Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cancer

Oh,
it's so hard.
By the time you read this, it will be August 31.
Lou Beres will have been gone for two years.
In March, Fred Schappert was gone for two years.

And little Hadley.
She's enterend a new phase.
No treatments, no fight,
just holding on,
and making memories.

Sometimes it's so overwhelming.
It seems to never end.
The victories are
sweet and celebrated,
but few.

And the losses,
they just keep coming.

Not only the deaths,
but all of the other things
that cancer
steals.

Watch this: and look for Hadley.
She's around 4:40.
Thank you to everyone who's gone to her site and left prayers there.
Look for the link in the sidebar.



Once upon a time,
I wrote on the CaringBridge site about cancer.
And that poem that
floats around the internet.

I think I believe it even more now
than I did then.

Cancer is a powerful adversary.
Pray.
Fight.
Donate.
Tell someone.
FIND A CURE.

April 26, 2006 (first part of post is about driving by the site of Dave's wreck...and playing the radio game.)

I think about that poem....
There are lots of versions, here is one:
Cancer is so limited.
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot destroy peace.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot suppress memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot steal eternal life.
It cannot conquer the spirit.


Limited? It has changed my entire life. Every moment, from August 23, 2005 on. No...from December 23, 1996 on. Every moment. It reaches the depth of my soul and can taint even the happiest moments.

Can't shatter hope? Tell that to anyone who has had to call hospice, to come to that point of knowing that there is no more battle to wage, that the fight is over.

Can't corrode faith? Tell that to a mother who holds her child down for the thousandth needle stick. How can I not question faith in a God who is allowing my children to grow up without their father?

Peace? Cancer has caused so much strife, so much anguish, so much heartache. Peace is a small, still island in the midst of a hurricane, an island often completely under water. I remember watching footage on the tsunami right after Dave died, thinking that even the oceans were outraged, thinking that the wall of destruction mirrored my inner feelings. And later, feeling so horrified...my one anguish so pales in comparison to the complete and utter devastation experienced by so many, feeling so ashamed for being so wrapped up in my own grief that I couldn't even muster caring about anything else. One cancer wife told me that she had similar thoughts after 9/11...the irrational feeling that maybe the world would finally "get" what it is she was feeling.

Friendship...oh, some are like gold, aren't they? But even the best of us break down, fall short and aren't able to shoulder what we need to sometimes. I don't know a person who has gone through cancer or something similar who hasn't said, "Well, you find out who your real friends are..." We've all had the experience of losing a friend. And we say, maybe they weren't really all that great a friend to begin with. Not always. Like my dad has wisely said, "Some can and some just can't."

Memories? Tell that to Cathy, who sits with Lou, her memories unshared, having to break the news to him, fresh every day, that he has a brain tumor. For me, the memories are divided...my life is divided...before and after. And memories...cancer also gives us things we wish to forget...loved ones in pain, poisons pumped in their veins, radiation damage, surgery scars, loss of their bodies, bit by bit.

Courage...I've never been so scared in my life. I've lived in the shadow of fear for 9 years. I live in terror because, after the losses I have survived, there is still more I can lose, even now. There doesn't seem to be a quota, a place where one can say, "Well, I paid my dues. Not my turn. Go hit someone else up for it this time."

Yes, it can invade the soul, it can make you doubt everything you ever believed, even eternal life, and our loving Father. My spirit is weary. I look down the road and see no relief, no rest, no renewal.

On a good day, and yes, there are good days still, I can see that most of what I just wrote about has another side, that often the sting is temporary, the pain, the despair coming in waves, waves that will once again recede and allow the sun to shine through.

(And I know some of you sent me that poem, and in many ways, I do like it and draw strength from those ideals, so please don't be offended or hurt by my thoughts here...but I have to honestly wonder if whoever wrote it ever really looked at cancer and the damage it does.)


So I turn the radio channel again, as all this is drifting through my head, and the tears are running down my face, and I hear....

Testify to Love by Avalon
All the colors of the rainbow
All of voices of the wind
Every dream that reaches out
That reaches out to find where love begins
Every word of every story
Every star in every sky
Every corner of creation lives to testify
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
I'll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough
With every breath I take I will give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
From the mountains to the valleys
From the rivers to the sea
Every hand that reaches out
Every hand that reaches out to offer peace
Every simple act of mercy
Every step to kingdom come
All the hope in every heart will speak what love has done


Faith, hope and love,
these three remain,
but the greatest of these is
LOVE.

