Open to Life's Beautiful Mix of Emotions

When I dropped Thaddeus off at school his teacher asked how our weekend was and I really wasn't sure how to answer. We had a nice Easter with Bryan's family, but I had a massive headache all day.

We had a great time celebrating with two good friends as they became husband and wife, but the celebrations were shadowed for us by some bad news on Friday.

It was truly a weekend mixed with joy and pain, celebration and fear.

But, I guess that's sort of how life is, isn't it?

We human beings are a cornucopia of feelings and its rare to get the pleasure of only experiencing one feeling at a time.

On Friday our doctor told us that the pain and growing lump in Bryan's underarm is most likely melanoma and scheduled him for a PET scan this Thursday to find out.

I've known that our journey with melanoma wasn't over. I've known it each time I glanced at the pile of supplements Bryan is taking. I've know it when he goes in for follow ups and ultrasounds. I've known it when I've allowed myself to research and stumbled again upon the statistics. But, honestly I hoped for a bit more of a reprieve. Intuitively there was a part of me that has known that melanoma would rear its ugly head sooner than I would like, but intellectually I still thought it unlikely to happen quite so quickly.

Today I have been grateful though that it wasn't even sooner. Grateful that we were able to have a clear biopsy and clean bill of health in November. Grateful that we were able to enjoy the holidays without melanoma and further surgery hanging over us. Grateful that we were able to spend the past few months stabilizing. Bryan started a new full time position and focused more on work, the kids and I fell more into a routine, and I spent more time writing and even some time teaching yoga. It was a really good 3 months.

And now April starts and we find ourselves in a very similar place to where we were last April, with the potential for surgery and who knows what else looming over our heads.

Honestly, I'm not really sure what I feel or how to feel. On one hand, my emotions seem heightened through all this, it's easier then ever for tears to well up in my eyes. But, the sweet moments of sunshine and my kids laughing, and seeing others deeply happy also swells my heart with more joy than normal.

But there is also this other side, the side of fear, that wants to go numb. That wants to protect myself by keeping people at arms length. That doesn't want to enter into the wonderful mix of feelings, joy and pain mingled eternally together, and instead wants to only feel the singular feeling of fear.

This weekend I was able to push against that fear. I was able to brake down and cry with my mother-in-law when she asked how our appointment went instead of keeping her at arms length. I was able to celebrate and fully feel the joy of two people perfectly matched becoming one while at the same time crying every time I looked at my husband standing side by side with the other groomsmen. I was able to soak in the peace of a moment spent with my little family at the park untainted by fear, only relief to be together in the present. I was able to feel gratitude for the past three months even as I felt a tinge of anxiety about the coming month.

Today my prayers for a miraculously clear PET scan are mixed with my prayers that I (and Bryan too) can stay open with our whole hearts to each other, to other people, and to the beautiful world around us. I'm asking that fear would be just one of many emotions we would feel instead of becoming the whole story.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman