"Is this seat taken?" I looked up to see Rose, a longtime member of our parish. She was pointing to the chair next to me.
A smile spread across my face.
"No," I said. "It's yours! Sit here!"
Rose smiled, eyes twinkling in delight. She placed her fish dinner on the table and moved the folding chair, which screeched unmercifully across the floor.
Then she sat down, looked at me, and spoke.
"It's good to see you," she said.
She wasn't kidding. Heck, it was good to see her. It's been a long haul, this cancer recovery.
Like her, I was once incredibly active in the parish...daily Mass, bible studies, prayer groups, parish council, women's retreats...
But cancer changed all that. For over 2 years, most of my praying has been at home...much of it from under the bedcovers. Church has come to me, in the form of friends and neighbors, fellow parishioners and bible study members. I've been connected, just in a different way.
So it was good to be here, enjoying the Lenten fish fry at our parish. (I mean, what's Lent without a fish fry?)
"You're here," she repeated. "It's good to see you."
We stared at each other, beaming.
"How are you?" she finally asked.
I gave her a slow nod "I'm okay," I said.
For a moment, I wondered: Should I tell her the whole deal? That treatments will never end? That some days are tough and some, like this one, are better?
I decided to say none of that. Instead, I smiled. "Yes, I'm doing well."
She gave me a knowing look. "That's good," she said. It was obvious she could read between the lines.
She thought a moment and when she spoke, her words felt prophetic.
"The worst is behind you," she said.
My head snapped to attention. What? With cancer treatments perpetually looming, I'd never thought of it like that before. Who was looking behind? I was just trying to get through.
I'd been so entrenched in the business of fighting the return to good health, that I'd missed the fact that this progression, slow as it is, is still a progression.
I pondered her words, enjoying the sound.
Finally, I responded.
"Yes," I said. "Yes. The worst is behind me."
I smiled. Broadly.
So did she.
I hope your day is happy as we enter into this holiest of weeks, reminding us that the best is yet to come.
Thank you for being here and reading. Each of you has helped me in your own unique way, and I hope that somehow my words help you.
Click here to listen to the Servant Song, which says it all.