I raise my eyes heavenward and pray so hard that my heart must surely burst from my chest. Cancer, again, and yet again, tramples uninvited through meadows otherwise serene, rending and tearing families apart in great red chunks, leaving the grass so recently glistening with sunshine and promise flattened and bloody and utterly bereft of hope. Silence greets my cries. Tomorrow comes and with it, the same darkness.
They say that life isn't fair. Ah, this nebulous they, who speak with such authority on all things life. Well, and this time, they are right. Nothing is promised. There are no guarantees. But still. Why the children? Must they suffer, with their bald little heads covered in scarves, shaking and crying “Mommy, it hurts!” loudly at first, then quietly, and then, not at all? Must parents, with their eyes shut tight, their teeth clenched, their hearts broken and hollow, scream at an uncaring and relentless universe until their throats bleed? They rage and they cry and hold their babies tight and in the end it matters not at all, because the universe doesn't care, and what it has taken, it will keep.
I have friends who are afflicted. I have friends whose children are afflicted. It's horrendous. It's mind numbing. How much can a body take? There seems no rhyme or reason. Hey, it's the third go around! Didn't we have this beat last time? But just when junior starts to get some color back in his cheeks, he starts puking again. So back to the hospital you go.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, hell, even the family dog, cancer doesn't give a rats ass. We're all grist for the mill, baby, and it doesn't matter who you are or who loves you or who will miss you when you go. I wish I could offer some hope, but the Hallmark platitudes escape me. There is no clever rhyme or sacred text that will kiss this boo boo and make it all better.
I have to ask, does it get any better? That's the ultimate horror of it all. Life endures, and the survivors go on, but only because they have no choice. The rage and pain, the ache of loss, it never goes away. It recedes. It gets manageable. It's always there, though, just under the surface, ever ready to pounce without notice and shred any peace you might have salvaged from the horror of your loss.
Then again, are we completely without hope? I have lost, as you have, and everyone else. Haven't we all watched loved ones ravaged by cancer? Haven't we all lived through those long dark nights where the only sound was the ticking of the clock and the ragged breathing of a loved one sleeping in a place that is neither life or death? We have, and here we are.
Ultimately, the sun will light the darkness. We will find that in spite of death, happiness eventually prevails, if we let it. Our pain might consume us for a time, but in the end, all of those who go before us, tragically or otherwise, would not want us to be sad. If they were able, they would gently touch our tear stained faces and say, “Live for me, and be happy.”
And so we do. We live. And eventually, the sun will warm us again.