I volunteered, more than a year ago, to donate a kidney to a friend at work. The process of kidney donation is long and tedious. One of the final tests, almost a year later, discovered a tumor in the peripheral of my right kidney. Further follow up visits with my own physicians and a subsequent biopsy revealed that yes, it was malignant. On the bright side, this type of cancer is said to be slow growing and mine was caught extremely early, being only the size of 1.7 centimeters.
Healing. It was now time for my healing to begin. This involved denial during the open enrollment time of health insurance when I could have upgraded my policy and added cancer benefits; this involved sudden shock when I later asked point blank, “so is it malignant?”; this involved silently crying myself to sleep for a short nap then having to wake up and tell my kids. This healing process also involved detailed planning–planning appointments, planning for an upcoming ablation procedure, and planning for my absence from my classroom. Planning was so tedious and time consuming, but very vital to my sanity and healing as well.
I have to admit that the telling of this news to my two boys felt as if I were stepping into a confessional booth. Both of my boys had, for years, tried to convince me to quit smoking, to no avail, and through no fault of their own, of course. Here I was, telling those who love me most, of how my indiscretion could have led to this. Trying to sugar coat, I was sure to mention that those with high blood pressure and and who are male have a higher risk for this type of cancer. Surprisingly, there was no “I told you so” from either of them. There were those questions of concern: “will you live?” and “will you be okay?” My sons worried about the length of time until the ablation procedure and if this treatment was good enough, suggesting the tumor be removed instead.
I am thankful that they are able to do an ablation for this type and size of cancer. The pain, though it was severe at times on the day of the procedure, was tolerable. I can sleep now, which is a relief since I had little sleep the week prior to the procedure.
Outpourings of love were, to me, baptisms of both immersion and sprinkling, as this is the best way I can describe the kindness shown to me during this time. It has been nice to reacquaint with old friends from twenty years past, during my time off. It has been very nice to have church friends bring dinner for me and my boys. It has been very nice to be able to spend more time with my dad and sister during recovery, both at the hospital and my house. The phone calls, the messages, even the “drop-by’s” have all nurtured me to a deeper sense of peace and tranquility in the midst of this chaos called “cancer.”
Yesterday and the day before, when the acts of kindnesses began, and as friends and relatives began to say they’d “drop by for coffee” or to bring me lunch or dinner, I began to consider again the poem by T. S. Eliot, The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock, where the speaker says,
and indeed…there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; …there will be time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.
I love this particular stanza in this poem, as it speaks volumes to me. There will be time for so much in our busy, chaotic lives. There will be time to get lost in ourselves, within this chaos we call “order.” There will even be time for cancer, and time to plan for treatment, “before the taking of a toast and tea,” before the meeting up with friends and relatives who, for too long, have felt too distant through the chasm of chaos in our daily lives.
I have enjoyed the company, phone conversations, the laughter, and the rest. I have been baptized in love, both sprinkled and immersed, both showered upon, and engulfed. If this outpouring of kindnesses were constant and for all, surely there would be little worry in the world, little, if no childhood starvation, and little, if not any need for more healing of the heart and mind.
I am now certain that as we all truly “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” the chaos will dim, the light will dawn, and love will certainly both baptize and heal the world through our own acts of kindnesses to all we encounter, as unto Christ.
[Image credit: Public Domain via Pixabay]
When did the kindness of others make a difference to you?