I have just returned from Richmond, VA and Bethesda, MD, where I met with two different Neurosurgeons. Both agreed that the tumor can not be completely removed, and that a biopsy is the best option, to be followed by radiation therapy to attempt to slow the growth of the tumor. In the meantime, my headaches are getting worse, and I'm slowly losing strength on the right side of my body.
Many people ask how I am taking "the news" that this illness can not be cured (at least not by natural means). I am only human, so I was very distraught at first. I was like Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying and praying that my condition could pass to someone else. I spent a while in the chapel crying with Our Lord, but I was immediately comforted with a great peace.
So often in our lives, we pray about our death, not knowing when it will be. In the Hail Mary, we ask Mary to pray for us now, "and at the hour of death." In the First Friday devotion, as well as in other prayers, we pray for a "good death." By a "good death" we mean dying in God's grace with ample time to repent, receive the sacraments, and do penance. Our final goal is to get to heaven, and the liturgy of the Church is filled with petitions for this grace.
As a 24 year old, I was still young enough to feel "invincible" and assume that I had much more time to live. It is hard to imagine otherwise, but Psalm 39 rings true: " You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath."
It is especially hard in our modern world, with all of the worldly desires and temptations, to attempt to imagine eternity. Eternity is infinite. It is longer than the largest period of time that we can possibly imagine. Try to imagine the concept of "eternity" compared to our short time on earth. Our human minds can not fully comprehend it. We were created to know, love, and serve God in this world, but ultimately and as a result, to be happy with Him in heaven. This world is merely a stepping stone. While God does call us to a vocation in this life which will allow us to serve Him with great peace and joy, we must never forget that we are closest to Jesus when we are united with Him on the cross in our sufferings.
Let us spend every day running after Jesus with a deep desire to be united with Him. Please pray that I may do so with every day the Lord wishes to grant me. May I leave my cross with the Lord when I go to sleep, and pick it up from him once again in the morning. In the words of Saint Bernadette: "One more day to follow Jesus and Mary and climb to Calvary, and then with Jesus and Mary, happiness, joy, eternity!"