It’s not the people inside; they represent some of the best of the best. Dr. Habal and his surgical, oncology team are uniquely gifted in doing what they do. With God’s help, they preserved my life, saved it for a season longer, and I am exceedingly grateful. But follow-up visits are never easy. Instead, they serve as invitations for me to remember the struggle. To enter, once again, that familiar memory from two years ago when I first heard those words, “Mrs. Olsen, the results of your biopsy indicate the presence of cancer . . . invasive ductal carcinoma.”
Two years later, my memory serves me correctly. One doesn’t forget a moment like that one. Some moments are meant to be remembered. They remind me of where I’ve been and how very far I’ve come.
When my name was called, I left Billy and the kids in the waiting room and traveled down that familiar hallway to that familiar examination room. Unlike two years ago, today I would go it alone; today’s visit was routine, less critical, and less worrisome. The room’s sterility was only outdone by its silence—a formidable combination for a mind content on reeling with the potentialities of possible outcomes:
What will he say to me when he comes in? What will he do to me? What will be the results? How can this be right? Where did things go wrong? Where’s my peace? Where’s the doctor? When will it be my turn?
These were my ruminations two years ago. Today? Well, instead of being fraught with worry and questions, I leaned my head back against the wall and rested my eyes. It had taken us two hours to arrive at our destination, and I was tired. I quieted my heart in the wait and listened to the sounds around me. Soft footsteps and even softer murmurings could be heard through the solid, oak door.
Little time had passed before I heard the doctor’s footsteps coming toward me. Instead of stopping at my door, he stopped at room next to mine and announced his arrival with a gentle rap and an even gentler greeting as he entered the room.
“Good morning, Patty. How are you doing today?”
Yes, Dr. Habal was on the move, and I would have to wait a bit longer. Did he say Patty? Maybe it was Kathy? In hindsight, I don’t remember. What I do remember is what happened next, about two minutes after Dr. Habal’s arrival there.
A guttural, turn-your-stomach scream called out from the room next door, interrupting the quietness and forcing my notice. My family tells me it could be heard in the waiting room as well. Some walls aren’t thick enough to insulate the suffering cry. Some walls, instead, herald its arrival, allowing everyone within earshot permission to listen in on private pain . . . her pain, the woman next door who had just received, perhaps, the worst news of her life.
Oh, I didn’t hear those words coming through the walls; I didn’t need to. Some moments write a witness all their own, requiring little explanation. Some moments are just that hard, hurtful, and seemingly hopeless. Some moments are meant to be remembered. This, undoubtedly, was one of hers, thereby becoming one of mine.
I wanted to bolt. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to leave the pain. Instead, I shed some tears on her behalf. Moistness collected in the corners of my eyes and then dampened my cheeks, falling gently into my lap. I marked the moment in solitude and stood in solidarity with my sister on the other side of that wall, knowing something of what she felt and wishing I could break through the scene to give her some truth.
All is not lost in the night, friend. Dawn will break through, and that which now feels like death can feel like life again. Like hope. Like spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Hang on, sister-warrior. Yes, the fight has only begun, but the fight will not last forever. There’s more to the story. Hang on and hold fast . . . the best is yet to be.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget this moment . . . her moment. It belongs to me now. Some moments in our lives are meant to be remembered. Why? Because they remind us of where we’ve been and how very far we’ve come.
Two thousand years ago, another guttural, turn-your-stomach cry issued forth loudly from the cross, allowing everyone within earshot permission to enter into the Savior’s, suffering story. Two thousand years later, my memory serves me correctly, well-preserved for me in the context of Scripture:
“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” —Matthew 27:45-46
Jesus, too, felt forsaken, forgotten, and all alone to grieve the realities of his present suffering. His pain was undeniable; his cry, soul-shattering. The worst news of his earthly life became the best news of ours. All was not lost in the night. Dawn broke through, and that which was death became life again. Became hope. Became spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Jesus Christ held on for a strong finish, fought hard for his Father’s finish, knowing that there was more to the story, his story, our stories. The best had not already been. The best was yet to be. And those who stood by as witnesses to that moment never forgot it. It marked them forever; in doing so, it marks me forever, maybe even you.
Some moments in our lives are meant to be remembered, even the painful ones, especially them. They remind us of where we’ve been; they stand as a memorial to how very far we’ve come, and, most importantly, they tell us the story of where we’re headed.
My life has been marked by pain; my life is not defined by it, but by God’s grace, my life has been changed because of it. I cannot undo personal suffering, nor can I remove you from yours. I can only point you to the One whose story, whose truth, whose witness, and whose resurrection can move you forward to victory.
All is not lost in the night, friend. Dawn will break through, and that which now feels like death can feel like life again. Like hope. Like spring’s resurrection after winter’s solemn grip. Hang on, sister, brother-warrior. Yes, the fight has only begun, but the fight will not last forever. There’s more to the story. Hang on and hold fast . . . the best is yet to be.
With Jesus Christ at the lead, the best is always yet to be.
Peace for the journey,
What suffering moment from your past serves as a lasting witness to the faithfulness of our God and to his Son’s triumph over the grave? What triumph trumps the pain and lingers as a memorial to the hard-fought battle you’ve waged (perhaps continue to wage) to the glory and renown of our Lord? I’d love to hear your story.