I had just sat down with my co-worker at a local Mexican restaurant when I received the call. It was my sister crying. I asked her if she was okay. All she could mutter was “they found a lump and confirmed it was cancer.” The many psychology classes that I had had over the years taught me that assimilating objects during trauma events can happen consciously and subconsciously. After that call; Mexican restaurants made me sick to my stomach.
My sister is the oldest of 6 and in family sibling constellation she plays the part to a T. She’s the caretaker, level-headed, responsible, follows the rules, introvert-type. Basically, everything I am not. I am second in line and I am the outgoing, spontaneous, peacemaker that wants everything to be fair. My sister basically raised my girls and without her occasional dinners the nights my husband works late; my children would be subjected to either cereal or Mac-n-cheese.
My sister is in the medical field. No amount of bodily fluids bothers her. Me, on the other hand, just about fainted typing bodily fluid. When my niece was born my sister and her BFF thought it would be great that I experience the miracle of childbirth. All I remember is she stopped pushing long enough to say, “why are you petting my finger?” It’s because I was trying to get to a happy place in my mind and not realizing where I was at for a moment. Let’s just say God knew I was meant to adopt.
When her cancer showed its ugly face, things changed a lot. My kids’ nutrition for one sort of tanked (okay I’m exaggerating slightly here, but I wouldn’t be a good “second-in-line” in the family constellation if I didn’t). I just really hate cooking and love to be taken care of…there I said it. Plus, my sister makes really good food. The biggest thing that changed is the role reversal between my sister and myself. It was her turn to be taken care of and I was fine with taking care of her. What I was not fine with was how this role reversal affected me.
Through this role reversal I had my sister turning to me for emotional support. I was not used to this. She was the strong one. I was in no way prepared for this, yet she needed me to be, so I had no choice but to power through and figure out what she needed. I was not myself, but more importantly my sister was not herself. I knew one day we would get back to where we were it would just take time.
God gives you only what you can handle…I had to say it again and several times…God gives you only what you can handle. I typically am always trying to figure out what am I supposed to learn from situations. I thought this one was pretty simple…giving up control. I was completely wrong. While yes cancer does not allow for a person to have control over their body or sometimes mind and spirit, but it had little to do with this. Last night in my dream; it came to me from 3 little words I wrote on my sister’s notes while at one of her doctor’s visits…. You’re Gonna Live.
My mom, my sister’s amazing BFF Kari, and I would attended her doctor’s visits and naturally me being a Social Worker I did the only thing I knew, write notes. I wrote pages of notes; often verbatim because I didn’t want to miss an important detail. On her first visit, of course like all cancer patients their main question is “am I going to live?” This was the last question, so by this point my hand wouldn’t stop writing or I was just hoping to cheer my sister up by making her laugh; surely she would call me a dork…she did. These words though are exactly what God is trying to teach us (or remind us). To live. Whether we have anxiety about not being good at something or not having control over something or are depressed about something. It got me thinking:
Plus, my notes are never wrong …You’re gonna live!
I think tomorrow for the first time in nearly a year I am going to eat Mexican and it’s going to taste delicious!