A disclaimer. I wrote the majority of this post on my phone in the middle of the night while nursing Lydia. It may be more riddled with typos than usual.
There's this spiritual we sing sometimes at church that has been on my mind:
Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.
We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.
You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.
You may be thinking - jeez, what a downer, we need to intervene with Katina stat, In one sense, you're not wrong. I am benefiting greatly from all the support I'm getting via emails and messages (even though I mostly can't respond to them). So keep that coming. I also have some tangible needs for help, e.g., at bedtime with the girls, which are emerging. Though Emily is still able to help, Megajohn was here last night, and my mom arrives Friday. All in all, the ways in which our community is stepping up right now have me completely floored. And grateful.
But despite this outpouring of support and a very real feeling that we are not facing this alone, these verses also emphasize the fact that each of us is grappling with Jeff's illness in our own way. Whether we are his wife, daughter, sister, parent, cousin, friend... this is hitting us differently depending on our personal circumstances. We have to walk our particular road alone.
So, I am trying to use this observation to cultivate empathy - and return some of the kindness I am being shown to others. This awareness reaches beyond my immediate situation too. I am still the same abnormally impatient person you all know me to be, but I'm recognizing that you just never ever know what some random person on the street is facing in their life. Thus, I'm trying to be understanding and think of other people first. Even when asshats in pickup trucks cut me off on my drive to the hospital or someone says something that is inadvertently insensitive.
My other more immediate and crucial insight here relates directly to Jeff. We are still waiting for a final diagnosis and so is he (duh). So I will spare you the details of the medical speculation that we are holding in our hearts. And it is his body that is starting to really hurt, his body that is constantly poked, prodded, and biopsied. And he is the one who gets the un-coveted prize of starting chemo once the diagnosis is finally in. His road is most certainly passing through a valley now and the journey that is to come is going to be a challenge. So please please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Send him strength and courage.