Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I appreciate my sorrow...


The Hubs & Me
What I love about my life today: Okay, so ‘love’ is too strong of a word. Let me rephrase. What I appreciate about my life today? I appreciate the ability to feel sorrow. Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. I appreciate and cling to the fact that I’m able to feel at all and that sorrow allows me to mourn openly what needs to be mourned. Bit by bit I’m losing my husband. The cancer is winning the battle. This week’s trip to Mayo revealed that to me more than most. We had some good news. The blood tests revealed that Gary’s liver is holding its on. I don’t know how or why with twelve tumors making a home in it, but it is. That’s good news. However, the blood test also revealed something else- his LDH (lactate dehydrogenase, yeah, me either) levels are higher. These elevated levels could be good news or bad news, only a CT scan will tell. It means either the cancer cells are breaking up or the cancer is spreading. Those are my only two choices. Of course you know which I’m rooting for. The fact that our doctor forgot to order a CT for this visit allows the suspense to go on for another week. (I’m not mad at our doc for this oversight. He really is a sweet man and a good doctor. Unfortunately, he’s only human ... like me. Sobering.)
But here’s the deal, even if the CT scan reveals that the cancer cells are breaking up, our doctor cautioned us to remember that this will only be temporary. The cancer will eventually wizen up to the fact that we’re kicking butt and will regroup and outsmart the chemo. We are only buying time not saving a life. Believe me, I’ll take what I can get, but unless our Good Lord intervenes and I believe He can, (I believe He is all powerful, I believe He loves me, I believe He knows what I want and I believe He is compassionate. What I also believe is that life on this earth isn’t supposed to last forever. I believe that life, true life, follows death.) Gary only has a year at the most.
So, I grieve. I feel sorrow down to my marrow. Sometimes, I feel the sorrow so deeply I can hardly breathe. Sometimes the sorrow is like a doughy lump of clay lodged in the pit of my stomach. And sometimes sorrow comes as a release, a blessed release that allows me to weep, wail and drop to my knees. That is when it is a gift, a glorious gift of release. This release empties me and allows me to start over, to stand upright and greet the challenge of the day head on. I appreciate the sorrow. It keeps me on task, focused on the here and now. My sorrow prods me to remember that time is short, do not waste it.
And really, isn’t that true for us all? It’s just that my life has been given a timeline that I can hold in my hand. You have one too, it just hasn’t been revealed as clearly as mine. Don’t waste your days on frivolous thought or petty time consumers. Reach out, hug, touch, and by all means, say the precious words that need to be said.
I appreciate my sorrow. It has opened my eyes to the Glory ahead. Cancer may win the battle, but my Love, my sweet Hubs, will win an Angel-escorted walk toward Something and SomeOne so much better.  
I appreciate my sorrow.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How's your smeller?

Murphy on the open road.


LuLu, Murphy and I hit the road this morning. Murph was terribly excited. I hadn’t allowed him to go on a ride in his little basket for a while so it was a special morning for him. We just did three miles. The first mile and a half was great. Murph settled into his perch on my handlebars, LuLu, my pink bike, glided like a dream, and The Cowgirl (my buttocks) wasn’t protesting too much. Then we turned into the wind and everything got hard. I had to change gears, the Fake Knee started protesting and the Good Knee wasn’t none too happy either.
And Murphy? He got a scent of something. He stood and pranced in tiny, tight circles in his basket, started squeaking and kept his nose up in the air. All of his jerking movements made it a tad crazy to steer by the way. But I had to smile. I knew he smelled the donkey and the peacock from about three quarters of a mile away. He couldn’t wait. The aroma that was wafting in the wind toward us made his ears twitch. The musky scent filled him with anticipation. Then as we pedaled past the neighborhood menagerie, Murph sat as still as statue except for his tail and inhaled the scent and the scene before him. He was one happy puppy.
The scent. The aroma of something wonderful. The anticipation of something glorious. The sense of smell is very strong in some. You could blindfold me and allow me to smell the neck of each of my sons and I could tell you which was which. With that same blindfold on I could smell the hands of ten men and pick out the scent of the Hubs.
Did you know that Jesus has his own scent? It’s true. Listen to this: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2 (ESV) As Jesus hung on the cross an incredible fragrant aroma arose permeating the entire universe.  For those with good smellers, the scent was everywhere…the very fragrance of God Himself.

