Thursday, September 20, 2018

When Bumblebees Sleep

Early morning.
The temperature is cool.
There is dew on the grass.
There they are.
Tucked underneath the raspberry leaves.

They are asleep. It is too early.
Even for them.
I try not to wake them
As I pick my morning breakfast.
They do not move.

Even as I lift the canes.
They huddle together. Waiting.
For the warmth of the sun.
I find comfort in these friends.
Unexpected companions in my quiet.

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Finding Joy

Used with permission from David Loose

I cried when I learned there was nothing more the doctors could do.
There were no tears when I heard of your death.
Grief is like that.
It is the living in the hard places.
The desperate wish that things would be different.

You asked if you could call me.
My heart sank when you told me the news.
There were tears when I told my husband.
The grief started then.
All those months ago.

There is always hope.
But I knew differently.
I never want to be that person.
The one who insisted “you’ve got this beat.”
Because life is not like that.

Life is messy.
It caught me off guard.
And hurts in the deepest part of my soul.
Until I remember more of the good times together
Than the past few, painful months.

That is when I find joy.

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.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

You are into your eighth decade now. You walk a bit slower. You are involved in fewer activities. Your pace. Your pace has slowed. As a result, you need a little more help. Some things are not as easy as they used to be. There are aches and pains that limit your mobility and make it difficult to do routine tasks. Time moves faster and it’s difficult to keep up. To stay on track.

However, none of these things diminish who you are. As I reflect on my time with you I am comforted by how truly blessed I am that you are my mother. My brother is the lucky one. He has three more years with you than I do. And my sister is the privileged one. She gets to spend time with you every week. But when I think of all the gifts you have given us over these 50 plus years there is not enough paper to capture them all.

First, and foremost, you gave us life. Thinking of our childhood, you taught us to play. To imagine. We didn’t play “cowboys and Indians.” We played “Indians.” We ran around outside in bare feet. We swam in rivers, the ocean, the ponds. We danced in the rain, and marveled at thunder storms. We collected strays and had our very own “Gentleman’s Farm” with various animals and a garden. Summer evenings were spent popping snap dragons and collecting fireflies. Winters included building snow forts and drinking hot chocolate.

We grew up. I’m sure our teenage years were a challenge. Yet you let us explore. There was music. And drama. And books. We traveled. We tested our boundaries always knowing there was a safe haven at home where you and daddy would catch us when we fell.

Do you know how much we love you?

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, June 3, 2018

My Story

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 
-  Micah 6:8

Some of you know my story because you were there with me. Some because you came along later and heard me tell it. Some may just be reading about it for the first time. It’s not an unknown story. Many have a similar one. But I feel that my story is one of a miracle that must be shared. And it is a story that continues today, more than 10 years later.

It started in 2007 with a routine physical that referred me to an ultrasound that led me to a surgeon. It was the surgeon who first used the words “breast cancer.” As I lay on the examining table, being prepped for the first of several biopsies, I was surrounded by nurses and technicians who explained what would occur. They were nice, and spoke in calm, routine voices. A medical assistant stood by the table and held my hand. She talked to me as if we were friends. Knowing where I worked, she asked about mutual acquaintances.

I was surrounded by caring strangers, yet I felt disconnected. However, I had a sense of peace and comfort. The words from Psalm 46:10 were brought to mind: “Be still and know that I am God.” And somehow, I knew that everything was going to be alright.

I had surgery in November, followed by four rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy. I then underwent radiation treatment. It was during chemotherapy that I took the California bar exam and participated in my law school graduation. Having completed that major milestone I could not imagine what would come after I finished my treatments, but I knew I had a purpose.

Romans 8:28 speaks directly to what I know is God’s work for my life: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” At the time I hoped that I would pass the bar exam on my first attempt (I did pass the bar exam the second time I took it) and go on to big things in both my career and this story about a woman who had survived breast cancer.

However, while I was undergoing radiation treatments my mother called to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the privilege of helping her navigate all that meant for her. While our cancers were very different, the trials of understanding the diagnosis and undergoing treatment are daunting. I am happy to report that we are both 10 years cancer-free.

But my story did not end there. In 2013 I became involved with transporting a friend’s mother to cancer treatment. She had a recurrence of breast cancer that had metastasized. Linda became part of my life when I helped take to her Boston for radiation treatments for the tumors on her brain. She became my friend, and we became companions as I routinely took her into Boston for chemotherapy in 2014. She passed away in March, 2015. Her death was a heartbreak like I’ve never experienced before. And yes, I would do it all again.

After Linda’s death I wondered what God would put in front of me. I call it “my next yes.” My experiences in the past three years have taken me in directions I never would have imagined. Upon reflection I realize that God has allowed me to continue to care for others who are dealing with cancer. I will admit that my heart breaks a bit each time a friend reaches out and asks, “Can I call you?” My answer is always yes. Yes you can.

You see, my story isn’t over. It did not end the day I finished treatment. Nor did it end when I reached my 10-year mark and I graduated from oncology. God’s story for my life is more than I could ever have imagined. My story is one of “yes.”  

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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Someone Else's Story

When you tell a story about someone else, it is also about you, as the storyteller.” – Stephen Denning, Squirrel, Inc.

I haven’t written in a while.

Well. That’s not true. I’ve written. I just haven’t published.

My time has been limited. My heart has been full.

There have been moments of grief, and moments of anger. But there has also been joy and grace. Oh, so much grace.

There have been tears of anguish, and diagnoses confirmed long after we knew the truth. Along the way, God has poured out His blessings; reminding us of His goodness and mercy.

There is the comfort in belonging, and the newness of adoption.

You see, my life has been full. Full of living. Full of learning. Full of stories that I have yet to tell because they are also someone else’s stories.

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.