A New Perspective on a Terrible Thing
My sister in law is wonderful, but she's also strangely infuriating. She's one of these people that can be handed the absolute worst thing in the world and find a way to see the good in it.
So you might imagine how her reaction her daughter being diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma might conflict with my natural tendency toward anger, frustration and helplessness. Somehow, every time I check in with the family, she's paradoxically positive about the whole thing.
- My brother has got his head down, working to fight this thing.
- My mother is angry.
- My father is depressed.
- ...but Shawna goes on and on about how grateful she is.
It's taken me months to understand it, but I think I finally do. All this time I've been angry at a god I don't believe in for giving my niece Cancer, and Shawna's been looking at the reality of the situation:
Violet has Cancer. This is a fact. A terrible fact, but it's not something to which we can ascribe malice or blame on any individual. It's rather pointless to waste energy being angry about something that wasn't consciously inflicted. Instead, it makes sense to recognise the beauty in this moment:
- The literally hundreds, even thousands of people who are rooting for her, donating time, money, toys, and books to her.
- The amazing generosity of the Ronald McDonald House that has given her family a home while Violet is treated.
- The Canadian health care system, funded by the whole country to give Violet a fighting chance.
- The constant flow of encouraging messages from around the world.
I'm not sure that I have it in me to be so clear-headed about this, but I admire her for her perspective. It's definitely the healthier attitude, both for her and for Violet. I'm going to try to be more like her.