Pain is swallowing my body. Walking 250 steps or more brings extreme tightness in the groins both of both legs and lower calves. To that, former WGN radio host Al Lerner would commically retort, ‘a groin is a terrible thing to pull.’ Spasms crept into my right bicep, forearm, through to my fingers, and radiates significant pain when lifting anything above the shoulder. Through it all, I keep reading previous posts on ‘What’s a good life’ and asking myself, “Am I living it?” That exchange is often followed by remembering something from my past, usually negative, and trying to mentally reconcile that person looking back through the mirror.

I don’t know if life is massive warfare between fortune and misfortune. At this point, I am tired. My body is tired. I am mentally exhausted. Technically speaking, with no doubt, I wasn’t born with some significant handicap. Yet, can ‘doubt’ be a handicap? Yup. Sure, I can. I was infused by, ‘Dang, boy. You ain’t good enough.’ And like a shadow, the ‘not good enough’ snicker followed me. Think about that for a minute. I’ve traveled through 35 countries, lived in three, traveled every state, received a quality education, and am certified in 7 different Information Technology or forensic disciplines. Yet, I ask God, “Am I even worthy?” Ugh, pain always forces one to ask questions that remain unaddressed.

My level of pain is nowhere near that of others. At least, that’s my belief. Thus, as my father’s voice percolates through my head, I hear, ‘suck it up.’ “Mind over matter,” he would dismissively proclaim to every ailment he ever suffered. Still, I don’t believe God gave me any more (or less) s*** because I did or didn’t do something from a previous life or that fate condemned my family due to some despicable act performed by some anceint relative from the 1800s. I believe it’s life. It’s my life. And I have to deal with the cards life dealt, not the ones I dream of.

The forces of EVIL did not give this pain. The forces of EVIL did not give me a dish of cancer at life’s buffet table. It just happens. Yes, it sucks. It happens. The endless nights of pain and stress on my horizon aren’t from some dark spiritual force. However, the cancer process provides ample remnants of a mind-body tug of war. “Can I get a simple night of good sleep?” Followed by, “How can I pay for all this quality medical care (that hasn’t provided much)?” Pivoting to God, “What’s the point? Can you please kill me now?” Followed by, “But wait, if you kill me now, am I good enough to get to heaven?”

A weird thought occurred at 2:36 AM. “How many cancer patients kill themselves?” Scratch that. I already know. Strangely, the actual number is very low. However, I will personally attest the psychological distress brought on by cancer is significant. Researchers speculate that the high cost of health care might lead some cancer patients to forgo treatment to avoid bankrupting their families. Count me in on that: I am in the ‘quality of life’ stage anyway, as opposed to, ‘here’s what we can do’ era. The problem is, whether cancer patients honestly admit it or not, many think about it (suicide). Cancer treatment’s length, intensity, and cumulative side effects probably explain why it triggers depression, anxiety, and personality disorders in many patients. Thus, some, at their lowest point, surrender.

Cancer brings an onslaught of symptoms, emotions, and thoughts, one pushing the other away. And I am here to tell you … “It’s normal.” I am also here to tell you that God was there during my 2:36 AM turmoil. You may think you’re alone, and your insurance, like mine, might have spent $31,000 in testing and treatment, but somehow, I knew that the spiritual kindness woven throughout life was there.

Most people prefer to die at home. Instead, over 90% die in hospitals. However, in my experiences with the spirit of God, I’ve found that He’s done most of His work in the cancer patients’ home, not in hospital rooms. That’s not to say that He isn’t in the hospital. Of course, He is. Personal reconciliation often occurs one-on-one, whenever that 2:36 AM moment occurs. Usually, that reconciliation occurs outside the structure of an office, a hospital room, or invariably, free from the endless cycle of appointments. In the times I felt that I had to develop an ability for improvisation, spontaneity, and was hanging by a thread with no visible means of support, God whispered, “I am always in the world, even if it’s impossible to remember.”

God understands the exhaustion of both dying and not dying. God understands those who wonder if all this s*** is worth it. God is there when people you know do not understand how to talk to you. He is there when almost no one knows how to answer your questions. He is there when your 2:36 AM moment hits, whenever it hits.