The hardest thing about this whole adventure (for me, at least) are the folks I’ve started calling Hyper-Hopers.
They’re folks who say, “Gerry WILL beat this, the doctor’s aren’t always right! Don’t lose hope!” They desperately NEED for me to jump on the Hope Train with them.
When I run into someone like this, I feel that I MUST hope for the same things they’re hoping for, or I’m letting them down.
And it’s not just plain, simple hope they want me to espouse (we have that in buckets full) but it’s an irrational, hiding-from-the-truth, XTREME, HOPE.
I’ve come to the conclusion that because they don’t entirely believe what they’re saying, it’s vital to them that I believe what they’re saying – almost as if my sanction of their belief is what’s most important. It’s like asking me to carry their purse, or books, or belief structure for them.
They ask too much of folks who are just trying to get through a very rough patch in life.
They want to use Gerry’s illness as some kind of morality play where a truly POSITIVE person will recover, while a less positive person will fade. Trial by cancer.
But I think – at the heart of it – they want us to do what they do every day – ignore mortality.
We used to be able to do this, we can’t do it anymore. And it’s not a bad thing – this understanding that life will have an end. The folks who tell us that “Gerry WILL beat this!” – how do they know?
Some have told me that “God will work a miracle, Gerry will be cured!” but that’s too easy to say, and ignores the responsibility we each bear for our own lives.
There have been miracles. To my mind, the kids are miracles. The fact that Gerry and I found each other is miraculous. And the fact that we can laugh through this truly terrifying experience is also a miracle.
But I don’t – not for one minute – believe that we’ll go to the doctor tomorrow and he’ll say, “You’re totally clean, no cancer, all signs are perfect and you’ll live to ripe old age…”
And, of course, that’s the catch 22 – if I say out loud that I don’t believe there will be a “Hallelujah! Cancer is Cured!” bona-fide miracle, it’s a Gotcha! moment when some of the more fervent adherents to the ‘miracle theory’ might say – “See, THAT’S why there hasn’t been a miracle! She didn’t BELIEVE!”
Oh, goody, more crap for me to carry around!
This is so different from the many kind folks who simply say, “We’ll be praying for you.” – which is lovely. They don’t need anything back from us – they don’t need us to say, “Yes, you’re right, we WILL beat this!” or anything like that. They don’t even need me to say, “Thank you” – although I do – because they’re offering this as a gift.
When I want to convey a sense of solidarity with sick friends, I generally say, “We’ll be thinking of you…” because sometimes introducing the prayer thing can be a burden to the person who’s ill. But if folks want to pray for us, then that’s fine.
Just don’t expect to pray with us. That’s too personal.
So here are the truisms we’ve learned in this stage of the journey:
- Unrealistic Hope is expensive, and we’re on a budget.
- When someone is in a very bad situation, don’t tell them what YOU want them to hope for (ie, recovery), just hope they have a good day. That’s enough.
- So far most of our doctors have been right – and miracle workers, too.