For those of you who don’t live in Utah or who are not Mormon, today is Pioneer Day. It is the day that Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley over 150 years ago. Growing up Mormon in California, I didn’t give much attention to this day other than to say, “Hey, it’s Pioneer Day. Aren’t Pioneers nice?” Just kidding. But seriously, we may have had a picnic with our local congregation and for sure, some discussion about pioneers during Sunday services. But most Mormons, residing outside Utah, probably can’t even tell you on what day this holiday falls. Just don’t tell my…
neighbors here in the SLC. I don’t want them to be outraged.
Now that I live in Utah, this weekend has felt like Independence Day never ended. People are still sporting their red and blue attire, we’re still singing patriotic songs at church, and the fireworks are equivalent to the 4th of July. (I was wondering why the firework sales tents hadn’t closed shop yet.) Pioneer Day in Utah is a BIG deal. It’s a state holiday, for goodness sake, gosh darn it! So whether you’re Mormon or not, if you live in Utah, you are grateful for the pioneers because tomorrow is a day off from work!
This is where I stop joking about pioneers and tell you something serious and heartfelt. Countless lives were lost and many trials were endured as Mormon pioneers walked across the United States, from east to west, searching for a place to settle. (That is my one sentence explanation of the Mormon pioneers). At church today, we sang the hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a song written by a pioneer who describes their arduous journey. As I was singing, I realized the parallel between their lives and mine and subsequently, tears came rolling down my cheeks. Here are the words that got me:
“Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell –
All is well! All is well!”
As I consider the past, present and future of my journey with cancer, I can relate to these words that describe the pioneers’ trek across the plains. Cancer has given me reason to think that my lot is hard, just as most pioneers probably thought of their lot. But soon I’ll have a story to tell if I just take courage, get ready to work and don’t run away from the fight. Because God will never abandon me and my story will be, “All is well, all is well.”
And also the last verse:
“And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh how we’ll make this chorus swell –
All is well! All is well!”
If I don’t make it through this journey, if I die before my hair is gray, that’s okay. All is well. I won’t be “toiling” and “sorrowing” like the rest of y’all here on Earth. 😉 I’ll be resting. And working on the other side. Hopefully Jesus hires me. That’d be a good gig.
But if my life is spared again, then how joyous will it be to outlive the medical predictions. Listen, I want to make something clear. I am hopeful, extremely hopeful. My plan is to live long enough to become a crotchety, old grandma. But I am also a realist. I understand that most people diagnosed with metastatic cancer don’t live long lives. My doctors have given me two to five years to live, stating that five years is very possible, but ten years is not likely. So with those numbers all up in my face, I plan to live life to the fullest! I hope I can make it to see my kids go to college, chase their dreams, marry and have kids of their own, but I am at peace if I don’t make it that far.
I now love this song more than I did yesterday (when it was more of a strong like) because it now has greater meaning in my life. I understand better the plight of the pioneers in regards to what they faced emotionally. Hardships were guaranteed during the trek, survival was not. I can now perceive just how brave these souls were. They took courage. They faced their fight head on. And they had faith in God, whether they were rewarded life or death, that ALL WILL BE WELL.