This morning, after another wonderful night of sleep, I was chatting with a new friend for a moment and she kept telling me I am brave. The first time she said it, I kind of brushed it off. The second time she was a bit more insistent, so I thanked her and changed the subject as quickly as I could.
When I was in the hospital, the nurses, the Eucharistic Minister, the volunteers all kept telling me how brave I am for accepting what was wrong and going after it as aggressively as possible. I heard people tell me how unusual it is for someone my age to volunteer for a bilateral mastectomy when it was possible to get away with a lumpectomy. Of course, as things have turned out, a lumpectomy would have been a terrible choice: I would still have had cancer with only a lumpectomy.
People tell me my humor in all of this is what tells them I am brave. People tell me that the fact I am not breaking under this pressure shows them I am brave. They give me numerous reasons and examples that are “proof” to them of my bravery and strength.
News flash people: I am NOT brave. I am pretty amazed that I seem brave to anyone, considering I know what is going on in my head. I don’t feel brave, not for a minute. Strong…well, okay, that I can identify with, even in my weak moments. But brave? You would have to live with the fear inside me to fully realize how opposite of brave I really am.
I have always had an awkwardness about taking compliments, but this is not what is happening here. Doing what is necessary does not automatically make a person brave. I may have been more aggressive in my surgical approaches to cancer than most women of 34 years would be, but I have two children for whom I am all and everything. Their other parent barely communicates with them at all, and, in their words he just breaks his promises. They have a lengthy list of who they would like to live with BEFORE him, should something happen to me. But, the bottom line here is that nothing can happen to me. Not permanently. I am and have been their only stability and love and trust for their entire lives. I cannot leave them now, when my job is only part way done.
It’s not bravery. It’s love. Love is what is getting me through the hard decisions. Love is what gives me humor about it at times. Love is the part that also makes my heart ache for the life we used to have, without cancer, and it is that which makes me cry (twined alongside my fears).
A happy Sunday, and blessings to all…