Two years ago this month I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer – and started on a dark journey of hospitals, needles, chemotherapy, nausea, and pain. I have been reflecting on this time as I pass the anniversary. The thing that stands out the most is how much goodness I saw in others as I struggled through. It was remarkable to me at the time and continues to be a source of inspiration.
The people I knew well (close friends and family) banded together to form a shelter, so that I rarely worried about my next meal, a ride to the hospital, being alone, or even doing laundry. My people were beyond generous with their time and resources – and I feel grateful for that every day.
But even outside of my own clan, goodness came to me from all kinds of strangers. Because I was bald and walking slowly, most people could tell that I was going through some sort of treatment. I noticed that people smiled at me more and this seemed a sign of solidarity against the great enemy of humankind: cancer. Many people approached me to wish me well and give me their prayers. Waiters and store clerks often discounted items; others (strangers to me) picked up my tab. Women let me go ahead of them in bathroom lines, teenagers carried my bags, and taxi drivers dismissed charges. It was astonishing – and wonderful. I can only imagine that they did these things because they saw “one among them” who was obviously struggling and going through a difficult time. It was heartening. I will forever believe in the goodness of humankind because of this experience.
Now that I am well and have hair again, I often wish that we had more “outward” signs of our struggles: wearing some black clothing when a loved one has died, keeping on hospital wrist bands when going through treatment, donning a special necklace when we’re looking for a job, etc. There are so many trouble and trials all around us – and yet, we move through the grocery store, the local diner, and the office halls without seeing.
Since my own experience with goodness, I have worked harder to let me know own goodness come out. I want my humanity to show! I try to let people go ahead of me when they appear agitated, I give grace to those who drive too slow in the wrong lane (I remember my out-of-town family trying to find their way to hospitals on confusing roads), I smile at the parents with crying children and say “it’s OK, they don’t bother me”, and I push all three shopping carts back to the rack (I remember when I could not push anything).
Seeing goodness in others and finding more of it in myself – makes this life experience a little smoother and a little lighter.
How do you show your goodness to others?