Have you ever watched little beetles land on water and walk across it as if it is made of glass?
Water lilies always stay afloat even if a wind makes waves on their pond.
It takes a lot to sink a beetle or a water lily, but we humans are often not so buoyant.
Or so I thought.
My friend, Bron had a double mastectomy three years ago. After enduring chemotherapy and radiation she has been in remission for two years. She handled the ordeal with such dignity that I was blown away. I’ll never forget it. She made me feel like a petulant child for carrying on about all the stupid stuff I carry on about like somebody not changing the toilet roll when the old one is finished. I mean, that kind of stuff is irritating, but is it really that important?
Something else has happened to Bron which made me realise that you don’t have to be in water to be buoyant.
A woman’s appearance after she has had a mastectomy is hard to get used to. I have seen Bron without her breasts. I prepared myself mentally for it and looked at some images in books and on the net first because the last thing I wanted to do was appear horrified in front of her. It wasn’t that bad. Really. And since her reconstruction surgery her breasts are amazing.
The trouble is her husband doesn’t think so. Cancer has side effects that spread out like ripples on that pond the water lily stays afloat on. There are layers and layers of side effects and most of them have nothing to do with changes in appearance.
Bron’s husband was terrified of her cancer. He couldn’t talk about it. He wouldn’t talk about it. His terror drove him into the arms of another woman whom he has been seeing since Bron’s first round of chemotherapy.
His terror made him cruel.
Those are Bron’s exact words. She blames the layered side effects of her cancer for him acting so dishonourably.
Have you ever put your hand in front of your mouth in horror as someone dives into a deep body of water and takes 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds to resurface? Each second is an eternity, but most people, unless they become entangled at the bottom will eventually rise to the top.
If I were Bron right now I would struggle to swim to the surface. I would be weighted down by the despair of dealing with such a terrible illness and such an awful betrayal.
But Bron remains buoyant.
I can’t hate him for being afraid, she says.
There are some people in life whose very presence is a blessing, who take you aback with their goodness. Who just unravel your sense of the ways things should be.
Bron is such a person.
She will always be a water lily dancing on the surface of the pond.