Today is “D Day”: Diagnosis Day.
Twenty years ago TODAY we heard the words “Malignant.”
It was December 10, 1997.
I had survived a four hour surgery. I was eight months pregnant and our daughter was still alive there inside me. The large tumor had been removed that was lodged right beside her. Twenty-nine staples lined my body which matched my age.
At twenty nine I had ovarian cancer. I was still pregnant.
A long road was ahead.
I don’t remember much about that day. I do recall begging my mom from that bed in the ICU to tell me the truth about what they had found. I slipped in and out of consciousness, struggling with what I would later understand to be pulmonary edema, fighting contractions, and complications from the surgery from the many medications that were pumping through my body. My life and my daughter’s life were precarious.
This man carried the weight of my cancer diagnosis and the worry. He spent much of his time in the hallway. My mom and his parents did too.
We all walked hallways. The in-between places.
He paced the hallways between the NICU and the cancer floor. He fought for me and for our family and he hasn’t stopped fighting.
I survived ovarian cancer. Barely. Our daughter Shelby was born 15 days after cancer was removed from my body, at 6:14 Christmas morning. Don’t ask her if she dislikes having her birthday on Christmas. She’ll tell you she shares a birthday with Jesus. We all understand the miraculous nature of it all.
Each year on D Day I have a range of emotions. I feel deeply blessed, incredibly awed that I even get another year on this planet, and I also relive the sadness, the despair, the “unfairness” of it all.
This morning I looped my arm around my son in church, him standing much taller than me. I can hardly believe he was born 2 ½ years after my diagnosis. The biggest miracle of all. I nearly doubled over with gratitude.
Today I remembered this specific memory:
A year after my diagnosis, when my hair was just beginning to grow back and our daughter was learning to take her first wobbly steps I asked my husband a weighty question.
“I never saw you, your parents or my mom cry in my room during that really scary time. I mean, samples were being sent to Johns Hopkins and twenty-three people were in the room when Shelby was born and I just kept thinking everything was fine because you were all so strong.”
I have never forgotten his response.
“You weren’t in the hallway. There were a lot of tears and hugs in the hallway.”
We all know hallways, yes?
The places between the now and and the not yet. The shuffling about in confusion. The questioning of everything, including God. I was in the room, battling in my own way but so many others were in the hallway.
I almost didn’t post about my “D Day” today. I figured maybe it was time to just keep all my melancholy emotions to myself. But then I thought of you- ALL of you in hallways this holiday season.
Those of you pacing, struggling, hurting, and questioning in hallways. Hospital hallways, yes, but also maybe just in caverns of pain and loss. Maybe with empty chairs around your table.
If you are in a hallway this year I just want you to know that today, on my personal D Day, I see you. I don’t know what the thing is that brought you here. But I do know that God is tender enough to have come to this world in the most vulnerable of moments, in the most unexpected, broken, forgotten place that He could have showed up.
He will show up in your hallway.
Hallways are holy.