It’s 2 a.m.
Do you know where your brain is?
Hopefully, if you are a somewhat normal human, it’s quiet, and you’re in a peaceful slumber, blissfully unaware of war and sickness and general awfulness going on in the world at this time.
But, maybe it’s restless. Maybe, you’ve got some worries. Not worries bad enough to cause you an entire sleepless night, but a general level of anxiety that won’t let you drift off. A work project that’s not going well. A family member struggling with depression or an addiction. Or a feeling of relative unease that just won’t quit.
Cancer survivors know these sleep struggles well. The 2 a.m. wake up call by an overactive mind. The bad thoughts while waiting for the latest scan results. Or thinking about a bad scan and trying to figure out what to do next. .
Sometimes the nighttime worries are about the people we love. How do we break the latest news to loved ones? Do you tell your dad, who’s already in a nursing home and won’t really know how to handle the news? You know you have to tell your kids and watch helplessly as their eyes well up with tears.
I am well acquainted with these occasions of brain induced insomnia. I lie awake thinking about my latest scans, about tumors that refuse to shrink, about upcoming appointments and surgeries, of biopsies that I know will hurt, and about how all of this awfulness will affect the ones that I love.
I have seen the tears. I have cried my share.
My latest scan results have once again led to these nighttime struggle sessions. My lymph node tumors have more than tripled in size, so the clinical trial I’ve been participating in is now over for me. Immunotherapy was supposed to work.
So it’s on to the next trial, and to once again hope that it will be the one that knocks the cancer down long enough so I can someday meet my grandchildren. I’m first on the list to start a new trial in November.
Hope is a wonderful thing. But hope is getting harder and harder to hold on to. My trust in God is on shaky ground right now. The verses I keep thinking about are from David, writing from the depths of despair in Psalm 22.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”
But, David takes solace in knowing that God is righteous, and in charge, and in control. The next Psalm, the 23rd, are words we all know. It’s the Psalm of peace, of understanding, of quietly knowing that His presence comforts us.
“He leads me beside quiet waters, and He refreshes my soul”
These are the words of David I need to hold tight to my chest at 2 a.m. These are the words that will comfort me, and quiet my anxious brain, and give me the peace and understanding that I sorely need.
My prayer is that God gives me the ability to keep fighting, to keep caring, and to accept what I can’t change. For a sometimes cynical and naturally pessimistic person, this is a challenge for me. My natural reaction is to curse, and shake my fist at the heavens and plaintively ask, “Why me?”
Why me? Why not me?
If I can tell my story, and it comforts a fellow survivor, why not me? If cancer makes me understand how precious life really is, why not me? If I can get up everyday and go to work, or I can jump on my bike and get 20 miles in, or just continue to live my life to the best of my ability day after day, and that inspires a fellow human to continue to live life to the fullest, even with the troubles life sometimes throws at them, why not me?
If cancer helps me see God in everything in this world, why not me?
It’s 2 a.m. My brain is a jumble of conflicting thoughts and messages that keep me awake. But my brain also knows that God is here. That understanding let’s me rest beside the still waters. It restores my soul. It gives me peace.
Even at 2 a.m.
Thanks for reading.
May God’s peace be with you and the ones you love.