She sits at a table across the room, her face framed in soft profile against the wall of latticework. Vintage signs hang on the walls amongst the old farm implements and antiquated tools that appear to be remnants from the Medieval Ages. Her head is tightly wrapped in a colorful silk scarf, obscuring what the chemo has left of her once luxurious long hair. An older woman with short, silver hair sits across from her. They talk over iced tea, just having a typical Southern meal on this typical Alabama Spring Friday evening.
They stand, pick up the check, and nudge their chairs back in place. As they stroll past my table, the woman in the scarf stops to compliment me on some of my photos. I thank her, she smiles, and I watch them disappear into the night.
As I return to my dinner, my thoughts dwell on the woman in the scarf. I’ll call her “Donna,” though that is not her real name. I’ve known Donna and her husband for years. We went to high school together. Both have been successful in their field. They are well known and respected.
And yet one day L-I-F-E rolled the dice and tossed them this cruel curveball.
The last year or two have been difficult for them, to put it mildly. Endless tests, chemotherapy, bad news, encouraging news, out of state trips for more testing, who knows what else?
And yet, despite the nausea and vomiting, despite the hair loss, despite the sheer terror of it all, Donna wears a smile. She could moan and wallow in self-pity and ask, “Why me, Lord?” but she chooses to seek out beauty in everyday life. I honestly don’t know if I could even muster a weak half-grin if I were in her shoes.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I don’t understand why children get cancer. It makes no sense to me that someone like Donna who has been full of goodness her entire life would be diagnosed with cancer, yet someone who abuses children and animals lives to a ripe old age. I’m not suggesting at all that any one person deserves death over another. I don’t make the rules and I am not the Judge. All of us deserve death, to be blunt, but thankfully that debt was paid in full over two thousand years ago.
My point is, L-I-F-E often just makes no sense. Bad stuff happens to good people. I don’t understand why. That’s just Life. Good people die because someone else chose to run a stop sign and T-bone a van with a family of six. Because of someone else’s choice, a former Alabama running back wakes up in the hospital and learns he’s just lost his wife and four children. I can’t even imagine how devastating that feels or what he went through. He could choose to be bitter and angry, to abuse his body with alcohol or drugs, to give up on life.
But he won’t. Today Siran Stacy uses his tragedy to offer hope to others. “Donna” could sit and bemoan the hand of cards she was dealt and cry, “Why me, Lord?” But she won’t. That’s not how she rolls. She’s the kind who pushes past the pain and nausea and embarrassment. She’s the kind who doesn’t dwell on her pain, who notices an old friend in a restaurant and stops to offer a kind word.
That’s exactly how I want to be when I grow up. 78