I began writing this entry about a week ago and I found that my frame of mind was just a bit too ….. angry. So as I often do, I set it aside to give it more thought and finish it later. After some reflection and talking it over with a few trusted friends, I think I have gained some new perspective and am ready to try it again.
A while ago I went back to the hospital to visit a sweet lady who had been a hospital roommate of mine. She is also battling cancer and is having a rough time of it. I had hoped to bring her some encouragement. When I got there, however, she was enjoying some much-needed sleep so instead I visited with her daughter.
She told me about the rough journey her mother has had over the past few weeks and it broke my heart to hear of her suffering. But the thing that bothered me most was hearing about others who couldn’t handle the reality and unpleasantness of her illness. Deserted her in her time of need.
I’ve heard stories of similar experiences from others and even known of a few folks like this. They can’t deal with it so they close their eyes to it, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and they run away. They may be the folks who should be stepping up to help, the ones who are needed the most. But POOF! They just vanish. They don’t visit, don’t call, don’t write, can’t even acknowledge what’s happening because THEY can’t handle it! Often this means that responsibilities all fall to one family member, or to a caring friend or neighbor (thank God for them!).
I’ve also witnessed (many times!) husbands who don’t come with their wives for their treatments. They wait in the car, because coming into the oncology office is too depressing to them. OR, worse yet, they go to work and their wife has to drive herself to and from chemo (and fix dinner for him when he gets home). Are you screaming yet?
This is the point where I got really angry, and although I thought it was a righteous anger, perhaps I need to try to view the situation from these peoples’ eyes. I want to tell them to grow up and learn to deal with real life, including the “icky” parts, but perhaps there’s more to their reaction than I realize. Perhaps there is an experience in their past that makes this situation especially painful for them and is why they run from it. I also have to realize that not everyone has faith in Christ, which is what gives me strength and gets me through this. I pray that they will find it.
But a friend of mine also pointed out that this kind of reaction may be yet another by-product of this self-centered society we’ve become. Individuals have become so focused on their own happiness and comfort, that they have forgotten how to express compassion to those who are hurting. I want to shake them and remind them that someday life’s “unpleasantness” may happen to them too. Imagine what it’s like for the person facing the illness. We don’t have the luxury of running away – it’s with us 24 hours a day. They may feel guilty and have regrets when it’s too late and that loved one is gone, so try to get a handle on it now. Life isn’t always comfortable and pleasant.
If you are one of those dear sufferers who has been deserted, my heart goes out to you, and I hope you have found comfort in the One who will never leave you or forsake you. Thank you, Lord that when times are tough and humans fail me, You are always by my side.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15