Uprooted in Grief and Fear

I feel the vice grip of fear entangle me this morning as I contemplate writing a blog post, talking myself out of such an endeavor, that God really didn’t nudge me at all.  Justifying my disobedience with the fact I am still horribly grieving most days, and He wouldn’t ask such a thing of me while I am still entirely too down and out.

I am writing after all, so what is the difference whether I keep it private, or post it anyway?  Just a matter of logistics, and maybe a few dedicated followers who actually read my ramblings. Not a big deal.  Or is it?

That, and was I perhaps playing the “victim” card I verbally speak against on almost a daily basis?

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

“I am not a victim.”

The exhilaration of His guidance at the possibility of blogging again had me leaping at His quick response to an inward request for clarity on the inaudible whisper I was certain was from Him in the first place.

I guess I am afraid.

I see a sign post today, laying flat on its back from the storm.  I ponder its uprooting.

I mean really, Harvey has hardly made an impact here, so the fact that it is a casualty, hasn’t weathered the storm at all and is down for the count, has me feeling like if it were a person, she would be playing the victim card herself.

She is too tired to hold up any longer. Too emotional to weather the pain.

“Let someone else alert others of the approaching curve ahead,” she would say if she weren’t an it.

Instead she lay there broken.

It is time to write publicly again. I say this with a bit of trepidation in my fingers as I type the commitment.

Yesterday, as I read a book’s introduction, the author quotes C.S. Lewis on fear and grief:

“No one told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Yes, I’ve stayed away from this outlet more out of fear than anything else.  Fear of what?  Fear of a subtle shift of writing “to” instead of writing “from”.

It is a slight deviation that keeps me on the shallow end instead of the depths. Wondering if people will read what I write and feel compelled to rescue me from myself.  I get it.  As I read through the first entries of this writing journey post Bill, I see me too near the ledge, feet teetering too close to the edge, close to jumping out of this life, into the after life.

But, I am still standing here today.

Actually I have made it 111 consecutive days of writing, meeting God at the kitchen table with Bible in hand each morning.

Yet I know my writing is beyond my own healing. It is meant for God to be known, especially so in the midst of this inescapable darkness.

I have many moments that blow my mind away of how God is moving in the midst on my behalf.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.

So, to keep me from compromising, I’ve decided to continue on today privately, but begin to post from former days and move forward from there.

They are choppy at first. Raw.  Difficult. Unedited.

My hope is you glean a glimpse of His Glory in the midst of such darkness.

 

Today I leave you with the initial entry from May 8th:

Sitting outside staring at the last of the blooms from the tree that was planted in honor of the man who died of cancer. No, not my husband, but the former occupant of this residence.

We just made it back today after a whirlwind of memorials in two states, and in exhaustion hit the bed as I stared at a pic of the two of us, and cried myself to a deep sleep.

I feel this thought creep up–would this not have happened had we not moved into this home? I mean, really, the eeriness of the similarities has me wonder. They moved here. He got sick. Died. We moved here. He got sick. Died. What if when it happened, we just moved? Would chemo have worked at that point?

I know.  Josie don’t go there. You are not superstitious. I know.

I’m just heartbroken.

 

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.  

 

 

Acknowledging Grief

I enter the room, carefully maneuvering around the land mine of a familiar face, which I desire to avoid for fear familiarity will cause an explosion to my composure.

I make my way to a corner to hide in the wide-open, when the gracious host walks my way and asks how I am doing. “I am on the verge of a panic attack.” I honestly answer. She acknowledges my pain with words of comfort, and by pulling me close.

When I say something that instantly feels profound, “I want this more.”  As much as I struggle each time entering this room, especially after last week’s discouraging news, I want to be in that room more than allowing fear to cause me to flee.

Sometimes there are times we need to set grief aside for the better option, which in this case is community.

Yet, there is also a time to be still and acknowledge the deep sadness within and not run from her turmoil.  Like right now. The tears are fighting for release.  And all attempts to keep them under lock and key have me an anxious mess.

Release is important and necessary. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on miracles–not at all.  I send desperate pleas Heavenward on a nightly basis. Because truly the landscape is prime for a God-sized miracle as we are without human hope.

Still, to only believe that healing will occur and not allowing myself time to grieve is dangerous ground to tread. Maybe I’ve said this already, maybe I haven’t, but grief is a process that begins before the end of a life. And it is good to grieve.

I grieve when I see him pack away years of hard work into boxes and trash cans.

I grieve when I see him plan for our future without him.

I grieve when I lay beside him at night knowing that this may end sooner than later.

I grieve the day our girls walk down aisles without gripping tightly to their daddy’s Popeye-sized forearms.

Grief is perfectly normal as I reflect on how much this man means to our family.  To attempt to deny the affect his life has on mine would be disastrous to my wellbeing.

