As I start this, I’m still not really sure what I’m wanting to say. I’ve had a post floating around my head for several days about unmet longings, but I’m having the hardest time finding the words that will convey even a small percentage of what’s on my heart. One of the first things one does when hearing the words incurable and cancer directed towards them is to take stock of one’s life. At least, that’s what I did. And along with that came the mental checklist of the unmet longings in my life, and wondering whether or not I’d get the chance to see them met.
One of my first conversations with God post-diagnosis regarding just one of those longings went something like this:
But, God, I have so much love left to give. It’s bubbling up inside of me. I want to see you face-to-face more than I’ve ever wanted anything else in my life. I’ve even begged you a thousand times to just come back already. But…can I have a while longer? I’ve longed so many years to plant this love you’ve given me in a relationship that will last a lifetime here. I want to love and be loved, truly and deeply. I want that experience here. You know…with another human. I know you love me, for which I’m incredibly thankful.
And what about kids, God? There are so many kids who need a mom, and I know I’d be a darn good one. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe you’re sparing them and me both. Ha. I know the greatest longing in my life will only be met when I’m whole in your presence. I know that all of these longings here on earth are nothing compared to who you are. I know that. But you put me here on this earth to live and think and feel, and all of these longings are real to me. I feel them in the core of who I am. If I’m not going to have much longer here, you either have to take me quickly or help me know how to grieve the loss of the hope of them coming true in my life.
So I had that conversation with God, in a rather pathetic fashion on the floor of my bedroom, and then I purposed to trust Him no matter the outcome. And I tried to just move on. I mean, who in the world is going to want to start a relationship with someone who has incurable cancer, right? And even if someone loved me enough to overlook the uncertainty of our future, could I allow them to if I really loved them? It wouldn’t be fair, so I should just grieve the loss of that dream and move on, right? Sure.
But one of the things that happens when you live in community with other people is that they care about the things that you care about. Which means that those closest to me know that I care about having a family, and the realization that I may not get that chance has dawned on all of them as well. So it’s been really hard to just let it go. It’s like the elephant in the room. I see it on their faces when love and marriage and children are brought up around me, and I try to meet the sorrow in their eyes with a glimmer of hope in my own. Don’t feel sad for me, I try to blink. I’m going to be okay.
And I truly am going to be okay. But damn you, cancer! Unmet longings are hard enough without any other outside obstacles. They are isolating and lonely and kick-you-in-the-teeth hard at times. As I’m writing this, a friend is texting me to vent about the ache of watching so many others getting to do the things she longs for herself, including love and marriage. She’s several years younger than I am, so others might roll their eyes, as they once did to me, and say that she still has plenty of time. But I say, “I know, friend. I understand your longings. I’m so sorry they have yet to be met. It absolutely sucks. I know. But don’t ever lose hope.”
I long to meet the love of my life. I long to start a family. I long to travel the world and serve people and live to be 94 years old with no regrets for not having been brave enough to do all that there was to be done. No matter our age or health or financial worth or life circumstances, we all have longings. Sometimes those longings are met immediately and we get to reap their rewards for a lifetime; sometimes they seem to be an impossibility, always just outside our reach.
Either way, I never want to stop reaching. I hope you don’t either.