When something bad happens to us, who’s to blame? Or what is to blame? It seems like there should always be something that caused it, therefore possibly providing a way to fix it or at least a way to come to terms with it. But, what if sometimes, there is nobody to blame? What if there is no explanation for it? What then? How do we get past that? There are already so many question marks in this one paragraph alone. These are the types of questions that have been swirling around in my mind since this journey began. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
About a week and a half ago, my chest port was removed and replaced with a CVC, or a central venous catheter to prepare me for more chemotherapy and my bone marrow transplant. My husband, mother, and sister came up to Houston that weekend to visit with my father and I before I was admitted into the hospital. I’d been told at the hospital not to let the dressing around my CVC get wet when I took a shower. That Saturday night, my husband and I made a trip to the nearest pharmacy to arm ourselves with some plastic Ziploc bags and medical tape to rig a waterproof seal for the CVC.
My mother and I went off into a guest bedroom at my uncle‘s house where we were staying to get the CVC covered up. It was not as easy as we thought it was going to be and my mother was having a hard time covering it up. As we both started getting annoyed, she asked a question aloud that alarmed me. “What did I do wrong?” she asked. I just stared at her because I knew what she meant. “Did I not breastfeed you long enough? I only did it for a week. Maybe I should have done it longer. I should have tried harder.”
I couldn’t believe that she was feeling this way. “Mom! You didn’t do anything wrong. These things just…happen,” I replied. I felt like crying so I stopped talking so that I could swallow the knot that had formed in my throat. I didn’t want her to feel more guilty if I started crying. She didn’t say anything else and proceeded to finish covering my CVC. We both decided not to talk about it and tread into those waters but I knew she still felt like she was to blame. I knew nothing I said would make her understand that none of this is her fault. I guess any mother would blame herself for their child’s medical problems even if it’s completely unfounded.
Just as my mother blames herself no matter what I tell her, I have wasted so much time trying to figure out what was to blame for this or at least to understand why this happened to me. Why me?
After much soul-searching, praying, and screaming at God for being unfair, I find that I still don’t have the answers to those questions. Now, I’ve come to accept the fact that I might not ever know the answers until I reach the pearly gates of heaven one day and get to ask God himself. I imagine it would go something like this:
Me: “God, why did I have to go through all that pain and suffering? What was the point?”
God: “It’s not all about you.”
Me: “Oh, ok. Well, thanks for letting me into heaven.”
At least that’s what I see in my meek mind’s eye. My husband gave me a quote by Oswald Chambers a couple of days ago that much more clearly explained what is going on in my life:
“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. Because of this process, you will never be surprised by what comes your way.”
When I first received my diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, my doctor knew what I was thinking without me having to ask. He looked me in the eye and said that they still didn’t know what caused lymphoma or a lot of other types of cancer for that matter. He told me that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that these types of things “just happen”. I’d never experienced such personal tragedy but it’s definitely been an eye-opening experience. It awoke me from my spiritual coma and has allowed God to use me as a tool for His kingdom instead of going through life blinded to others’ pain and suffering.
This trial has awoken a deep-rooted passion for others, like myself, in desperate need of a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Where before I knew nothing and cared not about it, I now yearn to tell anybody who will listen to me about the immense need for donors. Should I ‘blame’ anything or anybody for something so good? On the other hand, when it’s something good, we look for someone to thank not blame. So, I thank God for this. I don’t blame Him or anyone else. I don’t blame myself. I don’t blame anything for what is happening right now. It’s all about the bigger picture. It’s not about me. Perhaps the picture is too big for me to see right now.
To clarify, I am not perfect. I have my good days and I have my bad days. The bad days are full of worry and doubt and it’s only human. On one of my particularly bad days, I was watching Oprah’s new interview show where she was interviewing rapper 50 Cent. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this and what the heck does 50 Cent have to do with any of this. It turns out he’s a pretty deep guy. He’s been through some intense, life-threatening situations which Oprah asked him about. He replied: “Either pray or worry. Don’t do both.” He said that God has a plan and he used to have issues with the plan but it doesn’t make sense to worry about it.
So, I’m going to try this ‘pray but don’t worry’ thing as best I can and like 50 Cent says, “we’re gonna party like it’s your birthday!” Hey shorty, T minus 4 days until my transplant birthday.