D.H. Lawrence advised that “it is no good casting out devils. They belong to us. We must accept them and be at peace with them.” Each of us harbors a demon. Jordan’s is a cancer. It will not be ignored and for the moment, she cannot cast it out. So tonight, she weeps.
We imagined tonight would be a happy occasion. She is home. It was the goal she rallied about all day. When the doctors granted her wish, she was beside herself with accomplishment. She fidgeted and fretted waiting for the final discharge papers. We expected tonight to be mellow and peaceful.
Something about coming home struck a chord with our little girl. Within an hour of arrival she was acting strange, as though the high point of her day delivered disappointment. She thought coming home would cast out the demon. But when she arrived, the demon was there to greet her. She talked of being afraid, feeling pain, feeling tired. Neither Jeanette nor I tried to stop her. Where usually we would create distraction or offer counter-suggestion, tonight we held her and let her wail. Who wouldn’t feel afraid? Wouldn’t any of us be sore and uncomfortable two days after surgery? Everyone in our family is fatigued. One can only imagine how tired she must be. Perhaps, by letting her grieve, we allow her to make peace with the demon. Maybe, as painful as it is for us, as much as we wish her to bubble and beam, maybe it is better to let her wallow in depression for a night. Maybe by doing so, she skips along the boundary of her fears and learns to accept what most she doesn’t understand.
She is surrounded by love: her family, her friends, and her caregivers. When she is prepared to fight, there are armies at the ready. But no man or woman can lead an army fearlessly every day. Patton said, “if we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man.” Jordan is brave. But bravery means doing what is necessary even when our fear counsels otherwise. And Jordan fights the fight, regardless of the way she feels inside.
A week ago, when she was admitted to the hospital, she was disoriented and suffering from an electrical storm surging in her brain. The doctors needed a CT scan to determine whether or not she was hemorrhaging. A few years ago, I explained to her that a CT scan was a big donut that took her picture. I advised her to smile while it rotated and whirred. Last Saturday, in the midst of all her fears, threshing about and crying intensely, when we finally got Jordan to lie down for the scan, she smiled. There was no pleasure in it. The smile was forced. It was what she knew she had to do. And when the scan was done, she let herself cry again.
Though it pains me to watch her unwind in self-pity, I am humbled by her courage. I am grateful to learn from her example. I have faith in her resolve. Tonight, she can cry as much as she wants. She can feel sorry for herself. It is her right. Tomorrow, she will join her family for breakfast. We will drink tea. The demon will join us. I have no doubt that Jordan will measure her enemy’s weaknesses and lead us from the front.