There is this hike me and my friend Annette do, it’s flat and shady for the first half then for the second half it’s completely exposed to the sun with a 40-ish degree incline aka steep aka sweating. Thanks nature. We got to the top and sat under the sparse shade of a tree and between gulps of water I asked how her mom was. Annette’s mom is going through treatment for cancer and as cancer goes it’s been really hard on everyone. She has finished her first round of chemo and is now undergoing radiation. From what I understand radiation is the lesser of two treatments as far as symptoms go but emotionally it has been harder on her mom. Just the office space makes her emotional, the colors and smells and people, it’s all wrapped up in pain and sadness. I was really empathizing with her experience. In someone else’s context all her emotions that felt confusing to her made sense to me. I looked back at myself and all that clarity transferred over, she and I were the same. The familiar sensations, the smell of an alcohol swap and the beeping noise in the elevator, bring to life all that hurt that I’ve spent months gritting my teeth waiting for it to dull. But it’s just humming underneath my conscious thought life waiting for its next moment to make an appearance.
Annette continued on her story about her mom and in relaying a conversation quoted herself saying to her mom, “who are you trying to be brave for?” I almost responded to her like she was talking to me. “I don’t know, I don’t know what else to be,” I almost said.
They are implanting an embryo again on Saturday. I’m doping up on hormones while I wait. I’m feeling ok, I think. My friend Nick asked how I was and I stared in the distance for what was probably a little too long until he said, “you don’t know.” Nick understands grief and the complications that come with it. He gets the nuance of faith in the middle of the unknown and unanswered prayers and he always gives language to what is so deep within me, the bits that I’m unable to gather up and describe.
Our conversation wandered to prayer and I was telling him how I have had such a difficult time in prayer. He related to how I was feeling and said something like, “I remember thinking, God I can’t ask for this, because if you say no I don’t know what that will do to us. I don’t know if our relationship can sustain your silence.” My eyes got big and I went quiet. I thought yes, I would rather not have a reason to blame God and instead just be able to point my finger at chance, cruel but unbiased chance.
I just nodded my head like I was thoughtless, when inside all these flailing pieces of my heart were finding their place. Like those videos of glass shattering in reverse, where the tiny pieces go from strayed chaos and find themselves in their proper place amongst the greater piece. I don’t think I said more than five words in our conversation, I couldn’t seem to find them.
I keep praying anyways, even though I have a sometimes visceral response that forces me into silence. I’ve assessed the risks and I’ve decided to hope anyways. I was at a concert last night and the guy was telling some story I can’t remember, but at the end he said, “so I’m telling you tonight Los Angeles, to get your hopes up.” In the anonymity of the crowd I let myself cry. This is progress, releasing myself from controlling all my feelings and letting myself be tired and sad and afraid and Lord help me, hopeful.