Helpless. It’s been a recurring feeling over the past month. We were helpless to stop cancer cells from growing in her body. We were incapable of dictating the results of the biopsy. We couldn’t pick the type or stage; all of that was already decided for us.
No begging or bargaining. No pleading or promises. We’re couldn’t change any of it.
How unnerving it is to know things can grow inside our body without us knowing and against our will. Some discover it early but for others, it’s too late. Fortunately, we’re on the early side of things. But how quickly life changes; from normal to not, just like that.
The feeling of helplessness hangs heavy.
As her husband, there’s an extra weight of (completely irrational) guilt for not stopping the unstoppable. I’ve always felt it was my duty to protect my girls but this time, it’s far beyond my control. I realize how powerless I am but feelings don’t abide by logic–though I wish they would.
The guilt worsened when they wheeled you to the operating room. The stretcher turned the corner, taking you out of sight; the weight of our reality held me in place.
For the next few hours, we’d both be helpless–you at the mercy of a surgical team and me, anxiously waiting to see you again.
I joined a roomful of others in a similar situation. We took turns staring at the screen listing patient numbers, silently waiting for status change on our code. Reading, pacing, praying, journalling, knitting. All of us waiting.
I look up from my book as a woman in hospital scrubs flies into the room, eyes locked on mine. I met her that morning, a friend and co-worker of my wife, but now I was alarmed by her hurried entrance. As she gets closer she smiles and my heart settled back into place. She tells me surgery is going well, my wife is safe and she’ll be at her side when she wakes up.
What a relief!
Honestly, I hate feeling helpless, vulnerable and exposed (surely I’m not alone); it’s a scary place. If we’re honest with ourselves though, so much of life is beyond our control and it’s that sense of powerlessness that can breed fear and anger. But only if we let it.
We won’t allow fear to control us, we’re choosing to trust in the face of the unknown. Though none of this cancer journey makes sense now, I’m sure there’s plenty to learn along this road.
Even at our most vulnerable, we can choose to trust.
Cancer doesn’t make sense but we trust our doctors to inform and guide us.
We can’t change the diagnosis but we trust that we’ll make it through.
I couldn’t be at her side during surgery but I trusted she wouldn’t be alone.
We don’t know our next steps but we trust: “Every little thing gonna be alright”.