I have an aunt who is not just an aunt. She moved into my house and heart when I was five years old and never left. Last year, she was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer and for the last three months she has been in and out of the hospital. The night before I left for the Pikes Peak conference, she fell and broke her femur. The doctor told my parents that he would need to install several pins and rods into the bone for it to properly heal. A concern because her body is chemo-compromised. The day I pitched my manuscript, I prayed for her, that whatever was meant to happen, would. She survived. However, the doctor found severe osteoporosis, which will speed the cancer’s destruction.
What I am writing, I have not shared with my best friend that I have known since college, nor my friend who I run with or my other friend that I’ve known ten plus years. I do not want to hear the dreaded question “How are you?” For I have played this game before. I played it when my thirty-eight year-old cousin died of brain cancer leaving four children behind. The youngest only two. And when my mother-in-law, whom I adored, unexpectedly died. From them, I have learned that my scientific and church friends do not have the answers. That there are no answers. That there is nothing to heal her. Heal me.
If you see me running, you might mistake the grimace on my face, or the big gulps of air, or the sweat that runs down my face as physical exertion and physical pain. They are not. They are the evidence of what happens to me when I allow myself to feel. To face the truth. The truth I do not want to see.
There are others like me, who bury their emotions six feet under the recesses of their mind. Who smile, laugh, and appear to have an easy, good life. Look closely. For if you do, you just might be able to detect the pain behind the smile.