And although Dave was each of those things, in every way, until his very last breath....he was
HOPE
FAITH
PEACE
FRIENDSHIP
MEMORIES
COURAGE
SPIRIT and SOUL, sure of ETERNAL LIFE
but
he was most of all,
LOVE

And in the end, it's what I still have. Love.
My hold on the others is tenuous at best, but love, this one I have, this one I believe, this one I hold. The one thing cancer cannot touch.

Back to 2008...
so, in honor of Dave,
do something to fight cancer.
Anything.
You can start by
going to Hadley's site.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Marking Time





Three years...
on Saturday
we marked by visiting the rock.
36 deep red roses.
One blossom for each month,
each month we survive,
continue without Dave,
trying to live out loud,
like he did.





We didn't get to the rock until late. The boys had practice twice that day. Then we went to chinese food at the Golden Horse. They were doing karaoke in the bar. We got to hear "Against All Odds" originally by Phil Collins THREE times. Yikes.

And Sunday we marked another milestone, my birthday, although I kept reminding everyone that on Sunday I was still 44. Monday did indeed come, however, and now I really am 45. Not so very old. Not so very young, either!

On Monday, the kids made me dinner and bought me a Foreigner cd and got me an ice cream cake. They were so cute. Sneaking around, planning their surprises. They're good kids.





And it looks like we're going to keep Grumpy. As you can see, he and Zach have become quite attached. Grumpy is living up to his name. Zach fed him CHICKEN in the car on the way home from the beach, and now Grumpy wants people food all the time. He searches the house for Zach and whines at me when Zach leaves. He's quite an annoying little thing. I don't think I could give him to anyone, they'd probably kill him. Zach's thinking of re-naming him. Perhaps that will improve his disposition!


The kids are all settled in school already. Kate has Explorer Humanities and LA, advanced science, algebra, and PE. She started volleyball practice on the first day of school and is really enjoying it. Zach has AP History, AP Calculus, AP Physics, 3rd year Spanish, PE, and English. He explored doing Running Start at WWCC, but decided to stay on campus at WaHi. I think that will be a good choice for him. Kenny has drama, wood shop, PE, english, math and computer applications. He's thrilled to be back at school. He's a SENIOR! His senior pictures got rained out twice...trying again on the 6th.

All in all, a good start to the year. No trouble getting them out of bed, either. Oh...and Kenny and Zach are both 1-6 period, which means they can drive together! Whoo hooo!

I had brunch with Dee today. What an amazing time. We were there three hours and if felt like three minutes. We talked about the Shack and God and life. It was good for the soul. Some of our favorite quotes:

"That's because my love is a lot bigger than your stupidity." God talking to Mack, who is figuring out how clueless he really is, as evidenced by this one:
"I'm beginning to think I have no idea." I can definitely relate to this level of not knowing. It seems the more I learn, the more I discover there is to know.

And then there's this: "Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person's throat."

Wow.

Please continue to pray for Kristi. She's into the second 12 rounds of chemo. The news along the way has been good, but it's a battle with blood counts, nausea, and all the other lovely chemo side effects. So, please pray for short term comfort and long term results.

Our lovely little Hadley-bug Fox has been battling a brain tumor for over four years now. Her mom is an amazingly inspirational woman. Her site always makes me laugh and smile and cry, too. Hadley has reached a new phase of this journey. Please, please visit her site and pray and pray. And let Angela know you're praying.

And lastly, thanks to all of those folks who sent out their remembrances on Dave's day...
Sue C WW, Patti H NJ, Mark N Seattle, Erik H Seattle, Pete T OH, Dee W WW, Lisa D Bellingham, Denise Kelso, Mom Long Beach, Missy WW, Ginger & Dale, WW, Mindy & Bob WW, Bob & Judy WW, Kathy IA, lesleegp TN, Kathie F WW, Cheri CA, Cathy IL, Sherri H Dayton, Lisa B WW, Judy P WW, Bryan S TX, Tami S WW, Lora W WW, Alex F WW, The Moaut Crew, OR. Gosh, I hope I didn't miss anyone! Thank you all for the notes, e-mails, cards, flowers, and especially your prayers. We continue to need those daily!! We are so blessed to have so many people that care and remember.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Three years


The beauty of the world has
two edges, one of laughter,
one of anguish, cutting the
heart asunder.
--Virginia Woolf



I feel often that my world is in two pieces.
The joy and the sorrow.
The before and the after.
The part you see and the part I hide.

