Monday, May 25, 2015

A Jumble of Emotions

I recently walked in my fifth Avon Walk. It was my fifth city, and my home city of Boston. There were many issues leading up to the weekend that could have derailed my participation, but the Walk is a commitment and a goal for me. I refused to get discouraged or give in. This was a significant year for so many reasons.

Back in December, as I was thinking about the Walk and talking with potential team mates I realized that the weekend was personally significant. It was May 16, 2008 that I had my last cancer treatment. Seven years later I was walking in the Boston Avon39 - the Walk to End Breast Cancer on May 16.

On March 17 I lost my friend Linda to breast cancer. I knew back in January that she would not be with us when I walked. While it was sad, I thought it was part of the “acceptance” stage. April 17 was significant to me; she had been gone a month and my heart still hurt while life around me seemed to go back to normal. It then struck me that Day 2 of the Walk was May 17 – two months after the death of my friend.

This year Avon gave out “connection bands.” Each band states the reason for walking. I could have taken a band that read “For Myself,” but it was the “For Someone I Miss” band that touched my heart. So I wore it for Linda, and thought of all the others that I have lost over the years.

I had known that this year would be difficult because my focus was on Linda and my loss. My reason for walking had changed. Opening and Closing Ceremonies are always emotional. This year, more than ever. I am thankful for the friends who have survived. And I thought of them as statistics are cited. We are the lucky ones. I cried when “loved ones we have lost” were mentioned.

This year I walked with the Solo Strutters; a national team that participates in each walk. It was formed so that no one would walk alone. Along the way I walked with others. Each person had their reason for walking. Each faced their own challenges over the weekend. I walked with Hillary for a while and we talked about walking alone and realizing that we are never truly alone. Both literally and figuratively.

This weekend was a jumble of emotions. Joy at being a survivor. Grief over the loss of a friend. Awe over the care that others bring and the connections that are made. And thankfulness for God’s grace through it all.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mundane Faithfulness

Back in October I came across Kara Tippetts and her book The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. I don’t remember how I found her, but I’m sure it was a connection to a connection among the on-line breast cancer family. You see, Kara was dying of breast cancer. She died a few days after Linda.

Kara has a website that is now being maintained by her friend Blythe Hunt. What I found in Kara was a grace that I know is difficult. Her posts spoke to me in a way that I haven’t been able to articulate. While she was dying I found that her messages were for me; the living who knows someone who is dying. In between the lines I knew Kara was struggling, and hurting both physically and emotionally. Yet her on-line presence spoke of seeking God’s face and finding grace every day.

As the New Year rolled around my husband subscribed me to a daily devotional that is delivered to my email inbox. Each morning I read the scripture presented and read the commentary of that day’s author. As the months have progressed I find myself pausing during my day and thinking about how God would want me to respond in the moment. I often fail. In fact, one day last week I completely lost it over an oversight and immediately regretted my reaction knowing that God’s grace was certainly not in that moment. (Fortunately, I stepped back and took a deep breath before proceeding).

During the Easter season I was reminded of Christ’s struggle of faith. It is recorded that he prayed “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” [Luke 22:42 ESV] just before being arrested. I, too, struggle with who I’ve been asked to be; what I’ve been asked to do. Those who have followed this blog from the beginning know the “why” behind The Reluctant Survivor. You also know that I’ve said “yes” to the Avon Walk; a physical challenge that this non-athlete is amazed to undertake each year. So I seek grace to be able to step up to the challenge.

Linda was a “yes,” and her journey was very different from Kara’s. Yet very much the same.

I don’t know what my next “yes” is, but for now I still have the Avon39 Walk. And as I seek grace I will strive to be faithful in the mundane.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.