Sometimes it Takes a Village

Our little tree, which was planted last year, began to bloom yesterday. I’d wondered after the cold winter days if she would bloom at all. Yet, even with the adversity of harsh temperatures, she managed to persevere into colorful beauty.

The past week has been one of the most difficult yet. Days of weakness and discomfort seemed to determine our steps toward cancelling the trip to Hawaii.

As of Thursday night, it was settled.  We would send the girls to Kauai, and we would stay home to a makeshift version of island life with our hammock and the emerging spring landscape to captivate our hearts.

Truthfully, the thought of traveling hours to a dream destination faded when his health seemed to take a downturn.

But the next morning, something interesting happened.

I am online looking for a number for the airline to see if they will have compassion on our dire state, and refund our money. When one of our girls pulls me aside to share her concern. They don’t want to go away without Bill—or me.

I assure her it is ok, and a normal response in such a situation, when Bill walks into the room and questions our conversation. Unlike me, he is bothered at the thought of them not wanting to go.  That, and he had no idea they would react in such a way, while I totally anticipated their resistance.

I then turn my assurance to him, telling him this is a normal response, and make my way to my computer again, when he walks in and adamantly announces, “we are going to Hawaii.”

“No, we are not.”

“Yes, we are. I’ve decided that we are going.”

At this moment I feel my heart swing like a pendulum, from one side of the emotional landscape to the other.  Might I add, I don’t like such extreme shifts as it makes me, well let’s say, emotionally unstable.

He then assures me that he will be ok, and that he feels well enough to go. Even throws in a smile. I am not totally in agreement with his pain threshold, or how well he actually feels, but I feel excitement rise up for the first time in maybe a month.

I think I am married to the strongest man around. He will assure you this is not the case. Still, it took resolve and determination to travel in his condition. Maybe more than we will ever realize.

So, I write this mid-flight on our second flight of the day, somewhere over the Pacific, with tears of gratitude for the perseverance of this man– and our village of loved ones, because sometimes it takes a village to get one off a desert island.

Thank you to our wonderful neighbors who gave us their time in Kauai.

Thank you to the staff at HP who joined wallets to supply an exorbitant amount of funds, (above and beyond what they hoped for) to not only pay for our flights, but all activities, rentals, excursions, food, etc. Our trip will cost not a single dollar. Zero.

Thank you to the friends and family who have diligently prayed and encouraged us behind the scenes. Some continued to intercede on our behalf hours after our decision to cancel.

Finally, a thank you to all of you who have walked this desert experience alongside our family so we wouldn’t feel alone on our desert island.

Maybe an oasis is the village of individuals who supply needed sustenance when one walks along the valley of the shadow of death.

Or shattered dreams.

Or broken relationships.

Or addiction.

Or whatever stress our lives place on our hearts at any given time.

A heartfelt thank you for making this dream a reality…

Pics to come.

 

Advertisements

Emotions in Motion

My emotions at any given moment vary like a spring weather report.
Moment by moment, emotions in motion.

I ran into a friend in the grocery store the other day, and after a nice long and needed hug, she asked how I was doing.

I share that often it feels surreal, like an out-of-body experience, while other times I actually feel ok, and then my stability betrays me with a chokehold of anxiety causing adrenaline to raise my heartbeat and breathing pattern, until quickly returning to normal–leaving me near exhaustion. And truth is, sometimes  the emotions fluctuate between the three, multiple times throughout a single day.

To illustrate, I’ve included two recent writings.  One appears entirely desperate, while the other feels full of promise and hope.  Both speak truth.

 

FADING AWAY

His livelihood is leaking out like a slow leak in a tire, and I just can’t seem to find the hole to repair it. At first it was hardly noticeable. But now it is noticeably near flat.

I want to be excited about Hawaii, but I’m not sure he’ll be strong enough to go, and honestly, part of me would rather just stay here.

It is like you are slowly fading away.

You no longer work out.

You no longer work.

You count the months in your head, until the invisible deadline arrives you’ve drawn in the sand of time.

You cannot bend over without a headache.

You cannot walk up stairs without losing breath and energy.

You fall asleep before prime time TV arrives on the screen.

You are slowly fading away from this life.

I am so sad.

I feel you giving up in a way.

There are times I look at you and feel excruciating pain within.

I wish you had the energy you had before cancer took over your body.

I long for the days I would be angry with you for doing stupid stuff.

