I’m Ahava Emunah, And I’m Happy

I am happy. If you were to meet me, in person, for the very first time, you might think that I’m a woman with a very short buzzcut, under my beret. I don’t think you would know what lurks under my physical facade. 

I smile.
I laugh.
I AM happy.

I have all of the prerequisites for being happy:
I’m married to the man of my dreams.
I’m blessed with five wonderful children.
I have the best parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews and niece.
I’m blessed with a loving and supportive extended family.
I’m blessed with caring friends who are so fun to spend time with.
I live in a loving supportive community.
I believe that there’s One God above and He is good.
I live in the Holyland of Israel
I have an awesome pet dog.
I enjoy my life.
I feel loved.

I often stop and reflect. I pause and take a moment to be silent in my surroundings. I close my eyes and hear my own heart beating, I feel the air entering and leaving my lungs. I feel life. I reflect on mine; on these past two years, and the years before. I remember and think about some of the toughest moments on my Life Journey and most recently, on my Cancer Journey.  I have discovered that my most painful life experiences happened when I allowed fear and anger in to chip away at my core.  The darkest moments were times when I felt weak and vulnerable, fear was at its height, anger reared its ugly head, and worst of all was when those emotions consumed me to the point of blocking out my hope, my happiness, and even my love. When you’re scared, what is the one thing you need most? Reassurance. You need to know that everything will be okay which is often expressed or felt with a hug, a caress, or a kind word yet when fear takes over it can easily be expressed or translated into a negative act resulting in the opposite of what we need most. During my journey with cancer, which began in July, 2012, I have witnessed this phenomenon over and over again. I see it at the hospital, in the clinic, in on-line support groups and I experienced it myself too. One of the things I fear most is physical pain and nausea. The anxiety on the drive over to the hospital each week is enough to make me vomit. Working my way up to a treatment; fearful and sad inevitably led to a more painful prick of the needle and with time maybe even worse blood test results. Chemotherapy is possibly the most intimidating of tests I’ve had to face and there have been moments when my fear and anger consumed me. Those moments, saturated in fear and anger, will forever be my most painful moments and the ones I’d most like to avoid experiencing in my future; in sickness or in health.

Giving over completely to faith means completely letting go of fear. It’s not simple at all. For me, faith is G-d and my beliefs. For some that might be, A Higher Power, or Mother Nature. It doesn’t matter – it’s unblocking that control-center in your soul, your heart, and your mind and relinquishing all fears, doubts and problems and letting love take over. It will inevitably lead you directly to spiritual growth and happiness. All of this is difficult especially when you’re not dying tomorrow or any time soon. It’s all the more difficult to “let go” when there’s no reason to. I’ve learned that the only way to plow through all the negative feelings and emotions, that hide out inside of my heart, and go beyond the range or limits of those fears and pain, anger and hate, is to realize this very simple thing: no one can make me happy or sad and things don’t “happen” to me. I choose my response, emotions, and feelings and these are the only things I have control of. The only person you can change is You. The only person You control is You and nobody but You.

I am not afraid. I choose to love even the seemingly “unlovable”.  (This is not the same thing as, “love your enemies and pray for those who curse you” from the Christian bible.) I’m not making the suggestion that you give in or show affection to enemies and lie down for a threat to mow you over. On the contrary.  I refuse to let the negativity from those bad things permeate my life. Love and happiness, as weapons, are the rubber and the glue that bad things bounce off of and stick to.  That adversity, that disaster, and those hard times or those bad, contradictory people will literally bounce off of the suit of armor that is made up of the layers upon layers of love, happiness, and faith. Overcoming resentment and hate is the way to clean up the emotional debris which is the absolute greatest obstacle to happiness and inner health. If you can clear away that so-called debris, the calm, the emotions you feel will actually inoculate you and safeguard you from anything. It’s almost like being immortal. Indestructible. Impermeable and airtight to any assault of the psychological kind.

When I stop to read my own PET scan results and pathology reports, I feel like I’m reading someone else’s disastrous nightmare. Surely I cannot be the site embodying such an aggressive and nasty colony of cancer!  How can it all be true? Yet, I’m happy. I chose this happy path that I’m on. Not the cancer. Life.
I want to spread it around like cancer spreads. Not only do I want to infest my world with the joy and love that I feel, I want my happiness to metastasize to every person I know and every person I meet along the way.

Every single person, on this earth, has their own tests and their own “cancer” in life to deal with. Sometimes Cancer is viewed or perceived as a punishment or a curse. What have I done to earn such a smack on the cheek; such a punch in the gut? Really? I mean, maybe I got sick because I have a bad gene or a bad attitude or maybe it’s just fate?  Maybe G-d just wanted to wake me up from my own monotony? I have come to see the blessings in this disease because it’s woken me up and allowed so much love and faith to pour in! I’m blessed. G-d gives me a test and shows me unfathomable mercy. I have complete faith in Him. 

When I got sick, I cried out to my family, to my friends, and my community. I wasn’t quiet about it at all. I’ve been very very public. I cried out for help and every single person that I care about is here, in some way; giving. People that I know less well are also here. Giving. Reaching out. My family is constantly at my side, with me and holding me up. My friends and community are encircling me, my husband and our children.  We’ve received endless and selfless offers for support that I cannot even write about. How is it that I know SO MANY people who possess seemingly endless amounts of goodness and pure-hearted kindness?

We are all watching, not just watching but participating. The experience is mutual. The kindness, love, and prayers are all flowing all because I continue to live my journey – hand in hand with a life threatening disease. While I’m just the vessel, the inspiration is flowing because so many people; my family, friends, and good people of my community and beyond are kind and good.

I believe that unconditional love is the cure to all of Life’s Problems.  If love is so simple, why do so many people suffer in search of love? Why is it so difficult for people to say, “I love you”??? Love is the anti-weapon, the opposite of a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage. Love is also the ultimate weapon, a means of gaining an advantage or defending oneself in a conflict or trial .

How does that make sense?

Just as fear, anger, and hate come together in pairs and threesomes, faith, happiness, and love go together and breed each other. If you choose to react to the difficult situations with the same gusto, the same embrace and moving-right-along attitude, many people will be caught off guard and they may not know how to react to you. I’ve noticed that even the most bitter and difficult people eventually succumb to methodical loving acts and regular (genuine) smiles and kindness. So too are pain and fear. Hate, pain, and fear are eventually tamed when confronted with love, and joy and while many people are confused and unable to understand such emotions at such times, it’s something that they cannot take away from me because I own those. Emotions cannot be taken. So what about true sadness in this world like tragedy, loss, illness and death? Even those things can be tamed by love and faith. No person has the ability to control the time or date, only I can choose the mood, the air, and the character of what and how I leave this world. That is why love is the ultimate element in life because it’s indestructible and it truly and indefinitely does conquer all. It lasts forever and when used generously and soulfully, it lasts forever, even long after we are gone.