Mary Q., the talented photographer who took this photograph, had it enlarged and gave it to us as a Christmas gift. Dave and I opened the box Christmas morning…it seems someone else’s lifetime ago… and immediately took down one of the apartment paintings so this could be hung. It reminds us our situation is temporary and we’ll, hopefully, soon return to our beloved farm and, albeit a new normal, way of life.
Do you like that term…”new normal”? Linda said it to me first and then I read it in some informative literature dealing with cancer. It seems each day, some times each moment, has been a new normal for us while all I want is the old normal back. This week has been horrible and, yes, that’s why you’ve not heard from me. A new doc dealt some stunning blows, some hard news, a “new normal” and it’s taken me, at least, a while to be able to slowly stand on wobbly legs and wonder, what next? I cannot imagine how Dave felt, hearing his precious life being so cavalierly negated. This new, young buck doctor who was dismissive in his assessment of not seeing this year out or if you do, you’ll see it from the view of being in a wheelchair. This new, young buck doctor, with his vantage point of health and youth, not considering, apparently, that compassion and kindness would temper his words; not considering, apparently, that words have power, powerful power, and can make or take life. Or, at the very least, hope. Then, the very next day, that terrible, horrible, wretched news was tempered with grace. Another doctor, our radiology oncologist, giving us the same news she’s always given us but tempered with compassion, kindness and grace.
Ahhhhhh, grace. What an absolutely underrated, beloved word that gives, just enough, breathing room; room to suck in some air and think, just possibly… another breath, another day, another week, another month, another year.
Just possibly another.
That’s all any of us truly have – the possibility of another but there’s something about cancer, indeed, any horrible illness, that forces us to deal with the immediacy of possible. To look eternity in the eye and consider what if. What if we die today? What if the cancer grows at an alarming rate? What if we get hit by a bus? What if we don’t choose Jesus?
We’ve had to add another week onto our stay; we can’t go home this week and, frankly, if we can’t go home in another week, I don’t know if I can stand it. I’m already so heart sick, so soul sick at being away from the farm. Yes, we’re doing what needs to be done and have, thus far, done it cheerfully and willingly but I have reached the end of my tolerance and am left empty and wanting. There’s an incredibly empty space at my center that needs filling and only God can fill it but I’m so empty I can hardly breath much less ask. Asking is so totally overwhelming right now and has been all this week. Even breathing is an imposition on my overloaded body.
My word for this year was “breath”; little did I know how appropriate it would be for my life. My thoughts are still until they aren’t and I realize I need to take a breath, to replenish my lungs and blood with life giving oxygen. To breath. To pick up and carry on with laundry, meals, hospitals, doctors, medicines, support; the dailiness of life.
I never knew, until this week, how much sheer energy emotions can suck out of a body. How totally deplenished one can be simply by hearing bad news. How much sleep is needed, nay demanded, by the body so it can merely catch up, much less recover. How much can a body take before recovery isn’t possible? I pray to God I never find out.
There are some things I’ve found out that I think I always knew but wanted to keep locked up in a cupboard where darkness never sees the light of day. Mom has always said if a person could count their true friends on one hand, that person lived a successful life. Mom and life have taught me, friendship is a precious gift albeit a rare gift. In this “journey” with cancer, Dave and I have both found out there are lots of people who call themselves friends but whom we’ve not heard from, much less seen. There are people who have called me their “new best friend” and said, apparently convicting themselves, “love you”. Perhaps they do mean it but it’s beyond my understanding. As soon as
some most heard the word “cancer”, they are seldom seen. Do they think cancer is contagious? Do they think if they are in the vicinity, the “cancer gods” will notice them and BOOM! they’ll get cancer? Do they think?
Hard times give us the opportunity to be large but too many are small, so know this: if you have prayed for us, bless you. If you’ve sent a note, bless you. If you’ve thought kind thoughts, bless you. Because whether we want to believe it or not; whether we understand it, or not…we are all in this thing called life together. And, if we call ourselves a Christian, we will be held accountable for our actions or lack thereof. Every major religion of the world has some sort of “what goes ’round, comes ’round” belief. Some call it karma while the Bible says, “cast your bread upon the water and it will return to you.” If we cast moldy bread, guess what we’ll get in return. If we cast good bread, we’ll receive good bread. What we do, or don’t do, matters; what we say, or don’t say, matters. Indeed, it could be argued that’s all that matters: what we do or say or don’t do or say. The rest will be left behind when we die; all else will be eaten by moths, decayed by rust.
For my abject weariness and exhaustion, I apologize. When I’ve said or done something that has hurt your feelings, I apologize. It is never my intent to, deliberately, hurt your feelings but sometimes I let my mouth run off without my brain. Truly, I apologize. Right now, it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other, to get the laundry done, the meals fixed, the dishes washed. It’s just about all I can do to breath and some days I don’t do that so well either. Add to all that, yet another week of staying in Richmond so we can see more doctors for problems that have cropped up due to cancer complications. Add to that, more visits in thirty, sixty, ninety days and on into the immediate future. We’re doing what we need to do and I’m trusting God even though I feel like a big, dumb ox standing in the field. The only thing I have left is my faith and I hang onto that with a tenacity that surprises me.
As Julian of Norwich said, “…but all will be well, and all will be well and every kind of thing will be well.”
Blessings ~ kind, compassionate, gracious doctors ~ faith ~ hope ~ prayer ~ all will be well ~
Soli Deo Gloria,