’s what she told me. Who knows what is in another’s heart? It drove a wedge between us, because I believed she would die only a few months after she started chemo. She will die, she will die, she will die. It was all I could think about.
And she did die. But unfortunately, we didn’t bridge that gap between her faith and my obsession. In a certain way, we were estranged during the last year of her life. I did the best I could do in a painful and heartbreaking situation, but I still wish that things were different.
With my patients I’m not crippled by fear. I find myself saying so much more often you will do this, and its going to work. You’ll do very well. This cancer will be beat. I can’t predict that my patients will survive any more than I can predict that I will survive. But hope is everything. I wasn’t able to embrace hope with my mom because I was too fearful. But if we only have today, this present moment, this now, why not be optimistic? Why not count on the very best?
In the end, we can’t fight what will and will not be. The cosmic die are cast, and are tumbling towards destiny. We don’t know what is ahead of us tomorrow. So why not embrace the light, count on the miracle, expect the very best? The present moment is all we have. Believing in a bright tomorrow helps one relax a bit, don’t you think? The energy we spend dwelling over the certain destruction ahead can be better spend enjoying the sun, the smile of a loved one, the wagging tail of a dog.
The monsoon has come to the desert, and we have spent this 4th of July doused by the rains. I raise my face to the sky, embrace the drops stinging my face, and join the chorus in faith that these showers will transform the sterile, dusty earth to a green paradise, full of life.