Eye level. Cancer and Shrinkage. 

5′ 11 1/2″  That’s how tall the man I married was.

5’5″ that’s how tall my favorite person is now. (Same guy. Just the “cancer is crushing his spine” version.) (Please note: maxi dress was billowing. I’m fluffy. But, not that much. This is the family pic we take every year in Traverse City.) 

At first I thought it was my shoes. Then I thought it was his shoes, or lack, thereof. (Jammie’s and shoes just don’t work well together.) that was denial. Then, I realized, it’s just a new cancer related fact: We are now the same height in flats. (Unless he’s in heels, then, he’s taller. Or, so I’d guess. Maybe we could find some of prince’s shoes on eBay….) 

Anyway, seeing eye to eye in a relationship is generally a good thing. This: is not that kind. This: is a constant reminder of his illness, and the damage it is doing daily. Instead of reaching up tip-toe to kiss him, I need to tip down. (Cause I’m still wearing heels. I need the extra confidence. I’m that shallow.) 

You wouldn’t think this would be a big deal. But, it is. For both of us. He feels frail and weak, I feel strange and giant and sad. This is harder than the wheelchair, the ramp, the stair lift and the walker. The other things can be set aside. They could even be temporary. Unlike that one Seinfeld episode about “shrinkage” this is permanent. And, it’s not funny. The difference is equally visible seated. We can’t get away from it.

Cancer has changed our perspectives in so many ways, this literal one, is just one more. 

And yet, we’re still here. Fighting. Cancer every day, each other, some days. Because we’re also still us. And human. And a hot mess.  Cancer does not make you superhuman or spiritually perfected. It makes you sick.

Being confronted with the frailty of life everyday brings into a surreal focus the weaknesses we have. Not just the physical ones. The emotional ones. Like the fit I had today. And yesterday and a week ago. Like the fights over nothing and annoyance over everything. I’ll be honest- in addition to the stupid cancer mess being human is really sucktastic. I wish I were more like Jesus. Loving. Patient. Kind. I’m not. I’m kind of a jerk.

And yet- scripture gives me hope, even here. At eye level with my incredible shrinking and fighting and yes- sometimes annoying- favorite human. When I’m trying so hard to do everything right, that I’m making messes like a toddler unsupervised in a kitchen for 12 seconds. Scripture says that in our weaknesses HIS strength is perfected.

 Not mine.

Not in my strength is Jesus magnified. But in my weakness. It’s not on me. It’s on him. The one who never changes. The one who doesn’t shrink or fear the future because he knows the plans he has for us. Eternally. Plans to give us a future and a hope. Even here, when cancer seems so big and we, literally seem so small.

Dear lord, this Christmas is again- hard. The changes we see are most likely permanent. And this year they’ve been drastic. they’re also: hard to accept. Role reversal always is. Please continue to remind us of your unchanging love, your unchanging power and presence and make your strength perfected in our weaknesses. I love you lord and trust you- even when I don’t like what’s happening. Amen. Ps: a few extra inches back would be good. Lord if there’s someone who could transplant my butt fat into his spine for height/ I’d gladly suffer the loss…. just sayin. You could promt that idea in some 12 year old researcher…Amen. 

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