When tia was diagnosed with stomach cancer 12 years ago, it was a shocker to the family. She was 49 years old. She was the 6th of 8 siblings. She was my caregiver during my parents’ long work hours. She was the strong one, the funny one, the glue that held the family together. ‘Anyone but her’, I’m sure everyone thought. One of her sisters traveled to the states to care for her during the time span of radiation and chemotherapy. Her husband worked and her children were too young; 15 and 9.
The entire family had faith a miracle would happen. A religious faith that kept everyone going. Everyone prayed incessantly. Tia’s family in Peru gathered to pray the rosary and light up candles to different saints. I had never seen, experienced and felt so much faith and hope before. So many acts of religious beliefs. Their belief that a miracle would occur was strong. However, from the start, the prognosis was not a good one. She was given 6 months to live with chemo and radiation. Perhaps less without it. Given the prognosis, some may view these acts of faith as being in denial.
Tia was diagnosed in October, and passed away on a rainy day in June of the following year, 13 days after her daughter’s 10th birthday. Yes, she outlived the 6-months prognosis. But the prayers and faith, if they had anything to do with it, only gifted her those 2 extra months.
The way I see it…
Faith is a wonderful thing. It’s a powerful feeling and belief for good and beauty in the midst of the unknown. In the midst of tragedy. And although I was one of them, who prayed and believed, or wanted to believe that she would be ok, something in me didn’t believe as hard as the rest. Now I understand what that something was. It was the not yet discovered understanding of life. The knowledge that we have very little control over it. Yes, faith still is a beautiful thing. I think what makes it beautiful is that it makes us feel like we have some control over a situation, “if I have faith, it will happen.” If it does happen, it was because of faith. If it doesn’t, our faith wasn’t strong enough.
I have faith in many things. I feel it. However, I think there is one universal truth, regardless of who we are, our beliefs, our religion, and the strength of our faith, or lack thereof, we can’t control life, and we must accept it as it comes. Because life does as it pleases, and asks for no one’s permission, and most likely cares very little about our hopes.
Still… we must believe that it’ll be nice, and play out in our favor once in a while.