It has been three years without Dave.
I have nothing new to say about that.
It is as it always was.

A stretch of lonely forever that has no end.
And at the same time,
the blink of an eye.


Dreams die hard and you hold them in your hands long after they've turned to dust.
-- Dragonheart.


And so I do.
Hold those dreams.
Hold this dust.

Coming home from Chicago,
I couldn't wait to get home.

To tell Dave all about it.
There was a part of me
that really believed,
really believed,
that he would be there,
waiting for us,
ready to hear the stories,
smiling, laughing.

And the emptiness of our house
turned my heart to dust.
I was so sure,
so sure.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.--Kahlil Gibran


I sit under a weeping willow often.
The long fronds sweep the ground,
creating a new world
under its umbrella.
I sit in my Haroldson chair.

I think.
I do weep.
I delight.

But mostly I argue.
Still.

The Shack touched me deeply,
because the grieving father
who was so angry with God
is so like me.

I don't doubt His presence.
Or His love.
Or His power.
Or even His wisdom
most of the time.

I just think He was wrong.
Wrong.


Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers.
-- Unknown.


And that would be me.
I still think I know better.

There is an image in The Shack
of the man
working with
the Holy Spirit
clearing
this ugly,
overgrown place
in a garden.
The work is hard.
The thorns sting.
He bleeds.

And of course,
it turns out,
he's helping the
Holy Spirit
prepare his own heart.

To love again,
to forgive.

I think about that a lot.

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”--Jim Rohn


And I know that by living with
this sadness,
I am also able to keep
the joy,
the joy that was Dave.
I can no longer have
one without
the other.

I have said many times that grief
is but a mirror,
a reflection.
The depth of our grief
is matched by the
depth of our love.

But we should not be afraid to love,
or to love again,
just because we might
experience pain,
pain again.

“One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.”--Erich Fromm


And that's what Dave brought.
His absolute joy
at being alive,
his complete fearlessness
in love,
his way of giving his all,
every time.

Whether he was saying hello
or goodbye,
giving a hug
or telling a story.
In love and in life,
Dave
was 100%
all the time.
Unafraid.

Unafraid of the future,
of being hurt,
of being a fool.

Knowing that regret
over inaction
out of fear,
is hardest to live with,
he would choose to
risk
and give
the big hug,
the shining smile,
the heartfelt song.

God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.--Elbert Hubbard.


And sometimes,
we get hurt.
Or rejected.
Or feel foolish.

And even when we don't,
we risk loss and
heartbreak.

We are scarred
in this life.

I am scarred.

But I live.
And love.

And explore the journey
that is this life,
what is left to me,
for now.

Remembering
I am not home yet.
There is much for me to do here.



Not Home Yet lyrics

To all the travelers
Pilgrims longing for a home
From one who walks with you
On the journey called life's road
It is a long and winding road
From one who's seen the view
And dreams of staying on the mountain high
And one one who's cried like you
Wanting to much just to lay down and die
I offer this, we must remember this
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
Not home yet
So close your eyes with me
And hear the Father saying "welcome home"
Let us find the strength
In all His promises to carry on
He said, "I go prepare a place for you"
So let us not forget
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
Keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet
Not home yet
I know there'll be a moment
I know there'll be a place
Where we will see our Saviour
And full in His embrace
So let us not grow weary
Or too content to stay
Cause we are not home yet
We are not home yet
Not home yet
So let us journey on
We are not home yet
We are not home yet
So keep on looking ahead
Let your heart not forget
We are not home yet

Not home yet









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Thursday, August 21, 2008

End of Summer

August has slipped away, like it does every year. One day, it's the glorious height of summer. The next, fall is nipping in the air, sliding in when I wasn't looking.

