by Cynthia Caruso
Years ago I stood at the family room window looking at the buck staring back at me, the dawn light coming between the trees behind the buck. I was numb from the news of the prior afternoon, that the lump on my husband’s neck was cancer. Terrified, I thought I was obeying Paul when I whispered the words, “Thank you for this cancer.” I thought we were to thank God for all things. So I did, although I did not mean it.
Jack died. I entered a 15-year depression. Life was hard on many levels.
Yesterday, however, I flipped through an old journal and read about one of my monthly visits to the rector of the church in Vermont, where I moved in an attempt to start a new life. This priest was gentle and willing to listen to me, talk to me, and I always left his office full of joy. We are still friends. I would never have met him, never even have made an appointment with him, had my life taken the course I had planned for it. It was something to be thankful for.
I thought about where I am, right now, at Seminary of the Southwest, and how I would not be here had Jack lived. He would have been 82, and I would not have forced him to follow my dream. I would have been caring for him more and more; but instead, I am studying to become a priest. Another thing to be thankful for.
I thought about my spiritual life, how it deepened after Jack’s death, how it became contemplative and silent, how I learned to pray the rosary and meditate, how I experienced God directly in those silences. Thank you.
I thought of my connection to two different dioceses after I left West Texas — Vermont and Rio Grande, how that happened because I went on a journey looking for new life and a job, how people from both churches, both states, have become part of my Holy Family, and how I would never have gone to New England and then New Mexico if Jack and I were married still. There is nothing to say for these people, except “thank you.”
Paul says to give thanks in all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. I never needed to say “thank you” to God for Jack’s cancer; but I cannot keep from thanking God for the gifts of people and opportunity that I received only because Jack did get cancer.
Cynthia Caruso is a former member of St. Boniface in Comfort. She is currently a seminarian from the Diocese of Rio Grande at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.