Monday, June 30, 2008

What's Within

"What lies before us and what is behind are tiny compared to what is within us."

Today I went back to Hackensack for a routine checkup. I go back about twice a year and usually to a different "post cancer" office building. Today it just so happened that my appointment was back at the clinic where I took chemo almost five years ago.

I haven't been inside the clinic in at least two and a half years and it was really strange to be back there again. It felt so familiar, like my second home, but then it felt like I was an outsider now. I didn't recognize a single patient there. All the ones I knew have finished up and are out of there a long time already.

The doctors and nurses were busy tickling and entertaining JB who was there for the first time, and I was signing copies of my book that I had brought along to give out.

I felt a little out of place talking about my book in a room full of kids who were so sick and seemed to have it so much worse than I did back then, but then the phrase at the start of this post caught my eye.

It was framed on the wall above the secretary's desk and I thought it was so beautiful. It made me feel so at peace with my illness and how long or short or hard or easy it may have been compared to others.

I realized it's not about comparing. Hashem doesn't compare. He gives us all different lives to lead, and different strengths to deal with our different struggles. Hashem doesn't look at us and compare our nisyonos with others', He knows what He has given each of us and expects us to use what He gave us to live with it.

He won't ask me after 120 why I didn't deal with my illness the way Leah'le did, or why I wrote a book about it when Michal kept quiet. All He will want to know was if I used the tools he supplied me with in the best possible way that I could.

He won't ask me about the details in my life, He will already know them as He is the one who maps out those details. He will only want to hear about what was within me. What I used from my own resources to navigate the road he chose to be my path in life.

So when I left my hospital today after a short checkup and a long visit, I left reassured that no matter who may compare me and judge me and criticize, the only two answers I need to give are to Hashem and to myself.

I am growing and learning and changing every day and there is no possible way for me to answer something now that will have to last for eternity, but I can say that I am happy with where I stand right now.

I didn't write this book for me, I wrote it for others. I know what role cancer has held in my life and now I hope that others can take hope and inspiration from my story, whether they like the book or not.

My book comes from that which is within me- my writing was a tool that G-d gave me to use in my personal life struggles and I know that people can say all they want about where I have come from and how far I have gone, but no one can judge me about what is within. That is between me and my creator.

I'm proud that I was able to work my outside experiences into something I was able to internalize. It doesn't matter to me anymore that my illness was maybe a little shorter than someone else's or that my story had a nice ending, what matters is how I dealt with it. I took a look within today, and I guess you can say I like what I saw.

And now I just took a look in the mirror and discovered that my head is once again bloated.


JOE L. said...

I actually bought the book here (but price in EUros instead of $ but it was certainly worth it) but when I went to buy another copy for someone else it was already all sold out.

Anyhow everyone wants to know if you're planning on translating to Hebrew and when (as they're not that good in reading English).

J.A.P. said...

Joe, the translation is not up to me- ArtScroll decides when to do it and if they want to. So far they said that they wanted to translate it but I have nothing to do with it.

I would say give it a few months. They seemed like they wanted to get it done soon. I'll talk to them this week and ask them about it.

Anonymous said...

Just saw your book on!

Wow. It is POPULAR!

itsagift said...

You are sooo right about what you wrote! It is an inspiration to read from you again and hear that chizuk pouring out of you!
You are too special for words!!!!
Keep on shining - you are a star that brightens up everybody's life!! You bring so much light into the darkest of situations!!! I'm soo lucky to know you and to be your friend!!

B'siyata D'shmaya said...

hi! i just wanted to thank you so much for publishing your book! I was diagnosed with a brain tumor RL right around the time your book came out and my father had it on my bed by the time i came home from the doctor. I went for surgery and BH it was successful...
and i relate so well to everything in your book- i alternate between laughing hysterically and silently sobbing. And your poems are outstanding- i especially like the one about the train ride- i can relate so well-it has given me so much chizuk- your whole book does- its like Hashem sent me a friend whom i can pick up anytime i need and is always available- and pokes fun at the stuff we all hate so that we find it funny instead...
anyway "megalgalin zechus al yidai zachai"- you must have some pretty big zechusim. Thank you again!May you continue to be healthy! A very grateful girl around your age

J.A.P. said...

B"siyata D"shmaya- wow! Refuah Shelaima b'karov!

I hope my book can keep giving you strength to keeping smiling and believing throughout everything you are about to face.