I couldn’t believe my ears. How could anyone thank God for their brain tumor? A brain tumor is the last thing I would offer thanks for. Yet, here was Cindy, our incredibly beautiful and unique daughter-in-law, admitting that she thanks God every day for the astrocytoma tumor that lies at the base of her brain, a tumor so situated that doctors cannot risk removing it. The tumor is benign and hopefully it will remain so. Still, I cannot fathom anyone, much less someone I love, being appreciative of its existence.
What makes Cindy so grateful for such a dreadful condition? We were eating breakfast at Shoney’s a few days after Christmas. My wife and I would soon leave for home in Birmingham and we were enjoying a meal with our son Jeffrey and his wife. The four of us discussed Christmas, family, and other subjects.
Our banter turned a bit more serious as Jeffrey talked about things that irritate or upset him. He’s not unlike most people. Let’s admit it, most of us become aggravated with things or situations, some of which are beyond our control. Whether it’s our jobs, an inconsiderate motorist who cuts us off in traffic or simply the weather, at times we allow ourselves to become irritated. It’s been part of the human condition since the beginning of time.
“What irritates you?” I asked Cindy.
“Nothing, Mr. Bill, absolutely nothing.” I knew she was being genuine.
“I thank God every day for my brain tumor,” she added matter-of-factly.
I was surprised by her last remark. “What do you mean you are thankful for your tumor?”
“I thank God every day for the tumor,” she repeated. ”Because I know what’s important in life and I try to enjoy each day as a blessing.”
“So, nothing irritates you?”
“I used to get worked up about material things. Things like owning a house or if the apartment were messy. Not anymore. Those things aren’t important at all.”
I was nearly speechless. My young daughter-in-law was sharing a slice of wisdom with me. I had never seen Cindy as a person attached to material things, yet apparently she had been, at least to some degree. Now, after being struck with an inoperable brain tumor, she had discovered a truth that isn’t grasped very easily by most people. It’s not the things we accumulate in life that give us real comfort but the love we are able to share each and every day. It’s the blessings we receive when we avail ourselves to them. She had learned the wisdom offered by Jesus in Mathew 6: don’t worry about tomorrow; today’s worries are sufficient. Yet, Cindy had taken God’s message a step further. She doesn’t worry at all.
It’s not easy living each day as if it’s our last on earth. It takes a simple approach to life to do so. Modern life is so complicated and complex. Too many gadgets and demands control our lives. Yet, Cindy offers us another way to view the blessings we are afforded each day. Live life. Love life. Love all.