I saw a couple on Fox News one morning, a Christian couple I might add, who shared the heartbreaking story of the loss of their son.  I caught the story mid-stream, but guessing they wrote a book on their story.

Leaning in, I listen as my heart prepares to be empathetic with their hardship, I hear the words of the mom and instead feel agitation rise as I yell at her, “This is wrong. You are not grieving. Don’t you see that you are living in denial by not accepting his death?”

Cliff note version:  She says she refuses to use the word death to describe her son because he is in Heaven, or on the other side, or something of that nature. True.  But my issue is with what happened to him, not his whereabouts. He is dead.  Death is a hard word to say, I get it.  But, she needs to come to terms with it, not deny it. It won’t make it worse, it actually will make it better in the long run.  Because by denying this, I don’t believe she is fully grieving the loss of her son.

I know this because I once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Seriously, I am Hospice certified in South Dakota.

That, and my sister died years ago, but because we never dealt with her absence by acknowledgement of her death, the hurt remained underneath the surface for a very long time.

It is healthy to make peace through grief when a loved one is resting in peace. It will rip your heart out more than you think possible.  It may make you throw up.  It is okay to not be okay.

I want this more…

I want to entirely feel even when the feeling overwhelms me to a point of collapse of composure.

 

 

 

Against Improbable Odds

cropped-single-soul-initiative-21.jpg

Statistically speaking, there is a 10% chance of cure.  Yes, I said it.  This percentage doesn’t seem as drastic until you reverse its order:  90% chance of not entering remission. Stay with me here. Don’t go off in thought, thinking of ways to tell me not to entertain such thoughts.  Truth is, it is a sterile reminder based on information from others who have also occupied this similar space.

Now onto a lighter note – isn’t it always how one feels after exposing oneself to delicate places of the heart; the uncomfortable feeling stirs the need to adorn a sweater to feel composure again.

So, I decided to paint a couple walls the other day.  This is what I do as a form of therapy. Either that, or give in to the compulsion to iron, disinfect, or perform other random non-essential duties in times of instability to keep me somewhat sane.

Days before Bill’s first surgery, a sweet friend offered to come over and clean my home –are you kidding me?  My house is almost sterile.

Anyway, we have embarked on a clean eating, cancer fighting plan I am excited about.  I truly believe it was sent from above, delivered via United States Postal Service.

A few months ago, during our time of temporary remission, Bill looked into the status of our insurance policies, wills, trusts, and other pertinent information.  I may not have known his desire to make sure all was secure, had a random book not appeared as evidence. which sat in his office.

Intrigued at the sight of this foreign item of words in his vicinity, since I’ve watched him read maybe a handful of times in our 28 years–let’s say I am intrigued, but, not wanting to appear so, I slowly move toward it with a slight hint of interest.

As I pick it up, he says someone he spoke with from the life insurance company heard positive things about this particular book, and decided to send it to us.

“Oh, cool.” I say.

As I read the subtitle, I gasp.

‘Against All Odds’

I know this is not an ordinary title, or for that matter, an ordinary moment.

A couple hours earlier, driving down the road, a song came on the radio from Phil Collins I hadn’t heard in ages. Aubrey immediately went to turn the station, and I said, “NO, wait, I love this song!” My heart leaped inside as I attempted to retrieve the words from my memory bank of 80’s memorabilia:

Take a good look at me now
‘Cause I’ll still be standing here
And you coming back to me is against all odds
It’s the chance I’ve got to take

Immediately I entered into nostalgia, while Aubrey put on a game face of interest.

The song stayed with me all afternoon.

Then, I entered his office…

Coincidence? Random chance a book arrives from a stranger, states away, the same day I overreflect on a song with the same three words in the lyrics? What are the odds? Happenstance?

One could say, yes. Chance. That is all it is.

No. I say, God. The Author of all existence. The One who edits our course behind the scenes, almost in randomness, with His gentle guidance.

Being one who devours books, I digested it quickly. Talked about it. Planned to follow it completely.  Until, it found its way away from the table, and into a drawer.

Until now.  Dusted off, pantry cleaned of good, but not necessarily cancer-fighting food, the blinding light of my disinfected fridge begs for nutrition to occupy its shelves.

I am ready. Feeling like my own version of a pioneer woman here, but without all the flavor. Still, we will make it through.

You know, odds are a funny thing really. I believe many defy the odds set before them.

It gives us hope when hope seems unlikely, because it places our improbable into the hands of only One with whom all things are possible.

Awestruck,

Josie

 

Trials

Sitting at the kitchen table, I decide to open the pamphlet on the drug Bill will begin in the near future.

Five pages long, it is specifically catered to a similar, yet different cancer, as his type does not have specific trials as of yet.

