The human body and mind are pretty amazing. We, thankfully, have the ability to forget physical pain and discomfort. We remember it on one level, but as long as we feel good now, we tend to forget how awful we may have felt previously. It's why women are willing to go through childbirth more than once. It's why people who swore up and down on a Sunday morning that they would never drink that much ever again, end up drinking the same amount the next Saturday. It's why people who have been sick and then get better tend to fall back into the same old habits that may have gotten them there in the first place.
I'm trying not to forget.
As the cancer recedes and my body begins to recover from the cancer and from the treatment, I'm trying not to forget how much my chest hurt from coughing so much. I'm trying not to forget how much my heart sank and I tasted the fear in my mouth when the emergency room doctor asked me if I wanted my son to wait outside the room while she told us my x-ray results. I need to remember the crushing fatigue that would hit me three days after every chemotherapy treatment. I need to remember that I would be out of breath from climbing the stairs.
I need to remember these things because I don't want to grow complacent. I don't ever want to take for granted how amazing it feels to breathe deeply. I don't ever want to take for granted the gift of seeing my son grow taller. I do not want to take for granted the ability to sit in the sunshine and have enough hair on my head to keep from getting a sunburned scalp. I especially must never forget the tremendous kindness and love that has been directed to me and my family. I have been humbled to the ground by so much generosity, that I may never find a way to repay it all.
I need to remember every act of kindness so that I can remember to give that same help to others.
Everybody encounters suffering of some kind. I have had people tell me they feel guilty complaining of small difficulties in their lives because "it's nothing compared to what you have been through." But my answer is that a challenge is a challenge no matter how big or small. We need to share our challenges with each other because we need each other to overcome them. None of us gets through this crazy world without facing some serious pain, both mental and physical.
I am grateful that I don't really have any physical pain now aside from a few minor chemotherapy related side-effects that are diminishing daily. But I don't want to forget that pain because I can learn from it. I can learn what to do to try to avoid more of that pain in the future. And I hope that I can use the memory of that pain to lighten somebody else's load, just as mine was lightened.
We often forget that we are more alike than we are different. We often forget that we are all just a part of one great big whole. We often forget that we are here to help each other.
I'm trying not to forget.