I am so not good at happy posts….

It is so much easier to write when I am sad or angry or frustrated than it is when I am happy. There is a corresponding preponderance of somewhat negative posts on here. I have found that I am also loath to write when I am emotionally exhausted from the ravages that chemo wreaks on our family. On the treatment days, all I manage are the bare necessities: getting to the cancer center, helping Adam with whatever he needs, feeding the children, and enforcing a very lax bedtime routine. Other than that, I spend my time zoned out and wasted. Who needs mind altering substances? Watching someone I love go through physical and mental torture is quite enough to take me out of my head. But then I have a hangover. I spend the first few days after treatment trying to get back into my head. So no, those aren’t days where I’m likely to write positive posts either. But I’m tired of writing laments. I want to feel better. I want to…I don’t even know what I want. I feel like crying out much as my 10 year old has: “I want life to be normal again…I don’t want everything to be bad anymore!” I don’t even think that everything is bad…but I can’t quite work myself out of the funk today. I am sort of disappointed in myself and it is making it hard for me to greet anything with any reaction other than grief, fear or anger. I am so mad and sad and the end seems so far away. And my husband is getting weaker and more tired every time. And my kids are acting out and needy. And I have nothing left to give. I am so tired. And yet, tomorrow comes. Every tomorrow comes and they bring little comfort and less rest. And I know that my hope and comfort and rest are in Christ…I know it. I just wish they felt a little more hopeful, comfortable, and restful. An infinite God promises an infinite peace…but I live in a finite world that is not there yet. Which is why so many comfort themselves and others with the hope of peace in heaven. And I know that heaven will bring just that. But to get there, I have to leave here…and leave some behind. And somehow, that is no peace at all to me right now. GI Joe might be right: knowing may indeed be half the battle…but half a battle is no kind of victory. At least not tonight. Tonight is a night for mourning…again. So here’s to remembering that weeping endures through the night, but joy comes in the morning. (That’s a paraphrase of Psalm 30:5 which I actually know because of Anne of Green Gables….)

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What fresh hell is this?

I feel so tired and sad and abandoned. It’s a summer of watching the world pass me by, and while that is nice sometimes, right now I just feel left out. Today is the first day of the annual General Assembly of our denomination, and this is only the second one Adam has missed since 2003. The other one was the year we moved here to Alabama. We had plans to go to this one, to leave the kids with Adam’s mom some of the time so that I could go too, to see friends and visit family. Instead, Adam starts cycle 6 of chemo tomorrow. By Friday, he will be halfway done with chemo, but that isn’t as comforting as I hoped it would be. I wish I was in Greenville, South Carolina with friends. I wish we were doing anything but chemo this week. I wish I didn’t always feel this bone-deep sadness and the oft accompanying lethargy.

My kids are doing well this week, though. So that’s one less hellish thing. They aren’t playing particularly well together, so that is something to work toward, but they are enjoying some much needed downtime after last week’s adventures in mission tripping. And hey, I got the floor swept / swiffered and had the kids (not so very cooperatively) help with unloading and loading the dishwasher. It almost sounds like housework was taking place! (Confession: I had to get the dishes done so that I could make coffee…otherwise, it might all be sitting there still!) Because you know, COFFEE!

And now, as I contemplate saving the draft as opposed to posting this, I realize that it doesn’t feel so hellish anymore. I still wish our plans could have worked out – but not as much as I wish that Adam didn’t have to do chemo and that he’d never even thought the word cancer! But I am glad that we have each other and good friends who help us – many of whom probably wish they weren’t sitting through the long meetings that inevitably accompany General Assembly. And mostly, I have hope that this is but a season – maybe one that more closely resembles perdition than paradise – and it will pass. May it be so…soon.

Savage Beauty

It has been an inexpressibly difficult year. I have been trying to write a post for two weeks, but have been unable to distill my thoughts, emotions, fears, and hopes into words. But here goes. First, Adam is fine…or at least as fine as a person can be when they are in the midst of six months of chemotherapy. He hates it, he wants to quit, he knows he can’t, and did I mention that he hates it? It’s horrible. Awful. And that is just the beginning. Not for us: by God’s grace, treatment should be the end of cancer for us. I pray the doctors are correct and it is so. But it’s the beginning of what is weighing on me. And those other stories are not mine to tell. The personal catastrophe of a family member, the devastating loss of beloved friends, plus the everyday struggles of living in world that is showing itself particularly broken these days. So I think back to my story of brokenness as I try to cope with the brokenness around me. I’ve now had time to let the day cure in my memory and maybe my perspective will be fuller. I don’t know. I just know that I have to put words to the pain or it stays and festers.

I remember telling everyone sitting in the waiting room that it wasn’t good. The news, that is. Adam was still sedated, though he’d be coming out of the anesthesia for the next few hours. But I already knew that God’s answer to many of our most fervent prayers was “no.” No, this is not all you must endure. No, he will not escape chemo and radiation. No, he will not have a normally functioning digestive system. No, you don’t know if he is safe. I was so crushingly sad. And angry. And confused. And just…lost. A friend told me that it was okay to feel that way. He mentioned that in my place, his wife would be throwing chairs out of the window. I remember thinking of the word defenestration at the time, because I’m random like that. Can one defenestrate a chair? So I cried and I…I really don’t remember what else I did. The next few days telescope for me. They were interminable at the time, but in my memory, they pass in a blur. My fears were subsumed by the need to be there for Adam and to be okay for him. This was his medical tragedy, my relational one. All my problem solving skills were useless. All I could do was be there. And I never hated God. Why not? I keep thinking that such a reaction would be in keeping with my…me-ness. But while I know, and knew then, that He had the power to answer our prayers differently and He chose not to, my soul submitted to that without a fight. I don’t do anything without a fight. But where else is a lost person to go? If I turned from God, I would never not be lost again. So pain…yes. But, by God’s grace, I was never defeated. More than conquerors indeed.

I cannot tell anyone how to deal. The words of the songs “Be Still My Soul” and “Abide With Me, Fast Falls the Eventide” give me comfort, though they also make me sad. But that is me. God deals with us as and where we are, and we cannot assume that the things that mean so much to us will affect others in the same way. So I try to refrain from telling anyone what to do. But I pray that those who mourn will be comforted…. And I pray that God uses my words for good and not for evil; even savage truth is beautiful because it points us to Him.