The similarity is the cancer didn’t  respond to traditional treatment, that being chemotherapy, and has spread.

As with anything on the market which is supposed to be of aide, the warning signs nearly cause one to reconsider, as it may require additional medication to counteract the anxiety-induced attack of panic-driven proportions..

We were assured though the chance of anything too serious was around the 1% range per warning.  Oh, okay, I feel much better now.  Unless, of course, you place a face to the statistic.

Trials are tough, and come with risks.

Life in general is not without a certain amount of risks.  Some days they are entirely obvious, but on others, I wonder how oblivious we are to the risks against our wellbeing.

Bill was asked at the onset of his surgeries to donate his unhealthy tissue for clinical trials, because not only is this cancer rare and aggressive, he doesn’t fit the general profile of one who succumbs to this disease.

Actually, we are excited at the thought of possibly helping another individual from walking through this particular valley in the future, by helping researchers find a cure through his donation.

Even if the cure does not have Bill’s face attached to it.    

Oh, how we hope and pray it is, but, to know this trial benefits another, comforts us also.

Life’s trials are not always solely our own.  And, when we (I) recognize this, difficulties can become opportunities in the midst.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

Sometimes the Truth is Hard to Swallow

You are Beautiful.You are Accepted. You are Loved. Love, God

I opened the refrigerator to discover the unthinkable–Daughter #3  drank the remaining orange juice.

I saved just enough for me. How dare she? I know it was her because she left her empty carton on the counter, and well, Hubs would have discarded the evidence.

This is ground for termination in my household. How in the world will I swallow my vitamin now?

It is huge; horse-pill status.

Well, it feels like it. Probably twice the size of ibuprofen.

Even with OJ, it still takes a good five attempts to swallow it down.  Even when I place it far back in my mouth, it makes its way back onto the front of my tongue.

I attempt again.  And again.

Panic sets in.  I just may choke.

Does anyone know the heimlich? Anyone?

So my daughter, who thinks I tend to be entirely too dramatic, says, “Mom you swallow pieces of food larger than that pill.”

Maybe. But does she realize how many times I chew oatmeal before it finally goes down?

Desperate though for my Vitamin B, I take the risk…

And… I am alive to talk about it. Took about ten attempts. The coating pretty much dissolved completely.

It tasted quite bitter.

Sometimes good things are hard to swallow.

One day, standing in front of the mirror, getting ready for the day, God spoke to me. Actually, it was more like through me:

“You are Beautiful.”

“You are Accepted.”

“You are Loved.”

I have shared this before. But, sometimes we need to regurgitate the truth before we entirely believe it.

Before it is swallowed deep, deep within.

Just so you know, these words are not just for me.

If you are feeling unattractive, rejected, unloved…

By all means, spit it out.

Don’t swallow these lies any longer.

Warning, Steep Curves Ahead

 

singlesoulinitiative.comIt was the time-frame of in between—not yet cancer diagnosis, not quite well. This is where the journey begins.

It began with an itch in my soul to document my moments into some type of order. Since I am not a linear thinker, this alone can be overwhelming.

This first segment was from November 1, 2015–one day before Hubby was officially diagnosed.


Oh, how I hate hills. Not the rolling ones on the landscape that display beauty with its multiple dimensions of imagery, but the kind I encounter while running. If I happen upon one, I am like the little engine that couldn’t.

With the mere suggestion of difficulty, the lower extremities go into distress, and either respond with a stall in stride, or engage in traitor status by turning around and heading back the way they came.

So, wouldn’t it be just like God to give me a glimpse into my immediate future with an obscure picture of a road sign with a phrase awakening me from a nap saying,

“Steep curves ahead.”

Is this a warning signal in advance because He knows who I am, and how I would rather not deal with difficulty by avoiding the path directly in front of me?

Avoid feelings with smiles; this is my life motto.

Overwhelmed, I create an aura of appearing underwhelmed to crisis.

Still, this will not be something I can avoid.

I am not sure I can handle the truth of the situation tomorrow. I am overwhelmed by the idea of him being ill. What if I can’t handle it? What if my stability is not as stable as I appear?

What is my breaking point? I don’t even like to cast a tear in a movie theatre, let alone the possibility of tears falling for a legitimate reason as this.

What if I disappoint him by not being attentive enough to his care, by being fixated on the crisis from my vantage point?

I think I can, I think I can I think I can…

It’s like He is saying, “We’ve got this, Josie.”

Whatever the crisis, God is in control.  Always. The same God who Created, is the same God who can cure.

He is also the same God who calms the calamity inside with His calming Presence.

God, when I am no longer capable and can’t do this, I know You can.

You can heal hurts. You can heal hurting hearts.

You can comfort those who mourn.

You can comfort the basket case of emotions that surround sickness. You can even cure cancer.

Yes, you can.