When you meet suffering, bring light

In 2005 while undergoing chemotherapy, I was sitting in an uncomfortable recliner on the sixth floor of the medical facility.

An IV dripped poison into my veins that would simultaneously cure me of the cancer in my body, and wreak havoc on it, sending waves of nausea, chills, malaise.

The concoction did not discriminate between healthy and cancer cells. It killed almost everything. This rendered me alive, but sick, bald, and weak.

As I sat looking out the shaded glass windows which overlooked the busy downtown area where I was receiving this treatment, I remember feeling amazed that as I sat, literally fighting for my life, my world falling apart, not only from cancer but being exhausted having just had a new baby right before my diagnosis, the rest of the world seemed not to care one bit.

People carried about their normal activities with no perception about my own personal agony. I watched businessmen in suits on the sidewalk below, hurrying to their destinations.

Women with bags of lunch from the deli were laughing as they scurried out of sight. A mother, unlike me, a seemingly healthy mother, was pushing a stroller with a child.

The sun rose and traveled across the sky in cheerful apathy to the deep suffering I experienced for six unbearably long hours each chemo session.

Flash forward.

Yesterday I was listening to a talk radio program. A teenager who had escaped without injury during the recent Las Vegas shooting had called into the show.

She was understandably quite traumatized. Her boyfriend had thrown his body on top of her then they got up and ran.

She was scared. She was heartbroken. She felt guilty that she was alive and others weren’t. “The world is just going on around me and I can’t get past this.”

I completely understood.

The practicing psychotherapist talk show host kindly empathized with the girl then made a suggestion I thought was very wise. Continue reading

  • Theresa Thomas is a Catholic mother of nine children. She lives in Indiana.


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