I believe that prayer is a powerful thing. It’s a chance to express our gratitude, our worries, the desires of our heart. To this day I still remain on a few personal and church prayer lists where loved ones and random parishioners continue to lift me up requesting health, healing and peace. So I don’t take it lightly when someone boasts to pray for me as a personal affront, a dig, a tacit insult à la bless your heart.
This week we have been enjoying the beach on a much-deserved vacation. It is such a sweet, meaningful time for my family. Exactly one year ago today I was completely bald, prepping for my second breast surgery. My body was beaten down, though my spirits were up, and radiation was right around the corner; I was smack dab in the center of a hard journey. Summer of 2018 was one for the books- like the books you burn. It wasn’t just tough for me but also for my girls and my forever-supportive husband (who was at the time feverishly studying for the state bar exam.) So to be here now walking the beach, chasing waves, feeling healthy, strong and normal (who knew normal could be so good?!?) seems like a great accomplishment. It’s like constant celebration mode. I feel grateful. I feel blessed…prayer-worthy adjectives. But life goes on and in spite of all this three year olds still act like jerks sometimes- even if their mom had cancer.
June on the Gulf Coast is terribly lovely and busy. So when our first choice for dinner last night had a two-hour wait we were forced to make a quick plan B decision and ended up at a golf resort pub. Since the restaurant closes at 6:00 pm (we dine early these days) we were nearly the last diners to sit and the only patrons in the restaurant. We are traveling with a couple more families, so we had a big party with lots of kiddos. We did our best to keep them patient and entertained. My six year old fared pretty well, but the threenagers with us (including my own) got a little rowdy. Not exactly Lord of the Flies chaos but loud nonetheless. Let’s note that these children never had an iphone or ipad at the table so to try to keep the peace we took some walks, made lemonade from sugar packets on the table and just tried to manage it the best we could. There were no major outbursts, nobody screamed, but admittedly it wasn’t our finest moment.
Unbeknownst to me, another small table had filed into the restaurant shortly after us. And even though the restaurant was completely empty, they decided to seat themselves right next to our long, loud table. I noticed them as we were leaving and took a moment to greet them and express that I hoped we hadn’t interrupted their meal. I was acknowledging that it wasn’t ideal- but three year olds are wild animals after all. This (little old mean) lady at the table looks straight at me with her tight mouth and starts chastising me about the behavior of my children and basically tells me I’ve failed in raising them right. I was floored. She was so brazen and disapproving and righteous.
As the color rose in my face she said the meanest thing I’ve ever heard. "I will pray for you."
No. Don’t. Really don’t. Pray that I continue to count my blessings and enjoy my children while they are young, even if they also drive me crazy sometimes. Pray that my girls will never experience the hideous disease I’ve faced. Pray that my cancer doesn’t come back. Pray that every summer for the rest of my life will be as wonderful as summer of 2019 is shaping up to be.
Yes, I will continue to work with my toddler on table manners…but more importantly I will remember that I can never know the journey that someone has walked without getting to know them better. I'll never know the whole story by taking a glance.