It took me months to acknowledge my pregnant neighbor
No, really. At the time of writing this, she must be at least six months pregnant and I've done my best not to acknowledge the baby since the moment I found out.
Some days, I'd sit in the car a little longer or walk in the house fast when she’s outside. I would use my phone to avoid eye contact at all times.
I needed to look busy.
Too busy to have drive-way conversations about how they weren’t even trying to have a baby and “it just happened.” Too busy to rub her belly and ask questions about whether she had morning sickness. Too busy to deflect statements like “You’ll be next, soon,” followed by an awkward apology.
It may sound weird, but the timing was no good for me.
I was mourning the loss of the life I had before breast cancer. I was heartbroken over the side effects of all the surgeries and treatments. I was scared because I’d lost all trust in the body that tried to kill me. And I was angry with God for choosing me to bear this cross.
I told my therapist I was angry. I didn’t use the word “jealous,” but I was that, too. Cancer has a way of flipping your life upside down and I was having a hard time making sense of things.
How could I be fine one day and need a PET scan to see if the cancer spread the next day?
I wondered if I was being punished. Had I done something wrong to deserve the diagnosis? Why me? Why now?
My therapist said I had it all wrong. That God doesn’t punish His children with illness. That I didn’t do anything wrong and that she truly believed something amazing was on the other side of this.
Her response gave me peace, but it wasn’t until I listened to one of my favorite podcasts that something really clicked.
“People think that somehow, if you’re a positive person, negative things shouldn’t happen to you,” said Caroline Myss. “Now, you just stop that.
"One of the most painful things you can tell yourself is that you are the exception to a rule,” she continued. “That you are the exception to what happens to all living creatures. That somehow or other, you are living outside the laws of life. That what breaks down everybody else’s body can’t touch yours.”
Perspective is everything and that podcast really got me in check. It was the harsh truth I needed. I wasn't being punished. I didn't do anything wrong. I'd just been chosen to take a different journey in life.
Sadly, young women get breast cancer all the time. Why not me? I was carrying this heaviness in my heart not just because I was mourning; I felt like I was the exception to the rule and that’s just not how life works.
Recently, I decided it was time to stop avoiding my neighbor, but I must admit I feel silly congratulating her on her pregnancy six months later.
I went to the store and bought some baby gifts for her. Not just because it's a nice gesture, but because I think I need to. I think acknowledging her pregnancy is one of the many steps I need to take to come to terms with life after cancer. I'm on a journey to accept the hand I’ve been dealt and I'm determined to find a way to win with it.