I read reports written by my cousin on the progress of her six year old daughter with brain cancer and their family. In the last one, the daughter was being cast for a head mold that will be bolted to the table when she gets radiation, and tears were coming from the eyeholes. Her mother had trouble watching her child in discomfort and said "No one should ever have to go through this."
That statement creeped me out, made my skin crawl. How awful to have to go though something that no one should every have to go though. It's hateful.
I think that, rather, what she is going though is something that some people have to go through to claim their health, to claim their lives. I think that no matter how hard it is, it is the best process we have to let her embrace life, that many have done it, and it is what it is.
Which tastes better, a candy bar someone hands you or one you got for winning the sack race? Which is sweeter, a candy bar from the dish, or one you got special for getting all your assignments in over a month?
It's what we earn that is always better than what we are given. And I don't know why, but creation has asked this girl to work for her life rather than just have it being given to her. And it's my suspicion, my guess, my hope that because she has had to fight for her life she will value it more than those who have just been able to take it for granted, that it will be sweeter and more full because she knows how precious her life is, knows how precarious and how precious life is.
I'm not sending this to her family, because I know that this idea might seem crass or odd to them. After all, they just see her as a little girl being placed into unfair situations that no one should ever have to go though. They can't yet work on the part that sees challenge as a gift, sees crises as an opportunity for learning & growth.
But I hope someday that pretty little girl will have someone who can help her see her life that way, who can remind her how the darkness helps us value the light, how going though our own fight can reinforce the good things we value in us.
It's hard, and it seems capricious, but lots of humans go through things that we would rather no human ever need to go though, from wars to famine, from disasters to racism, from illness to abuse. To me, it's important that we see those challenges as part of the process of being alive, as part of the requirement to make hard choices in a finite & challenging world, choices that reveal what is fundamental and what is essential, what is comforting illusion and what is of real value.
You sweat, you fight. You do the difficult immediately while the impossible takes a little longer. And you find out what is important, using what is precious to you in the best way you can. It's when you are cracked wide open that you grow, opening new spaces and being open to new people who also are touched by pain, sweat, challenge and possibility. Maybe everyone has to go though "something no human should have to go though" sometime in their life, maybe even seeing their children in pain they can't stop. Maybe that's what really connects all humans, "having to go though what no human should have to go though."
May God bless that little girl, bless all the little boys and girls who are fighting illness, bless all the humans who fight illness around the world, all the people who fight their own battles, and show them that by moving beyond comfort we can find what is really beautiful and sweet in this life.