Cancer in a Post Office Box
When told the news, I instantly felt that all too familiar gut feeling…. The one that immediately takes you to a familiar place.
There I was again, mentally scanning the internal post office boxes created in my mind.
My precious dad was a commercial airline pilot. I once asked him, “Daddy, how do you know what all those buttons, lights, and levers mean”? He smiled and said, “Honey, I sit down in the cock pit and I visually scan the instrument panel”. “So, what happens if something isn’t right?” He replied, “You stop and address the problem.” That has conversation has been planted in my mind for years. Compartmentalize.
I created my own “cock pit” in my mind. Mine resembles post office boxes. Yes, post office boxes. You know the old timey (yes, showing my age) brassy looking rugged metal boxes at the post office with combinations and numbers on them?
Okay, same set up in my mind, the contents being individual times or events in my life, both positive and negative.
Starting at the upper left far corner, then scanning to the right, looking for one particular box. This box is full- jammed packed with an array of memories, feelings, visualizations, and heart wrenching fear. I call it “My Boob Box”.
I slammed my “Boob Box” shut 6 years ago. After completing my own bi-lateral mastectomy, reconstruction, and treatment, I waited for the magical 5-year cancer free milestone to occur. On the 5-year anniversary came, I gathered my feelings, words, experiences, thoughts, visuals, and the sheer terror of the unknown and encapsulated in one little post office box in my mind. After the door was shut, I walked away. I foolishly told myself “The battle was over, you won, mission accomplished.”
I was wrong. The “Boob Box” has a mind of itself. It has managed to burst open several times over the years when I least expected it, bombarding me with its contents. The memories, the fear and hopelessness, and most of all the messages I received during a life shattering time in my life.
The second I heard the news about Sarah, I found myself re-visiting the “Boob Box” willingly and thankfully.
You see, I created the post office boxes in my mind years ago as a personal coping mechanism to accept the junk life threw my way. For the acceptance to occur, I had to submit to the process and experience all it entailed.
Opening this box isn’t terrifying. Yes, I recall all the feelings, events, and memories but I can now see the purpose each played in my life. The contents in each box is a huge part of who I am. Feeling a sense of peace comes over me when I think about this box. I drag out my (pretend) shoes I once walked in, put them back on, and walk down a new path with precious souls who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Life offers many horrific experiences we can’t understand at the time. We surround ourselves in fear of the unknown and rarely understand this is part of the process. We are hostage to the fear of the unknown instead of trusting and embracing the process.
God trusts certain people to undergo horrific experiences. During these experiences, we are gaining firsthand knowledge to meticulously place in our own little post office boxes. We shut the door tightly and return when we need to put the shoes on we once wore.
Dear Sarah, you too will feel blessed someday when you re-open your “Boob Box”.