Last night we were on the other side of the state to celebrate the wedding of my aunt, my dad’s younger sister. She’s two years younger than my dad, which makes her forty-five, I think, but this was not her first wedding. As we danced and laughed and celebrated, I couldn’t help thinking of the last time we were in town, nearly three years ago.
My uncle died of melanoma a mere three months after the doctors found the first tumors in his brain. I’d known people who were victims of cancer before, but in my experience it was always a longer process, giving loved ones time to say goodbye. We learned that it is not always so – with my uncle, we hardly knew he was sick before he was gone. We all went for the funeral, which was the saddest funeral I have ever attended.
But last night as I watched my aunt dance with her new husband, who lost his first wife to cancer within the past few years, I was reminded that joy really does come in the morning. (The metaphorical morning, that is, since it was evening at the time.) They danced to “Take Heart, My Friend,” one of my favorite Fernando Ortega songs and a song that has meant a lot to me over the past year. (Click here to see the album, scroll down and read the lyrics, and click on the song title – track 11 – to hear an excerpt.)
I had to refrain myself from bawling. It was exactly what I needed to see. I’m sure that losing my uncle was infinitely harder for my aunt than infertility is/has been for me, and yet she has found joy again. “Take Heart, My Friend” has a line that goes, “Our faithful God has always gone before us, and he will lead the way once again,” and as I watched my aunt and new uncle enjoy the fulfillment of that hope – at least as much as it can be fulfilled on earth – I was strengthened in my own hope, a hope which traitorously wavers much more often than I want.
The thing is, I can’t know. I can’t know that I myself will live through next week, or through next year. I can’t know that we will ever bring children home from a hospital or an orphanage. I just can’t know. But I used to think I could, and somehow as I learn more about the precariousness of life, hoping is easier rather than harder. I guess that’s because learning how little I control means learning how much God does. And since he is ever faithful, I need not be afraid of anything. Do you know how freeing that thought is?