That glorious season book-ended by gentle breezes and sweltering heat with long sunny days tucked in between.
Every summer has familiar bliss…
For me, it’s a chorus of cicadas giving music to midnight and the ocean’s roar singing bold at dawn.
It’s tasting the sweet from a juicy Georgia peach…
Or feeling sugar white sand between my toes.
Those things are fixtures of the season, but every summer also has it’s own unique personality, mostly made up by the things I do, the people I spend time with and the lessons I learn…
This summer is a little different for me.
My body is in the process of healing after the diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
To help the healing, one of my doctors has me getting iron infusions.
I had my third one earlier this week.
When I get them, I sit next to a window, as energy in the form of iron drips into my vein.
All around me are people getting chemotherapy.
They are fighting for their health. Some for their lives.
I’ve met a few. One, a delightful 80 year old woman, Ava* who has stage 3 lung cancer. She’s small in frame with a head full of gray curly hair which she’s hoping to hold on to. Eva has twinkling eyes and a mischievous smirk.
“So. What kind of cancer do you have?” She’s looking at me wide eyed and I’m shocked at the question. I’ve been sitting quietly and wondering what kind of cancer she has but wouldn’t dare ask her. Isn’t there a rule about patient confidentially or something?
“I have Celiac Disease. I’m just here getting iron infusions because my body isn’t absorbing nutrients at the moment”. My voice lowers, “I don’t have cancer” I stop just short of apologizing as my fingers squeeze tight around the spine of my book.
She’s mater-of-fact when she continues, “I have stage 3 lung cancer. But I’m a survivor”.
There’s no time for me to respond before she goes on…
“I gave birth to seven children, lost a daughter at four months old to crib death, one at six” she pauses and lets out a slow breath, “she was run over by a car, my twenty-five year old son committed suicide and while we were traveling, my husband died of a heart attack. He was only 50 . During every one of those things I was sure I wouldn’t survive. But I did. And I’ll survive this too, one way or another. “
My mouth opened to speak but there were no words. How in heaven’s name could this woman be sitting here in her right mind after living through such loss…
Suddenly the words came and they flew out of my mouth, because I had to know, “Can you tell me how you survived”?
She looked at me with eyes moist, “I guess it’s because when I used to go to church” her voice is almost a whisper now, ” I was taught that the day you’re born and the day you die is planned by God. I never could understand all that, It’s way over my head. But there’s a lot of things I believe that I don’t understand.
She goes on sounding a bit spunky, “like how this chemo kills my cancer”.
Gingerly Ava lifts the IV tube a little above her port and holds it towards me. “I’m telling you, sitting here week after week, counting on that” she points up at the small IV bag, “whatever it is in there, to shrink all this cancer… well, that takes a leap of faith”.
Letting go of the IV tube and looking straight ahead her words trail off and I can’t tell if she’s still talking to me or to herself…
“I’m old enough to have learned that I don’t have to understand something to believe it”.
We sit quietly for awhile. Ava crocheting while I marvel at the way this summer is unfolding.
Marvel at God so gently teaching me more and more about my one-little-word.
Marvel that I’m slowly learning to believe…
What’s God teaching you this summer my sweet friends?