For one, I didn’t know what myeloma was — all I knew was that “oma” meant “super scary.” But even after learning that it was a type of bone marrow cancer and that chances were it wasn’t aggressive and chances were he had many more years ahead of him and chances were the world wasn’t going to end, I was straining to grasp onto things that were certain. Because two hours prior, I was certain that things would go on as it always had and I ended up being wrong about that. It’s not that I actually knew the future, I just thought I did — and now I know I don’t.
“Not knowing” is really high on my list of Things I Hate. I know so little that you’d think I’d have made my peace with it by now, but knowing things — even if they aren’t fun things — makes me feel secure. There is some really solid and comforting about having a full grasp on what’s going on.
Needless to say, the phrase “dad has cancer and we don’t know any more than that” sort-of-kind-of pulled the rug out from under me. It was like climbing up the rocky hillsides where I live — the basalt looks solid, but when you step on it, you find that it’s loose. And there I am, sliding down and flailing for something that will hold.
At some point I went for a walk when I heard what I’ve heard many times before: Start with what you know. When your’re overwhelmed by what you don’t know, when you’re facing the unknown, start with what you do know.
And I started into the Psalms. God is good — never has He brought me evil; I am deeply loved; God hears me — and He answers; He will fulfill His purposes for me; He is with me — I am not alone; darkness is not dark to Him; I am safe — there is no place I can escape His protection; God’s love endures forever. Each phrase that held some truth I needed, I’d chant over and over and over as my feet hit the pavement until I got it down. Sometimes you’ve gotta force-feed yourself truth.
Psalms 56:9 says “This I know, that God is for me.” And with that, I’ve kept a running list of things that I know, which may come in handy on the days I’m not sure.
After some time waiting, it appears that my dad is looking at a best case scenario where the cancer is not aggressive and where the doctor expects many more years ahead. This is good news, comparatively, but I also know it’s nothing I can count on. I’m glad there are things that I can.