First, there was Peach Basket Classic. Always an amazing event. The whole town turns out to watch 3:3 basketball on the streets. It's usually blistering hot, little heatwaves rising from the blacktop. Zach, Andrew, Seth and Matthew have some crazy team name with even crazier plays. And Kate and friends play a little ball, too. The Haroldsons come and we eat too much junk and sit around the fire at night, relishing the relief from the day's sun, toasting marshmallows golden-brown.

This year was different. The weather was mild, the mornings cool and the afternoons warm, but not unbearable. The Haroldsons were in Norway, so we missed them. Matthew was out of town, so Zach didn't have a team. Kate played on a team with Jaiden, Kiana and Sam. They were great. They even beat the team made up of 4 Sagebrush starters...Sagebrush being an elite Tricities team that regularly beat up on us all winter long. The girls ended up third in their division. We cheered them on as well as Team USA, made up of Zach's buds: Will, Big Zach, Quinn and Tim. They had this huge cheering section, a mascot with a flag and Seth even shaved the team name into his hair. Despite missing many traditions, we still had a great time.






Peach Basket usually brings on a sense of sadness for me. In that, this year was no different. Cathy wrote a bit about this feeling on her blog...the heat of summer...the hot day dissolving into the cool night, the sense of slipping away. For me, it's the feel of the sun on your back, the scent of the onions on the cooling evening air, the sound of sprinklers in the distance, the sight of the dazzling stars sprinkled over the blackest of skies...and that sense of wanting to freeze time, to hold onto that last bit of summer, especially that year it meant that a life was fading away, along with the heat. That autumn would bring a new and merciless crispness, a new school year, a new life to face. Deb and I talked about how the end of summer, the beginning of fall brings into sharp relief the changes that happen around us gradually...suddenly we cannot ignore them. Jake is in college. Kenny is a senior. There is no holding on to yesterday. Whether you notice or not, tomorrow comes.

After Peach, Zach got his wisdom teeth out. Thank goodness he was a better patient than Kenny. No axe-murder scenes this time. They gave him some anti-nausea meds and some anti-inflammatory meds, which seemed to help. The two black and white kittens were his nursemaids. One of them was on him all the time. And they both would rub their tiny heads on his jaw, like they knew where he was hurting. So sweet.



Then we ran around doing the usual before school stuff: sport registration, physical exams, eye exams, dental exams, haircuts. We got Snickers spayed - no more kittens. Put an ad in the paper and found homes for all the kittens except Grumpy. ANYONE KNOW ANYONE WHO WANTS A VERY CUTE BLACK AND WHITE BOY KITTEN????? PLEASE?????

We took a trip to the beach. 8 hours of driving with 3 children, 2 dogs and 2 kittens. I know. Don't even say it. And we got a late start because Kate's window fell out. Don't ask about that, either. Anyway, once we got there, we had a lot of fun. Clam digging. Zach trying oyster shooters. Kate almost wrecking grandpa's tractor. Denise's crew came and Jake brought about 15 friends. They played volleyball and ping pong. Hilarious. The dogs ran around like crazy. Zach's quite the volleyball player. One of Jake friend's, after being blocked for about the 6th time said, "Duke, you're a problem!" (Z was wearing a Duke t-shirt, hence the nickname.) Kate held her own with all those high-schoolers...well, college kids now, I guess! We got our fill of campfires and marshmallows there, since we didn't get to do that for Peach weekend.











Football started yesterday. The boys have daily doubles. Practice from 8 am til noon and again from 3:00 til 6:00 pm. They're pretty tired and sore!

Denise and crew stopped by and spent the night on their way to Pullman. Jake starts WSU on Monday. Whoo hoo! We're all going there for a football game in September. Can't wait to see him and his dorm room. What an exciting time for him. Brings back so many memories. I need to call Peter B in NY...he and I always talk about what a magical time college was. I told Jake to get ready...that he would meet over the next few months, people who would turn out to be incredibly important people in his life...as close as you can get to family.

The kids start school on Tuesday. I don't have to go back until September 22. Gives me time to straighten out the IRS mess I seem to have unwittingly gotten myself into. As well as figure out all Kenny's social security issues before he turns 18. Sometimes I feel only steps ahead of a steamroller.

Gonna sign off for now. More to come Saturday.

Three years.
How has it been three years?
How has it only been three years?