So Close: From Tumor to Email

When I recently sat in prayer and was prompted to give myself a breast exam (it’s odd, but God’s ways are sometimes), I was surprised to find a pea size tumor in my left breast. Was I feeling what I thought I was feeling? I was—I could find it over and over again. 

I went on a walk a few days after finding the tumor. I looked up at the mountains and heard, “I’ve got this.”

You’ve got what God? What is this

As people of faith, we can sometimes be tempted to over spiritualize things—everything becomes a sign toward an end that we design. When I’m tempted toward this reason-making method, I remind myself, God’s ways are not my ways. He’s always working, and my job is not to figure him out, to make his work make sense. My job is to try to trust, to be faithful to the next step.

When I went to my doctor, she said, “The tumor is probably nothing, but I’d like you to get a mammogram and an ultrasound.” When I laid on the ultrasound table after getting my breasts smashed in the mammogram, the radiologist said, “It’s probably nothing, but I’d like to do a biopsy.”

I got into the car, and I cried. And for days I waited, thinking it was probably nothing, but also could be something. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew God already knew. 

In the days I waited to get a biopsy, my friend who has breast cancer left me an encouraging note and a bar of chocolate, because she knows what it feels like to wait. And friends prayed for me, offered their Masses for me, and sent sweet texts. More women than I realized knew what it was like to wait, not knowing if something in their breast was benign or not. Maybe you know this in between, too.

When I laid on the table, quiet, breast exposed, waiting for the biopsy to begin, I asked, “Jesus, would you just lay here with me?” And I heard him say, “I am here.”

I am here.

In the days of waiting between the biopsy and results, our Mother, Mary, invited me to stop in the midst of my children splashing in the water table, making paper airplanes, and playing pretend. To sit and pray a Rosary. To just be with her. And miracle of miracles, I prayed a whole Rosary in the midst of the chaos. Sore and swollen breast, children running around without a care, my own cares swirling—she was there with me, so close.

Then the day came. I was folding laundry and thought I might as well check my email. There it was: “Good news, the tumor is benign.” I walked into the garage, out of my children’s sight, and fell to my knees and wept. “Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.” My whole self flushed with gratitude and relief. I cried off and on for hours that day.

As I journey as a disciple, I sometimes feel I don’t know as much about God as I thought I did. But, every once in a while he helps me understand something more deeply about him. In the weeks between finding the tumor and getting the email, he showed me: I am so close. God is so close to us in the vulnerable and tender moments of our lives. When we sit or stand or lay, feeling naked, he is so close. He wants nothing from us, just permission to be beside us, and whisper lovingly, “I am here.”

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