I long to be like my little dog, Murphy—able to smell what’s coming in the wind; To be able to anticipate the joy coming just by the sweetness in the air. I long to be that in tune to the Spirit around me. I long not only to feel God’s Presence, but to smell Him standing next to me in the room.

I must tell you, since Gary’s diagnosis of cancer I believe I have. I have smelled God just as sure as Murphy picked up the scent of the neighborhood donkey and peacock. His scent is strong in that chemo room we sit in once a week. There isn’t a corner in the Mayo Clinic that doesn’t hold the lingering fragrance of God. I’m sure of it.

How is your smeller?  What scents are coming your way? Be alert. Take a whiff. Holiness might be standing near.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Forever Friends...

One of my Forever Friends riding LuLu as Murphy navigates.

What I love about my life: a pink bike and Forever Friends. Over the weekend the Hubs and I got to visit with some old friends. Even though it had been over seven years since we’d seen each other our conversation began as seamless as simply turning to the next page of a book. If you’re wondering, that’s the sign of a Forever Friend.
These friends are bike people. They ride hundreds of miles a year on their fancy-dancey bicycles, so when LuLu came into my life, they were immediate fans. When they arrived on Saturday they could hardly wait to be introduced to the pink bike. LuLu was quite pleased with herself and with the attention.
I wake some mornings and don’t know where I am. Oh, I know I’m in my own bed and my own home, but I don’t recognize my life. Gone is its rhythm. I walk clumsily through my morning wondering what I should be doing or not doing. By the afternoon I still haven’t got my bearings. Gary’s illness has created a static of sorts in our days shorting out our energy and causing havoc to our emotions. Yet, a visit from a loved one always has this lovely grounding effect and acts like a directional on our hearts. I love my life because of Forever Friends and recently it has dawned on me that I have oodles of them. How great is that? We have all these friends who write us notes, emails and letters, real honest-to-goodness letters, just to tell us they are thinking of us, praying for us and loving us. The Hubs and I get these phone calls out of the blue and the minute we hear a sweet familiar voice, for a brief moment, the rhythm is back. The bass, the treble, the beat of the drum once again rights our hurting world.
I love my life.
I love my pink bike, LuLu. In her own way, as I pedal and balance myself on her always torturous seat the residue of my old life, the life that was full of a healthy husband, longing dreams and future plans is remembered and cherished. As the wind greets my face, combs my lashes and refreshes my spirit, I remember, oh so briefly, who I am and what great gifts I have been given.
I love my life.
I have a pink bike. I am surrounded and blessed by Forever Friends.
I love my life.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Giggles are off limits...


What I love about my life today:  Giggling Children. Tonight I watched my two-year-old grandson entertain his nine-month-old sister by jumping off the bed onto a futon mattress and turning a somersault into a cloud of pillows. As he flipped, he giggled which made Nellie Rose giggle, which made Cian giggle even more. He did this not once or twice but lots, over and over again. Nellie Rose giggled every time. Up until this point, Cian could take or leave his little sister. He woke up one morning nine months ago to find that he was no longer the baby of the family and was none too pleased about the new development. At best, he’s tolerated the new pecking order but had not embraced it… until tonight when he discovered she thought he was the best thing since breast milk. They giggled together until they gave themselves hiccups.

These days, giggles are hard to come by at the Cleveland house. Not much to laugh at when your liver is full of cancer. Yet, Cian and Nellie Rose weren’t the only ones giggling. It was infectious. You couldn’t be in that room and not feel your lips turn up into a smile and a giggle start to gurgle out like a huge bubble gum bubble.
Cancer cannot rob me of laughing babies and giggles. It just can’t. I won’t allow it. Giggles are off limits.
So, today I love the fact that I can still giggle. Even amongst the sadness I can still be surprised by joy. That must be close to a miracle or something don’t you think? I never would have thought that the mercy of God could be so profoundly demonstrated in the sound of a giggle.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me... and the giggle of babes will oft times do thy bidding." (The italics are mine) - Psalm 23 and then some.

