Marissa is easy to love.
It’s hard to remember before cancer, before diagnosis, before fear. But it’s not hard to remember her. It’s not hard to remember blonde curls and dress-up days and tea parties. It’s not hard to remember soccer games and family trips and bedtime chats.
I remember. I remember that I have always loved her. That from the moment I knew she was growing inside me, she was forever cherished, forever loved.
But there is no question that cancer increased love’s intensity. It increased love’s actions. It increased love’s sacrifices.
When you know your child is facing a grave illness, there is something tight that winds up inside you. Something that stays tight until love unwinds it, loosens it, and lets it go. The action of loving brings some focus and purpose to bleak days. It’s always easier when we can do something to help, when we can fill up our day with doing.
And I find myself serving Marissa. Dropping whatever I’m doing to make her breakfast or a snack. Leaving the dishes to take a walk around the block. Changing my schedule to go to doctor’s appointments. I find myself delighting in her and trying to make her laugh. I listen to her and look for opportunities to let her talk. I spend my free time researching her cancer type and emailing researchers and doctors. I copy articles and read books and take notes.
I am purposeful and joyful in loving her. I count it a privilege to be her mom and to have her here and to minister to her.
Cancer love never minds being interrupted. It never overlooks an opportunity to help. It never gets annoyed at delays or changed plans. Cancer love gives up its own agenda, is always concerned for another’s well being. It extends itself, joyfully serves, faithfully gives. It is content to make someone else happy, to meet someone else’s need.
Cancer love is a lot like 1 Corinthians 13 love. Turns out it’s a lot like plain old love.
I think my husband and my other children would benefit from some plain old love. I think I’ll remember that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. That I have been given this day to love my people. That each one of them is precious and priceless and mine.
I’ll remember that babies turn into toddlers who turn into children who turn into teenagers who turn into grownups. And while some of those stages are more tiring, more stressful, more challenging and require more sacrifice, they all require love. Love that unwinds and loosens and lets go. Unwinds its tight grip of self; loosens and lets go of its rights.
Cancer love. Plain old love. God’s love.
Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (l Corinthians 13:4-8)