Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?
The time I last felt total helplessness was February 14, 2006 (yeah, Valentines Day). I think I wrote about this incident when I was writing my ten part series about my mother’s cancer illness and death, A Daughter’s Journey Through Cancer.
My mother had been diagnosed at that time with two types of cancer– bile duct adenocarcinoma and throat cancer. She had gone through chemotherapy for the throat cancer, which had responded well, but not a lot could be done for the bile duct cancer. I accompanied her to the oncologist on Valentine’s Day to get the results of a CT scan she had had a couple of weeks previously. She had been given a good report just prior to Christmas which brightened her spirits and gave her and our family reason to enjoy the Christmas holiday a little more. But on this day, we were given the devastating news that her cancer was now in her lungs, and it had probably metastasized there from her throat cancer. Her other cancers were also growing. We were told treatment would be futile. I knew by the look in the oncologist’s eyes that he was saying it was time to give up.
It was a long walk to the car after that visit. I still remember my mother breaking down on the ride home that day. And I remember the huge lump in my throat that felt as big as a tennis ball. It was on that ride home that I felt so totally helpless. I had absolutely no words of comfort for my mother. What do you say to someone who has just been told by a doctor that they ARE going to die… that the cancer is going to win this fight and there’s nothing more that can be done for them? No words seemed adequate or appropriate. I don’t think either of us spoke a word on the way home that day. The only sound was the sound of my mother’s sniffles and light sobs. I was losing my mother to this cancer monster and there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it. I have never felt such a loss for words in all my life. And I have never felt so helpless.
The last part of this prompt asks me what I did about my helplessness. What could I do? I went home with my mother and lived out the rest of her cancer journey with her. It was a good long while before I got over that feeling of helplessness. It wasn’t until I had finally turned it all over to God that the helplessness feeling left me. God– the one who had control of the reins all along.