Cancer-free. Remission. Completed treatment.
Memories, pictures, blog posts, a stack of hospital bills, several white scars and a bald head were the proof that remained. William’s leukemia was gone.
There was very little time to celebrate. We had only 48 hours to say goodbye to our friends and home of nearly three years. Nine days after the plastic tubing was removed from above William’s heart, the moving van took all we owned and drove it away to a chance to begin again.
I couldn’t fully explain what we had just been through to the new friends and neighbors but they were wonderful and embraced us. The new pre-school was wonderful and slowly we tried our hand at “Normal”. I went outside in the summer and warm fall weather as much as possible after being in one artificially lit room for 6 months. I longed to feel sunlight and to see William rediscover grass and dirt. I pulled curtains back to allow light in.
I made a friend there who became my right arm and my Person. It turned darker earlier and the toddlers became very ill. Snow locked us inside for a month. I learned that significant trauma from her past and the demon called Anxiety caused her to fight a valiant fight. Most days she kicked it in the teeth. She named it The Dark Place. It sounded like a place I had seen in a dream or in pictures–familiar but far off. We fought together and I tried to shine a light for both of us.
Then night came. My comfortable bed inside a darkened room without the blue glowing lights and noise from pumps was a perfect place to rest. For some reason, I’d wake at 9pm. Then 11:00. Then 2:00. Then 4:00. I realized William was waking as well. These were the times for pump changes and blood draws. I’d wake up anxious and exhausted, which felt familiar and welcoming somehow. Snow, Strep throat, appointments, blood draws, my husband’s absence for work, and the usual struggles with toddlers and disabilities mounted. I tried to fight through it, as effectively as a $1 flashlight compared to the sun. This supposed to be the easier time we had waited for and so much was going right.
Then I had a doctor check my counts and levels. My stress hormones and chemicals were pumping at a trauma or deployment induced level. A time of medication and the help of friends and wise, older women brought me back. My body and my heart healed. The year was hard, but I remember it with such joy and blessings as well. The most beautiful time was also the hardest– Christmas. Looking back now, that time of healing and grappling with God after the trauma of cancer care-giving was as valuable as the time during treatment.
Light still shines when other light is around, but light surrounded by darkness seems to shine brighter. Lights in the darkness become beacons.
It is Christmas time again. Strands of lights are everywhere, visible and ready. At night the lights receive power and joined together they shine, illuminating the night. This is what is happening in our home as well. The Christmas tree’s light shines a peaceful glow– enough that I can safely walk the floor with a baby in a darkened room. The bright, joyful moments are here, strung together and held up so that we may be filled with delight and awe.
This is the key to Christmas. Christmas is FULL of Darkness. Tidings of Peace, Great Joy, childlike joy, and all things bright are set against a backdrop of with stress, planning, travel, illness, death, loneliness, strife– and that is the point of Christmas.
On the day of Christ’s birth, the brightest star ever seen on Earth pointed the way toward God With Us. God had been silent for 400 years, his people were occupied and mistreated by Romans, Herod was a tyrant and it was tax season. The world was dark when the Light came.
The problem comes when MANY lights are shining. When the joys of health, financial stability, beautiful families, acclaim, likes and followers, honors, and promotions are abundant, these bright points can distract. They light up life and make it less necessary to keep eyes fixed on the one LIGHT; God in his righteousness, goodness and faithful provision. When Darkness comes, the Light shines and demands our attention.
The HARD things that make us despair and weep make us long for a Savior. This was precisely the case in Bethlehem when a star pointed to the Light of the World that came to testify to the Truth.
Don’t be afraid of the Dark. We all face it. Find the Light and be a light to others that points to God. Don’t just seek and find Him– walk with Him and keep your eyes on Him. That is our secret to Christmas with Cancer. The Light shines brighter and much more clearly.