Choosing To Really See: Harmony's Story

The warmth of mid-day starts to burn her barely covered scalp. She tugs the red baseball cap over her sparsely grown hair and shrugs. I watch her from my sun chair, aching. She doesn’t even regard her lack of locks as abnormal anymore. It’s just a part of her life now. And I wonder if normal will ever visit her home again. 

We talk as we watch the waves crash against the shore. So much healing to be found in the ebb and flow of the tides. Our shared stories linger in the space between us until the salty breeze blows them out to sea. We silently thirst for more healing so we lock our eyes on the depths of the blue.

We don’t have to say much to understand each other’s hearts. The seagulls squawking over a child’s sandy snack in the distance say what we’re both thinking: There’s just not enough to go around, is there? Or so it would seem. There are too many unfulfilled needs to be met. Too many broken hearts to be mended. Too many desperately lost to be saved. 

The child screams at the pesky birds to leave her alone. She chases after them until they realize that the fight for her crackers is not worth it. The salty goodness only satisfies them if they have to steal it. Stolen goods. That’s what this life is all about. Taking what you want from the weak and the small. Ganging up on the unsuspecting and the innocent. 

I cringe at the thought but this is why I am here. At the seashore. Away from the noise and the chatter. To gain a little perspective. To picture the burdens being washed away from me.

“Why is this happening, God? Why is this greedy cancer eating up my sister’s dreams? Swallowing them down faster than she can reclaim them?”

My bitterness starts to overtake me until I can hardly breathe in the much-needed air. 

Then I hear it. The little girl that just minutes earlier yelled and cried over her unfair circumstances was now laughing. Loud and strong. I turn to see this unexpected sight and can’t believe my tear-filled eyes. She is playing a game with the selfish birds. Teasing them with her food then snatching it away when they swarmed too close. And it hit me like a wet towel against the back. 

Nothing can take away our joy. Life may try to steal our conditional happiness. It may try to sneak off with pieces of our dreams in its beak. But it really all comes down to what we’re willing to let the ravenous glutton take. Because joy depends on the great God inside of us, not on our ever-changing circumstances. 

I look at my sweet sister. She’s watching the harmonious scene unfold in front of her. And she sees it too. This joy that becomes the strength to fight off the unwarranted attacks. This joy that keeps the hungry beasts of anger and discouragement away. This joy that comes from knowing the Healer of brittle bones, diseased lungs, and broken hearts. 

And she smiles as the sun sets on the crystal-clear horizon. I reach across the sandy floor and take her hand in mine.

Together, we laugh in the face of fear.

Together, we choose joy. 


Note from the writer: 

I wrote this article a few months before my sister, Melody, passed away from breast cancer in January 2016. At the time of the writing, I had no idea what was just around the corner but I can honestly say that getting my feelings out in this piece helped prepare me for what was to come. Even in her last days Melody chose joy despite the unrelenting pain she had to endure leaving a grace-filled legacy for her daughter. I did not have the guts to publish this piece right away but feel that now is the right time because of healing that has taken place in my heart over this past year.

For all of you in the trenches of sickness or in the wake of someone else’s battle with illness, I want to encourage you through this story that joy can be found in both happy and sad moments. I have peace that my sister served her God-given purpose here if only to make sure that I now see the beauty in every single day because of her existence. 

{About This Story}

Harmony is a proud Air Force wife and blessed mother of 4 children. Her heart’s cry is to love without limits and live without regrets. She plans to use her criminal justice degree to tangibly help marginalized women and children all over the world. Writing, singing, and running are her methods of soul therapy and Starbucks coffee is her happy juice. You can find Harmony at her blog, Grace for the Wasted Space, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on Twitter