Sometimes I act as if my body is not part of who I am. As Eve Ensler says, I push my body past what it is capable of; I ask of it more than it can give.
I also disconnect things that have happened to my bodies – sex or abuse or judgment – from who I am as a person.
But my body and my mind don’t know that they are separate, and until I – both mind and body – accept that I am not just mind I cannot heal from what has happened to my body.
If I have wounds in my body from my safe, fairly sheltered life, than I cannot imagine the pain that others have in theirs. I can’t imagine what it is to be raped or beaten to near death. Or to have cancer rage through me.
Eve Ensler helps me understand. Maybe she will help you, too.
Suddenly, My Body – Eve Ensler on TED
My dear women, I urge you to take a few minutes and sit through this powerful video. Push through the discomfort we have our bodies and see where Ensler comes out, whole, still scarred, but whole.
Sometimes being a woman—and a mother—brings achingly, painfully beautiful moments into our lives.
Becky and Her Daughter Now
When our daughter was six, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. After her second surgery, Sarah was moved from Intensive Care back to the peds oncology floor and since she was still on morphine and couldn’t walk due to the pain of her incision, she had to use a bedpan.
On one particular night, she called to me that she had to go to the bathroom so I got up to help her. She was in such pain though, that I couldn’t move her and adjust the bedpan at the same time without hurting her even more; I finally rang for help and one of the wonderfully patient nursing assistants appeared almost immediately to lend a hand.
I don’t know why such a simple act would be so indelibly burned into my memory but I will never forget standing there beside my suffering daughter, looking down at her almost naked, scarred, bruised body, and seeing her stripped of the dignity and innocence of her childhood. Since she didn’t possess the strength to walk to the privacy of the bathroom, she was having to attend to one of the most basic and private of human needs with an audience around her.
She was powerless, helpless, dependent, and miserable—there were no sweet smiles, no rosy cheeks, no golden curls. There was only the sight of a small child too weary for the battle and a weeping mother who could do nothing at all to help except kiss the skin on the top of her head and whisper the comforting words that only a broken hearted parent knows how to say.
It seemed to me that the whole world faded away that night and all that remained were the nursing assistant and me, bound together in an intimate, sacred moment of ministering to “the least of these.”
I loved my daughter more at that moment than I ever had before—far more than I did when she was happy and healthy and gorgeous. I loved her with a deeper love than I ever knew could exist for another human being and I was honored to be standing by her in the middle of the night, being a load lifter and an armor-bearer for the beloved, bald soldier of my heart.
I have gazed into the face of sorrow and pain. I have heard a little girl’s whimpers of fear and discomfort. I have seen the compassionate heart of a medical helper. I have seen all of life boiled down to a few holy moments in the middle of the night–moments that were holy because even in the midst of great suffering, peace was in the air, love was in our hearts, and hope was in the room.
Becky Smith is a book addict, cancer mom, blogger, published songwriter, pastor’s wife, thrift store shopper, breast cancer survivor and mashed potato lover.
I was so jazzed I could have jumped up and grabbed the railing on the historic courthouse. That is, if I could jump more than three inches off the ground. And if I wasn’t a little nervous about the return to the courthouse floor.
You see, it was our team kick-off for the Relay for Life event I’m chairing here in my home county. (We don’t really have towns, you see, so we have to call it a “home county,” which sounds very urban for a county that just got it’s first stop light a couple of years ago.) We were bringing people in to hear their stories of how cancer had touched their lives, to get them excited about Relay, to give them information about cancer support services, and to get this event rolling. We have $35,000 to raise to fight cancer, and I am ready.
Nothing gets me more excited than a good cause. This cause – more than any other besides perhaps working to write the people who were enslaved in the U.S. back into history – is very close to my heart. Since I only knew my mother as a woman who had cancer, I have walked all my days with the spector of this disease lingering just behind Mom. Then, when they found another melanoma, when it recurred again, and when this time it took her life, I vowed to do all I could to end this disease for everyone.
In 2012, scientists predict that cancer will overtake heart disease as the number one killer in the United States. If you have suffered from this disease yourself or if you have watched someone you love suffer with it, you now how excruciating it can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We need to stop this.
So last night, when I stood in that historic courthouse and watched people get antsy with excitement about our Relay and our goal, all I could think was, “Yes, Mom yes! This is for you. We will do this for you!”
How has cancer touched your life? Have you had the opportunity to do something to fight it?
I highly encourage you to find a local Relay For Life in your area. It’s a great way to fight cancer, build community, and have a blast!