Papa & the giggling Nellie Rose

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I love my life...


“What I love about my life today:” I have a writer friend who every morning starts her Facebook entry with those words. It has made an impact on me and it is one I want to steal (oops!) I mean borrow for myself (Sorry, Vinita).
I can’t allow all the sorrow I’m feeling these days to own me. While I think it’s healthy to mourn what the Hubs and I are suffering through with his cancer, I must keep looking for what’s most important about these days and this path. So, today I am going to rejoice in the fact that my grandsons and I went ‘froggin’. Yep, you heard me… froggin’. We kicked off our shoes, rolled up our pants and started wading along the edge of our pond. First, though, we had to get our froggin’ hats on. Mine was pink with a wide brim. Four-year-old Cormac’s was Papa’s Roll Tide ball cap. Two-year-old, Cian’s hat was MeMe’s Packer ball cap complete with a pink “G” smack dab in the middle of it. Armed with a Bug box, garden shovel and a sand shifter off we went to hunt for frogs.
While the boys and I were on our adventure, Papa Gary and nine-month-old Nellie Rose were hanging together. And here’s what I loved most about my day, Papa Gary felt almost like his old self today. While he wasn’t jumping through hoops, he and Nellie Rose clapped their hands, played patty-cake and cuddled for a good long time. Two days ago, Gary didn’t have enough energy to hold Nellie Rose longer than a few minutes and he took more naps than he was awake. But today he felt good. He played with his grandchildren, granted he wasn’t up to froggin’ but he did a mean patty-cake. The cancer is going to do what it does, but we don’t have to let it be so stingy. Today, Papa was Papa. It was a good day.
Oh by the way, we didn’t catch any frogs but somehow we ended up soaking wet. I don’t know, give a MeMe a garden hose and sooner or later someone’s going to end up on the squirting end.
I loved my life today,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I write truth...

Papa & Nellie Rose


Yeah, I’ve been missing in action, I know. For the first time in my adult life, I am finding ‘writing’ to be hard. Usually putting words to ‘paper’ have been my oasis, my comfort, and my sanity. But not today, or yesterday, or the day before. The words are there but they are scrambled. They are flimsy and when I put them on a page they come off sounding thin and as see through as a gauzy curtain blowing in a wind.

I keep rearranging the words on the page like Scrabble pieces but they don’t make sense. I write the word ‘love’ but it comes out on the page as ‘sorrow’. I spell out the word f-a-i-t-h, but it appears as f-a-i-l-e-d.
My words are in mourning. They have no legs or strength. I don’t like what I have to write. I want to write and tell you how my husband is healing and recovering. I want to write how the treatments are working and the cancer is disappearing. Those are the words I want to write, long to write. But I can’t write them. I can’t because they are not true.

Gary’s body is not responding to treatments. The cancer is winning. The cancer is invading and taking hostage my Love. I hate writing that. I hate committing those words to paper. Those words are ugly. Hateful. Those words ooze with despair. Those words betray me.

So, I try again to write happy things like Gary is feeling better. The cancer is retreating. Our life together will not be cut short. I so want to write those things, mean those things. I so want those words to be true. But I am a writer. I write truth. Those words aren’t true.
My words are in mourning. They lack nourishment. They are shrouded in a dark veil.

However …

There is this one word… this one word that still pops on the page. This word still has power. This word still has strength. This word is still True. All it needs is a flicker, a tiny spark, a willing heart and it jumps on the page dressed in white armed to the teeth with fight. The word is…

Actually, it’s two words. I utter them all the time. They are the words that come and stand alone beside me. They are the words that come when no others will. They are the only words I have left.
They are the words that embody everything I feel, want, wish, and hope.

I sigh. I cry. But they do not desert me… those two words… those two precious words…

Dear God …