It was a warm spring day. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. I had just picked up my kids from school and we were walking to the car. All of a sudden, the sun disappeared and dark grey clouds pushed their way across the sky. We barely got in the car before it started pouring. The raindrops were beating down from all sides. Even with the windshield wipers on high, it was difficult to see. The water gushed down the hillsides and pooled along the edge of the country roads. It was the middle of the afternoon but it seemed like dusk. The dark clouds, the pounding rain, the splash from the passing cars all made for rough travel and I had to slow down and hold onto the wheel as I managed the wet, slippery roads. Then, as quickly as it started, just as we were almost home; the rain slowed down and the water on the roads dissipated. The sun started to peek through the dark clouds. The specks of sunlight bounced off the leaves of the trees and the road which was still glistening from the downpour. The trees, the grass and the roadway looked like it was coated in glitter. Although I could loosen my grip on the wheel, I continued at a slow pace and took in the magnificent sight. It was springtime. The brown, twisted trees of winter had once again been painted about a thousand shades of green. There were dark greens and light greens and bright greens. The earth was glowing – from the leaves on the trees to the grass carpeting the ground – everything was saturated with color; pure, beautiful color…. it was God’s masterpiece, right there before my eyes. To me, it seemed as though the trees were never greener than they were after it rained.
As I drove the rest of the way home, I realized that the same beautiful scenery was there when I took the kids to school that morning. We traveled that same road to and from school every day. I drove along those same roads, with the lush, green grass and the trees that looked like they were decorated with green sprinkles of all different shades. It was there … but I didn’t see it. That morning, my eyes only saw the road. My heart was beating fast, nervous that we were going to be late. My mind was racing, thinking of all the things that I had to do at work once I got there. I didn’t notice any of that beauty that was all around me because I wasn’t looking. I was just going through the motions, getting from Point A to Point B. It wasn’t until those pounding rains erupted from above and the sun pushed its way through the dark clouds that I noticed, really noticed, that spectacular view.
I thought back to all those times when I had to weather the storms in my own life. I remember the day I found out I had cancer. I remember that feeling of being taken by surprise by a storm that I never saw coming. When I heard that doctor say the words “you have cancer”, it was just like when the clouds darkened and the rains poured down that day. I couldn’t see the road in front of me. I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I stop? Should I pull over? Should I keep going? My visibility was affected. My path was unclear. My faith in my ability to maneuver the slick road was wavering. How was I going to push my way through those stormy conditions, not knowing if the road ahead was manageable or if it had been washed away?
Just as my fears and doubts were about to swallow me whole; just like the rain started to slow down and the sun started to peek through those dark clouds, I started to see all the beauty around me. God cast that same glow down on all of my blessings so that I finally took notice of them. They were there all along but maybe I was too busy, too focused on the road ahead, too intent on getting to my next destination, or just too caught up in the ‘everyday’ to notice that I had everything I needed and more to make it through that storm. At first, I was angry with God and questioned His plan, His timing, His everything. I didn’t have time for a storm in my life. I didn’t know if I could make it through a storm like that. Then, before long, I realized that even though I was diagnosed with a deadly disease and I was facing the fight of and for my life; I knew I was going to be alright. Yes, I had cancer and I didn’t know what the future held … but I still felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I had an amazing husband who was there to hold my hand, who told me in no uncertain terms that we were going to beat this thing. I had the best Mom in the world who was there for me and helped me with anything I needed. I had two of the most beautiful, kind-hearted, compassionate children who would lift my spirits and give me inspiration to keep going, even when it was hard. I had friends who stepped up to support me and to fight right along with me. People came out of the woodwork to help. I had neighbors who organized and cooked meals for my family while I was going through treatment. I had people offering words of encouragement, prayers of healing and hugs of comfort. I was not alone. I saw God’s hand working in my favor in so many ways – He worked in the smallest details and He provided me with a support system that would see me through the most difficult time in my life. There was rain but after the storm, the sun was brighter than ever.
We all know our days are numbered. We all know that we aren’t going to be on this earth forever. It wasn’t until I learned I had cancer that I really thought about it. No one wanted to think about dying. I was no different. I never really thought about it … until I had no choice. I didn’t know if I would be here to see my children grow up or if I would be here to grow old with my husband. It may seem clichéd but it wasn’t until my life became uncertain that I really started living and not just going through the motions. I became more grateful for all of life’s blessings. I became more aware of all the little things – the sun on my face, the blue sky, my daughter’s giggle, my son’s incredible hugs. I looked at each day as a gift and enjoyed every moment because I knew more than ever that tomorrow is not promised. Still, although I consider myself much more aware of all the good in my life than I used to be; I still needed a reminder once in a while. I feel like that storm the other day, with the colorful show afterward, was God’s way of making sure I hadn’t forgotten. I became too focused on my routine, too worried about the wrong things – this rain was a wake up call for me. I truly believed that. God sent that rain down on me so that I would slow down and pay attention to the beauty around me again. I think all of the storms in our lives serve a purpose. My life changed for the better after I had cancer. It really did. I was happier. I was more grateful. I was a better person. God surrounded me with love, restored my faith, and showed me that even in the darkest times; there is always beauty and there is always hope. We just have to look up from the road to see it.