Oh, how I wish you would do something to irritate me again so I could feel the anguish that lasts only for a moment. And then make up just as quickly and float about in bliss of true love.

Instead, I watch you leave me.

One day at a time.

 

BEING STRONG

Months ago our grill died.  It lived a long life and fed us many-a-grilled meat, so imagine my surprise when I arrived home one day to our new grill on the deck.  Fully expecting a newer, prettier version of stainless steel, and instead noticed a big, green, round, ugly egg.  Actually it’s name is, The Big Green Egg.  What in the world?

This oblong object quickly became the newest gadget of his desire. I may be green with envy.  Maybe.  Or just maybe my palate passionately despises smoked food.

Anyway, knowing my aversion to her cooking, Bill decides to take it upon himself to find a suitable companion for me in stainless steel, and we can sell the green monster.  I’m good with that.

But something interesting happens while gazing at sleek steely grills at the bbq store.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a particular accessory.  A pizza stone.  Apparently this green egg has the ability to cook pizza.

To be honest, it peaks my curiosity, when the salesman closes the deal by telling me that Grimaldi’s Pizza uses the same type of approach to cook their pizza, and since this happens to be my favorite pizza on the planet, let’s just say I drool a bit.

So, I am now an eager student to Bill, the Grill Master, Barone and his green sidekick.

Not only that, he’s showing me how to change vents (ok, I mention this to a friend and she is so impressed, until she realizes I actually mean filters and not the vent itself.  Enter laughter here 🙂 ), and pay bills online.  I’m pretty sure the last time I  had this responsibility we had dial-up internet service.

It seems his sole purpose in life is to make me stronger for a time when I cannot rely on his strength.

After the grocery store, we went home and he went straight to bed.  Which brings us full circle–to fading away.  

 

 

Hope

Our short-lived adventure wasn’t nearly as climactic as the movie, The Bucket List, when two terminally-ill patients, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, decided to leave their cares curbside and embarked on an adventurous itinerary to fill their brief timeline left in life.

Maybe that’s what I hoped for when our luggage-packed Jeep, named Betty, left the driveway for destinations unknown–hoping that adventure would include over-the-top scenes and memories to look back on for years to come, so reminiscence would replace the void of loss.

So we left last week in our slightly used, but way cooler version of the I’m-having-a-mid-life-crisis-need-a-shiny-Vette-to-make-me-feel-young-again sports car.  Instead, the Jeep Rubicon, decked in black on black, was our travel companion on our road trip.

 

So much has happened in the last couple years that adventure only seemed appropriate.

On Friday morning we headed out.

Soon after we jumped up into the front seats, a notification on my Facebook timeline alerted me that two years ago, to the day, we moved into our dream home.  The home which seemed to have dropped down from Heaven above.

The very next day, another message appeared that was originally posted one year ago–a message from me alerting my friends that chemotherapy had ended sooner than later because of a low red-blood count.  But I assured everyone (including myself) that the oncologist believed it did what it was supposed to–meaning it killed all roaming cancer cells.  A year ago.  It felt like an eternity ago since I desperately held onto that false hope.

Around the time of last year’s hope-filled post, we took a short excursion to a hotel nearby for a couple of days of rest, when I had a dream/nightmare. It seems to sum up our experience of the last two years:

I am driving in the rain. I can barely see for the water acts as a shield from my vision. The glare from the headlights only makes the drive more difficult. Somehow though, I make my way to an exit, and sit off on the road’s edge for what seems like a minute or two while I ponder what to do next. 

 

I think Bill interjects, saying he can drive, but I tell him I got it.

After regaining composure, I maneuver my way onto the pavement again and see a fork in the road up ahead.  I slowly attempt to take the slight curve to the left, when I am stopped by a huge boulder which barricades the entire lane.  

I look the other way and see a deep sinkhole, with crumbling rocks all around its edges-caused from an earthquake, or something of significant magnitude, as the road is swallowed up in the depths.

I slam on the brakes.

When I notice another option suddenly appear–only in dreams can new paths appear without road crews and endless construction.  But quickly realize the pavement ends at the edge of a cliff. 

We cannot go any further.

I wake up exhausted and anxiety ridden. 

A couple days ago we ended our brief adventure at this same hotel, feeling somewhat dejected and depleted of energy.

I sit here, wondering what to call this writing, when a song fills my earbuds about holding onto hope.  Hope.  When roads crumble and adventures end, I know my hope is not in this timeline of life, but securely fastened in eternity, when bucket lists and oncologists will no longer be necessary…