Hard Things in Hard Places (Day 42, Year 20)

There is this fig tree in my home office that was just a tower of sticks two weeks ago. I've been watering it all winter.  We decorated it with paper snowflakes at Christmas. I look at it sometimes wondering whether it is dead or alive. I've remained hopeful and sometimes, when I've had hard moments, the little hope that the fig was dormant and not dead has kept my own spark alive. 

About 10 days ago, I noticed it had tiny little specs of green--buds forming on its branches. This week leaves began unfurling and covering its branches. Coming out of dormancy, inside in New Jersey in February make this fig tree a bit out of season. I am not sure what the future will hold for this little fig of mine; but everytime I look at it, I think: 

"Wow, look at that little plant doing hard things in hard places."

It's inspiring really. 

I need that inspiration more often than I do not. I find myself in hard places often. It is a choice I made a few months after Lily was diagnosed with cancer. For months I would not speak to other cancer families. And then this wonderful mother Yael would not be deterred and I realized how much I needed her. Her son Avi was in proton radiation treatment with Lily. I needed a friend in the hard place where we were constantly called on to do hard things. I needed her laugh and her son and to watch our toddlers play before treatment. 

That one friendship opened my heart to so many more. Everyday I chose this hard place and I would not change my choice, unless it meant I could erase childhood cancer for everyone.  These other mothers--I watch them do the hardest of things in the hardest of places. When I meet a new oncology mom or heat of a mom sitting at her child's bedside or just think of my beloved friends who have children who are forever the age they were when they died, I break a little. But, I choose them over and over again. 

Sometimes these women are the only people I talk to about my deepest fears and most frustrating days. They understand the illogical need to hope in situations that are logically hopeless.  They know the every last dark corner of this journey. They don't accept childhood cancer; they fight it with me until their knuckles bleed and we are only an inch closer to cures. 

But, they still smile. They still bloom. They still love and shine and glow. 

I don't think this is because they are extraordinary or special or amazing (even though they are all of those things and more) or chosen by God to do hard things and experience horrific losses. 

I think it is because they have each other. I think it is because to do hard things in hard places, you have to live with the purest hope and the most open heart. You have to believe even when a tree appears without life, that it is worth watering and tending to, because it just might bloom. 

You have to be willing to be the one with the watering can sometimes.