Nearly twenty-five years ago I walked into a doctor’s office.
I found a lump a few weeks earlier. Because I was young (and clueless) I let those weeks pass.
When I finally realized the lump wasn’t going away, I made a doctor’s appointment. By the end of the day the word cancer was spoken for the first time.
Something happened as I battled Stage 3 cancer at the ripe age of 31.
“Stuff” lost its luster and the humans around me became ultra important.
Stuff wasn’t necessarily material things, but all the stuff that piled up in my life and on our calendar. All the activities and work and volunteering that kept me running from one place to another.
Stuff can also be the things that get in the way of loving our people well, like frustration and impatience and annoyance.
As I sat with my young children and tried to explain that mommy was sick, I memorized their faces. I wondered if I’d watch them grow up. I thought about things that weren’t even on my radar yet, like watching them graduate, or drive, or walk down the aisle.
I wrapped my arms around Richard. We had been married 12 years. I wanted 50 more.
Surgeries. Radiation. Chemotherapy.
The odds we were given was 40% of me living five years, and that dropped to a 10% chance when it was all said and done.
Cancer became a teacher, giving me one of my greatest lessons.
What we take for granted is often our greatest treasure.
This year I celebrate 25 years since that diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. I can honestly say that the greatest gift that cancer gave me was to slow down and appreciate my people.
I treasured the crazy driving lessons with three teenagers in three years.
I loved watching my children graduate high school and then college.
I wept as we celebrated three weddings in three years.
It wasn’t perfect, and there were moments where it didn’t necessarily feel like a Norman Rockwell moment, but they mattered.
They didn’t have to be perfect for me to appreciate them.
An hour ago, just right before I wrote and posted this blog post, I rocked six-month old Caleb to sleep. He and Jane are spending the night while mom and dad are away. Caleb is teething, so he needed a little extra attention. He’s six months old and has a smile that gets me every time.
Jame is four and growing up way faster than I want her to, but her favorite place is snuggled with Gaga.
I love that.
I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.
My prayer is that, as busy women, we’ll be aware of what is treasure, and what is just stuff.
Take a look around you.
Hold that child.
Linger in that spouse’s arms.
Play just a moment longer.
Laugh with that loved one.