Thursday, February 5, 2009

6 Months and a Million Years Ago

I am really looking forward to my break in a few weeks. Although I'm okay, I can feel that my body is ready for a rest. By Friday of my chemo week it used to be that I was well on the way to being myself again. I didn't really start to perk up this time till this Tuesday. Wednesday I felt even better. Today though was the first time I really felt like myself. Of course by mid afternoon, I'm still pretty much done.

Monday is chemo day. Please continue to pray that this treatment will be manageable as the others have been. The following week I will be having a CT scan. The CT scan is the hardest thing I face. I have really struggled with waiting for the results of this particular test. I know this is silly. Whatever it shows is the same thing that it is before the test. But once I have actually had the CT I inevitably end up being so apprehensive. Considering the fact that the last two scans have yielded such positive results I suppose it's a bit odd that I still feel this way, but I do.

As I watch the time pass, my emotions fluctuate wildly. I so look forward to my break in another three weeks. I can't wait for that time to pass. But it's another three weeks, almost another month of my life which will have passed by. All of these months are passing by so quickly. And I remember that I don't have an endless supply of months left.

I was attempting to clean out my email Inbox this morning. Those of you who know me well, are aware that I tend to "store a few emails" from time to time. Okay, never mind, you all can read through that. Taking a very deep breath, I admit it. I hoard email. So, I was attempting to set a precedent and start the day off with a positive action, cleaning it out a little.

Rather than my usual order I attempted to walk on the wild side of life and start randomly. I slid my cursor up the dates and began. The date I landed on was June 22 of this year. Among many other items were a few internet pages which I had emailed to myself. Some of those dealt with scrapbook room layout and storage ideas. There were recipes which I had found Foodie Blogs and emailed to myself. And a few letters of correspondence from one of my sisters concerning a visit to her house for one of my children. This random stroke of my cursor produced such a microcosmic reflection of our lives only six short months ago.

How could this possibly have been only six short months ago I asked myself. It seems more like a million years ago. At the time, the older girls and I were planning on converting a now unused bedroom into a scrapbook/craft room. Having become a bit bored with our usual fare residing on our dinner menu, I was pulling all sorts of new recipes and techniques to try in the kitchen. Maddie was looking so forward to her upcoming trip to my sister's house which would culminate in her first train ride on Amtrak to arrive back home. Our summer vacation was upcoming and we were making our final preparations for that in a week or two as well. Six months ago, a million years ago.

Reflecting on what I had found from six months ago, I moved my cursor back down to my current messages in my Inbox. Found were an email from Duke to inform me of a follow up appointment, kind words and responses to my prayer requests, and informational news from some alternative treatment type cancer sites on the internet. This is the sum total of my present life? Oh dear oh dear, I don't think so. Looking only at my inbox it would be easy to draw the conclusion that cancer has consumed our lives. When we had initially received close to the worst news that a doctor has the unpalatable duty to deliver, it would not be a stretch to admit that our lives were consumed with my diagnosis. The recent messages in my Inbox would have been an accurate reflection of our lives.
So, a decision must be made. Do I allow my diagnosis to consume whatever life I have left or do I allow God to put the joy back into our lives? Shortly after we received the news, I had made the statement several times that I was not going to allow Satan to steal my joy. I really meant that. Then came yet more bad news, minor surgery, the ever delightful lung biopsy, less than stellar treatment options from one of a nationally known premier university hospitals, and a bucket load of issues from children who've already experienced innumerable losses in their young lives. Where is our joy? One of my many little truisms which I have unselfishly shared constantly with my children throughout the years is the statement that "no decision is a decision."

What decision have we made by not consciously making a decision for happiness, but at times allowing satan to encroach upon our lives giving cancer unspoken permission to rule by default? I reflect back to the last visit with our oldest son, his wife and the potential joy which surrounded me. Four of my girls were in the room with me, happy smiling children enjoying one of our house guests that weekend. My youngest, Lulea was sitting in a chair holding my beautiful new grand daughter Maggie and looking like the most proud aunt that she is. Maggie was making those deliriously delightful little baby coos which accompany her silly little open mouthed smile as only a baby is capable. You know that smile; the one where they draw their legs close to their bodies and wave their plump little arms while the smile envelopes their entire face causing their already round little cheeks to seemingly puff out like a balloon of joy and contentment.

How simple and wonderful life is to a baby. Happiness does not have to be a conscious decision to them; they simply enjoy life as it presents itself. But for we who are a bit older, life is more complex. We have to look ahead. Or at least that what we've been told we had to do. Look ahead, make your plans, your road map. If you don't know where you're going, you're probably not going to get there. Where is your mission statement? Are your five year goals written or just assumed? Have you provided for your retirement, your kids' education, and on and on and on. What happened to enjoying the here and now? Paul told us to be content in every circumstance, to be content with the enjoyment of the here and now. I have to admit that this is hard for me. Having majored in accounting, I like order, it makes me happy. Structure, I think the politically correct term for it is now. Whatever it's called, I like it, always have. How then do I reconcile my "need" for structure and order in my life with enjoying the happiness of the here and now and accepting the fact that the happiness I have now needs to be enough - for now.

We've always told our children that happiness is a choice. You can chose to be miserable or you can chose to be happy. While we may not be able to decide which events of life touch us, we can decide what our reactions to those events are. It's always so hard when look in the mirror of life and find that your own words are staring you in the face.

My oncologist's PA made a statement to me a couple of weeks ago. She observed that in all probability my most difficult adjustment would be to learn to think in terms of short segments of time. Having always been a bit of a type A personality, full of long range goals and plans, trying to adjust my thinking to life in three month segments or less, is quite a stretch for me. It becomes all the more difficult to try to follow the advice of scripture.

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."
Matthew 6:34

One day at a time? I can't even make a list of projects, what about the chore chart? What about planning my meals for the next six months? What about micro managing and planning, well everything? Hmmm, didn't I go through this a year or so ago? You know, that period of time where I agreed to give it to God to whom it belonged in the first place? Thought we'd already been down that road. Evidently, I'm not quite as smart as I thought I was. Seems I didn't learn that lesson particularly well. So here we are again, same issue. But then, even Burger King doesn't advertise "Have it your way" anymore.

Which leaves me still with the same dilemma. How do I look forward to things without engaging in the proverbial "wishing my life away"? The honest answer is I simply don't know. If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know. Sometimes life doesn't come in neat little packages. That's why we have God. When life is beyond our understanding, we can take comfort in the fact that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts and His understanding is not confined to that neat little box in which like to confine ourselves.


Denise said...

Wow. You've given me a good kick in the pants, and I mean that in the most loving way. My week has been bleak, dealing with money issues, worrying how to still care for the needs of my six kids. You have reminded me that I can wallow in it or I can trust God. Like you, I should have learned this lesson by now. My husband died 3 years ago and I trusted God and he provided for me. Not in the way I would have liked, which would have been letting Darrell live, but He provided in many other ways, some so minute and so inconsequential which only proved God's great love for ME. But here I am 3 years later, just like the Israelites of the old testament.

May God bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cindy
Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. I have copied out this blog on pink paper as a reminder to me to live each day to the fullest, as best I can AND to trust God for the big picture (and the future). Not to 'wish my life away'. Denise, thanks for your sharing too and God bless you and your family.
Love Eva, a fellow memeber of the colorectal cancer 'club'.
ps I read a quote recently which went something like:
"Today is the most important day of the year." That's today and each and every day.

Laurel said...

I just found your blog, and really enjoyed this post.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

mama of 13

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