As I am writing this, there are 68 days until Christmas. When I was a child, 68 days would have seemed like an eternity but as I have matured (at least chronologically), 68 days go by in a flash! Time seems to go by faster as one gets older. As a child, I remember being super-excited over the arrival of Christmas. Starting at Halloween, I would make a personal calendar (Mom would never let me mark on the “official family calendar” so I had to copy it). Each night before bed, I would mark off the day then count the number of days remaining before Santa’s arrival. It was a nightly ritual that would encourage me to persevere in the misery of my waiting. Obviously waiting is not one of my virtues. Christmas Eve was especially difficult for me as far as waiting goes. The excitement would build until I couldn’t get to sleep. To encourage me to go to bed, my mother informed me that Santa would check to be sure I was asleep before leaving any presents. The Christmas I was six was particularly difficult because I was too excited to sleep and too afraid that Santa would notice I was awake and thus, fly over our house without leaving so much as a candy cane! So I squeezed my eyes as hard as I could, face bunched up, trying to give the appearance of being asleep while all the time listening for the sounds of Santa’s arrival. I still remember my face being sore on Christmas morning but by some miracle, I must have fooled Santa because presents were indeed under the tree!
My cancer treatments have reignited the need to count down the days. While I haven’t physically “crossed off” the days on my calendar, I have kept a mental list of the number of treatments left in each cycle. Over a period of five months, I endured 16 chemotherapy treatments. Now I’m undergoing radiation for a total of 33 treatments. As I am writing this, I have 16 treatments left. But who’s counting?
Cancer treatments are tough on the body and trying to the spirit. You just want them to be over. So you count down each one as another battle in the war – another battle fought and won. You look forward to the end of treatment as if you were once again a child awaiting Christmas morning. There’s a twinge of jealousy as you sit in the chemo room, poison dripping in your veins, and hear another person ring the bell signifying they’ve completed treatment. So you continue to count. The counting provides hope that you, too, will one day ring the bell.
As I near the end of my treatments, my counting has taken on a different persona. Instead of counting the number of infusions left, I am counting my blessings. I have been blessed by so many who have fed me, prayed for me, driven me to treatments, and encouraged me with countless cards, notes, flowers, and phone calls. These are the blessings that have sustained me and given me hope. Through all the ways I have been ministered to over these many months, I have seen a glimpse of the kingdom of God in its fullness – with blessings too many to count. But who’s counting? I am, of course!