Whine, please!

My daughter has a fever today and is generally miserable. I want her to feel better immediately, of course. Sick three-year-olds are pretty much the most pathetic thing in the world. (“Mommy, mommy, mommy, what can I do?! What can I do?! My legs are freezing but my head is hot and my sweatshirt feels funny and oh no I spilled my water and oh mommy mommy waaaaaa waaaaaa!” she wailed for 20 minutes straight until the ibuprofen kicked in.)

But at the same time, it’s such a relief to shove my own aches and pains to the side and focus on someone else’s problems. I love being the caregiver instead of the patient for a change.

I feel this relief every time a friend tells me about something hard that they are going through, which frankly, doesn’t happen too often these days. The sharing, I mean. Last time I checked, nobody’s life was perfect, but people seem to think it’s bad form to complain about anything to a cancer patient. If they do dare, they often stop and apologize mid-story, saying, “Of course, this is NOTHING compared to what you are going through. I can’t believe I’m even telling you about it.”

No no no, I say to that! Apples and oranges! Scoring pain is only useful in an emergency room. (In which case, I find 8 is a useful number to convey “need drugs now, but not being actively mauled by a bear.”) I don’t want to dwell on pain–mine or yours–but let’s not ignore it. Let’s admit that we all have tangles and jagged edges in our lives. We are all doing our best to cope and heal and find the grace to walk forward through dark places. And allowing me the opportunity to help listen and hug and cry and pray you through those places is a gift that reminds me I am more than a cancer patient: I am also a friend, a wife, a mommy, just a plain old human. It strengthens me by prying my gaze away from my own ugly navel (if my surgeon is reading this, that’s only a metaphor, you did a fine job). It makes me turn toward the strongest light I know, the Creator who promises that “a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

This has been a day of wiping tears and snot, of allowing juice and crackers on the couch and watching too much TV and going through a ridiculous number of those plastic thermometer probe covers. A messy day. A good day. Because I am here. Because we are here together.

12 thoughts on “Whine, please!

  1. I hope that things get better for you soon Amanda. In our family we have decided that this year is no longer called 2016, it has officially been renamed the year of the suck. Too much pain and suffering for all. I miss you old friend and think of you often.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man Amanda! This was just the encouragement I needed to hear tonight. I love how God has orchestrated community to provided comfort, perspective, and to always point us back to Him. At 2am as I wrestle in prayer for some of my clients from church, it is a good reminder that we are all in the pain club and it is not wasted pain, but can draw us closer to each other and God. Thanks!

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  3. Yes, I agree that it’s very easy to feel like it’s wrong to complain in any way to a cancer patient. But you make good points about it being important to be able to walk alongside others in their struggles too. Hope E is feeling better soon!!!

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