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  • Kathryn Lee Martin

The H Word

Yesterday we faced the “H” word in our house—Hospice. The longest road is often the most painful one I’ve learned. The past few months have been unfairly tough with everything going on and while a part of me is in denial, the very real reality hit our family over the head and beat the words into our heads and hearts yesterday morning at the cancer center. For those who have been following the past few months, you are aware of mom’s recurrent metastatic breast cancer which spread to her lymph nodes this past January. Yesterday we got the news that chemo isn’t helping and is only hurting at this point.

Those words are still sinking in, in a big confusing ball of emotions that both make sense and make no sense all at the same time. And it’s not fair. None of this is fair. No one asks to have cancer. No one wants to have cancer. And no one wants to face the realities of what happens when chemotherapy and radiation don’t work anymore to fix things. Because by nature we’re humans, we try to fix things that are broken.

I’m a writer. When something isn’t working in a manuscript, I can fix it. I can fix plot holes, characters, situations, words, sentences, themes, fix anything that needs fixed. But I can’t fix something like the beast known as cancer. And that hurts more than anything.

May was supposed to be a month of celebration. My debut novel came out. Thirteen years of hard work, waiting, being rejected, trying again, all to see The Bone Roses out in the world. Instead of celebrating though, I’m facing the very real reality that we’re going to lose my mother in the coming months and instead of focusing on the book and its sequels like I’d hoped to focus on, now we must prepare for the worst case scenario—the end. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, I realize that. But that doesn’t make it any fairer.

I should be any one of a dozen things right now. Strong, angry, in denial, sad, any one of a million different things they tell you do be under the circumstances. I’m not sure what I am in all honesty. Scared, confused, caught somewhere between disbelief and still hanging onto that small sliver of hope that everything will just go back to being “okay” again. There’s nothing anyone can really do to make it better right now. People ask how they can help in “any one of a dozen ways inserted here” and I don’t have an answer for them. Because I don’t know. What do you do in a situation like this? What can you really do?

We’re taking things one day at a time. Hospice is coming in within the coming week. A whole new chapter is about to unfold, for better or for worse, no one really knows yet how it will all play out. All we can do is do what we do best, trust in the Lord and put our faith into action. The Good Lord is in control, and always has been. No one knows why God allows things like cancer to strike down a family. It’s not our place to know His reasons. We can rage and vent and shout and cry and yell but in the end God gets the final say. And that offers a small comfort in a family of faith.

It’s a brave new world in this household. One where writing takes a backseat because all that matters in the next few months isn’t how many sales you get, or who reviews your novel, or how those reviews play out. No, what matters most right now is time. Precious time to spend with my loved ones to celebrate life. Celebrate the good things and not let the bad take up residence in our hearts.

So as I type this, trying to smile through the tears that so desperately want to break free and drown out my words, all I can really say is appreciate the little things. Because when you’re facing the “H” word after a long, hard fought war, those little things suddenly become big things.

- Ryn

Bestselling Author of Steampunk Fantasy
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