…the moment a name is given the disease, the whole thing is changed: fright ensues, and horrible depression, and the life that has learned its sentence is not worth the living. Medicine has its office, it does its share and does it well; but without hope back of it, its forces are crippled and only the physician's verdict can create that hope when the facts refuse to create it.
Mark Twain—Letter to Dr. W. W. Baldwin, May 15, 1904
Sunshine and rain, cartwheels and pain. I didn’t make up that title. It’s my daughter’s concoction of words to describe what she’s going through in her life right now.
As I told you before, my son-in-law, Mike, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He’s very young. He’s almost 35.
On September 1, Mike had surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. On September 27, he will begin radiation for some smaller tumors on the brain, as well as chemotherapy treatments for the lung cancer. The brain surgery was a success, and he did remarkably well. Had the surgery on a Wednesday and was back home on the Friday of the same week. If you could not see the scar on his head, you’d never know he’d been through such a major procedure.
My daughter, Lyndie, has been an extreme optimist during this part of their life’s journey. She’s courageous on the outside as well as inside. Of course she sees the negative possibilities—I know, we’ve spoken about it. In fact, she’s been one of that small army of very young wives who’ve had to take on the daunting task, with her husband, of making out a living will which was a stark thump on the head to the very real possibility of the unthinkable—Mike’s NOT surviving this illness.
Lyndie has always been an optimist. You know the type. The ‘glass half-full’. Me? It’s just a damn glass. Half-full, half-empty, it’s still just a glass. I’m not negative, not positive, just somewhere in between. Life just IS.
That being said, now I find myself clinging to my daughter’s positive spirit. Damn, that optimism comes in handy at times like these.
But I was hurt for Lyndie when someone made these comments to her—on a VERY public forum—regarding her cheerful spirit in dealing with Mike’s illness: You’re delusional. What’s it like to live in Lyndie-land?
Nah. I take that back. I’m not hurt. I’m angry, crazy angry that—at this traumatic time in my dear daughter’s life—somebody, anybody, would take the opportunity to lash out their own bitterness to her, to attempt to kick her legs out from under her.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing this person for not being optimistic. Believe it or not, I’m not even knocking them for resenting my daughter’s bright personality. There’s no rule that says we have to like everybody, that we have to like every type of personality.
It’s just the timing, the cruelty of the timing. And, comically, it reminded me of Dracula’s cowering at the sight of the upheld cross. To see such hatred displayed to a person, just because that person is a perpetual optimist, reminds me so much of that old scene where the vampire hisses and crouches at the symbol of good.
But to this person who chose to unleash their bitterness at this time—this time when my daughter is drawing from her own reserve of whatever it is that gets her through her husband’s extremely serious illness—I thank you. Yes, I thank you.
Your expression of resentment has caused ME to look deeper, to see just how much I DO appreciate my daughter’s strength. She’s one damn strong woman, no matter how bubbly and cheerleader-like she may seem. That’s just on the outside, baby. Inside that very pretty, glowing persona is a woman who has been through the fire, has MADE it through the fire, and who come out on the other side as strong as steel. And who is now stepping into yet another fire, the biggest fire of her life.
If my daughter—or anyone for that matter—chooses to see the damn glass half-full or filled-to-overflowing, then let her, damn it. You drink from whatever glass you see fit, and let others drink from theirs.
A dear friend of mine is dealing with cancer also. His approach is practical, and my approach with him, toward HIS illness, is also practical. Because that’s how he wants it. But he’d be the first to say that you must let the persons dealing with the crisis handle it in their own way. And so it is with Mike and Lyndie.
This Lyndie-land that my daughter has chosen to live is her choice, and it gets her through this, and gives her the strength to walk beside Mike during this trial. Lyndie-land may sound all gingerbread, cotton-candy and peppermint sticks. But let me tell you. It only SEEMS that way. In reality, it’s a tough impenetrable fortress that houses a strong, strong woman. A woman I’m so proud of I can hardly bear the huge pride.
Lyndie refers to it as sunshine and rain, cartwheels and pain. That about sums it up. So, in spite of her cheeriness which this person has found so annoying…my daughter also knows the pain. And she’s handling it much, much better than I ever could. With courage and grace…and a smile.
Here’s to you, Lyndie.