Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gaining Traction

As often as I said, my foot has slipped, your love, o Lord, upheld me.
Psalm 94:18

After a shadow on a CATscan a few years ago, I said I couldn’t get traction in the matter of my health. I thought that I was out of the snow bank, that I was ready to go, but I kept spinning out: worrisome blood work here, a shadow there, a new diagnosis. For almost three years, every few months something new broke down. This was particularly hard to take, after forty years of good health. I’d had no training or practice in this kind of living.
            One Friday evening during this period of my life, my Monica cat was badly listing, her left legs not functioning. On the hardwood floors, she slid and skidded. Fearing a stroke and an un-cat-like life, I was set to put her down; however, the vet was encouraging, and she regained better control of her legs. She never lost her desire for food or her desire to climb. I could see when she wanted to make a leap that I thought would end in disaster, and I would place her on the cabinet or bed. With careful thought, she began jumping once again, though not as high as the curtain rods she’d formerly strolled across. Especially during the first days of this new way of life, she became an object lesson of what not being able to get traction was like.
            Monica lasted a few months after that first episode, suffering other mini-strokes, as I came to think of them. Putting her down became the loving thing to do. She, too, had been God’s love to me, seeing me through fifteen years of my life, a period full of changes: my church, my career, my home, my mother’s dying, my own cancer. She loved me through it all, the way animals do, the way that some dear friends have done.
A verse from Psalm 94 that I’d read many times now was revealed in a new light. Sometimes my foot—metaphorically at least—slips and slides on the hardwood-floor realities of living with cancer. But I do not fall, because the love of God holds me upright. Every new problem offers opportunities to meet amazingly skilled and kind medical people. Each medical visit allows me to appreciate friends near and far who are praying for me and those who make sure that I am not alone when facing a procedure or potentially scary news. Loving someone with cancer isn’t easy—we aren’t always our best selves or very much fun to be around. These people are visible manifestations of God’s love, the hands and feet of the Lord, holding me up.

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