What is Love?

“What is love?” It was youth day at the Little Green Church and the children were in charge of the service. The task of delivering the sermon fell to ten year old Evan. He asked for the privilege and as we were to learn, he was more prepared than most adults for the task ahead.

“What is love?” Again, he asked the question and slowly the congregation began to raise their hands and share what they thought love meant.
Before cancer, answering this question was so easy. Love was holding my newborn daughter. Love was calling someone in the middle of the night and having them come with no questions asked. Love was being rocked by my grandmother. Love was singing to my grandmother during her final illness.

But, as so often happens when you’re on a journey of this kind – a life altering journey, a life changing journey – you find that your perspective has changed even on the simple things of love. One this journey called breast cancer I was given a rare and precious gift – the gift of knowing just how truly loved I am now. When I think of love now, I’m overwhelmed at the outpouring of love that showered upon me during this journey. If I shared all the ways to say I love you, I’d fill up more pages than I could write – or you could read – in a lifetime. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts of how I could have answered Evan’s question if only there had been the time.

“What is love?”
Love is Tommie and Lorraine, breast cancer survivors, who held me that first Sunday after I was diagnosed and let me cry and loved me until my wounded heart was healed.

Love is my sister-in-law, Jeanna, coming to the first day of chemo bearing angels, a good luck elephant belonging to my husband’s grandmother, and performing a real “cheer” (she’s a former cheerleader) to encourage me as I faced the unknown.

Love is Joan and Leon, dear friends who’d already walked this journey showing up the day we had the first appointment with the oncologist just to wait with us in the waiting room so we wouldn’t be alone. I prayed for angels to be with us that day as I was terrified. God sent them. They also changed her Herceptin treatments to coincide with my first chemo so they could be there with us that day. How can you be scared when you have cheerleaders in the wings?

Love is my husband, holding my hand and giving me strength so I wouldn’t break down and cry when I called my parents to tell them that their baby girl had cancer.

Love is Bird-of-Paradise flowers, sent all the way from Hawaii, from Jeanna, just to make me feel better after diagnosis.

Love is Penny who came from Colorado just to pray for me.

Love is a special mass that Buddy and Carolyn arranged to ask for healing.

Love is a yellow prayer shawl, crocheted by Mrs. Taylor (a 99 year old woman at the church) and blest by the congregation. It went with me to every biopsy, every procedure, every chemo, every surgery.

Love is Terri who carried me to biopsies, called constantly to check on me, bought face masks, made home remedies and teas to help with the nausea, and never went to the store without calling to see if we needed something.

Love is my daughter, Rebekah, who delivered homemade meals every month so that I never had to cook during the 22 weeks of chemo.

Love is Betty, the door knob angel, who left notes, flowers, cards, brownies and so much more hanging on the door knob throughout this journey.

Love is an email every Wednesday night from my mother-in-law to tell me she’d be thinking of me the next day.

Love is a card that arrived from Linda F. every week, even when she was on vacation, during this journey.

Love is a text message from Linda L. every Thursday morning during chemo letting me know she was there with me in spirit.

Love is the phone calls (always timely) from my mother and father, my sister, and my brothers. God bless them as I needed to hear about life outside of Texas oncology.

Love is a visit from Mark and Darlene who drove hours to see me when they had so much else to do.

Love is a red wig from my best friend in high school, Beth. Boy am I one good looking red head!

Love is a charm bracelet with each charm commemorating some event on this journey.

Love is my husband, telling me I’m beautiful when I was so sick I couldn’t get up off the bathroom floor. Love is him kissing my bald head and looking at me through those beautiful rose-colored glasses he must be wearing.

Love is Susan – her prayers, her tears, her letters, her intercession, angels and a journey necklace to represent all we’ve been through together over the last 34 years.

Love is my church, who filled two freezers with wonderful meals after surgery.

Love is a massage from Sarah.

Love is my oncology nurse, Berta, who cared for me all those months. There is a special place in heaven for people like her.

Love is Kimble who organized the North Carolina prayer warriors and then backed me up at work during this journey so I never had to worry.

Love is flowers from my MamMaw (who has long since passed on), sent by my friend Dorothy who said God told her to bring them. Dorothy is 86 years and a total love.

Love is grandchildren, who took it all in stride and never looked at me differently despite the changes in my body which kept me from doing many things we wanted to do.

Love is a plane ride in a 1941 Steerman biplane – a gift from Terri and Dana – to celebrate the end of one journey and the beginning of my new, cancer free life.

©2013. Mary Kyle. All rights reserved.

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