My friend Marie, who knows about these things, gave me a quote when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. It was this:
“The further that sorrow carves into our beings, the more joy we can contain.”
I have been offered many quotes over the years–some of which have resonated with me greatly. Some of which I tossed out as not really being “me.” This one was different. I could neither embrace it right away, nor reject it. It jarred me at first. I didn’t have any interest in being carved. Nor could I see much joy around the corner. I wanted it to be true. But I was dubious.
Even so, I couldn’t deny the truth of being carved. Sorrow has carved me. It has left marks on me that feel visible, even if they aren’t. It has left me changed. And my family too.
This quote has also stuck with me because I have a visual reminder of it every time I walk up to our house. My Uncle Duane, three years ago now, carved a gorgeous cart for me that stands on our front porch right beside the door. During the winter I decorate it with a Christmas tree. In the summer; bird-ish things and plants. But the cart itself is decoration enough. It is intricately carved. Horses. “Morgan Mare, Way Cool” emblazoned above them. Quotes from people I love. Famous quotes. Rosettes. Vines. It really is something.
My uncle made it on his farm in Minnesota while I struggled through chemotherapy in Michigan. He carved. While I was being carved.
And, of course, all of us are carved. All of us have those hurts that dig so deeply into us we know the scars will linger. Often it seems even hard to hope that what feel like jagged scratchings might someday turn into a vine. A rose. A mare.
But what I’ve found so breath-taking over time is the truth of the quote Marie gave me. That really, joy has come to fill the grooves. Simple things turn over-joyful.
Yesterday I got a call from the oncologist. My bone scan that was done on Saturday because of my persistent back pain came back normal. Normal. Would it feel so joyful had the words “cancer”, “metastatic” and “nodules” not carved so deeply? I wonder.