New Way to be Human

Nov. 18 2004, my Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. I started this blog to chronicle her journey. July 19, 2005 she gave her life in the battle. This blog is my place to process through the journey I walked along with her, and now my journey through grief. It's also a place to discuss the effects cancer has on the lives it touches--survivors and caregivers alike. I'm a Navy wife, a Mom, and my mother's daughter now and forever.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Grandma is ok.

Andy's Grandma is ok. She's out of the hospital, and it was a hiatal hernia rather than the scarier options that we thought we were dealing with. She is feeling much better. I am grateful.

New Year

If you've read any of the last few blogs, you know that I'm not feeling particularly shiny or happy as of late. Not that I'm down and out. I just feel a little beat up is all, and I'm sure I'll bounce back shortly.

I've been thinking though about the New Year. In my gloom-glut mood, my thoughts revolved mainly around just longing for tomorrow to be over with. I want a new year... This one has frankly been terrible. I want a clean slate. I'm afraid of what will show up on said clean slate at times... because Lord knows I didn't expect the pile of crud on this year's. So... I'm cautiously excited about this new year concept.

On top of that, the mere thought of Andy coming home this year... in the beginning part rather than the end, is enough to make me smile. The idea of his return is becoming more real. It's an odd feeling to have moments of thinking, "Oh yeah! my husband really is real! And in a couple of months I'll remember what his face looks like and be able to touch him!"

So in general, I've been having some, "Light at the end of the tunnel" feelings. In fact, I wrote about that to Andy, and said,

"This morning, it feels like there's a light at the end of the tunnel... I'm just not sure what's on the other side of it. It's funny. They don't tell you that about the said proverbial tunnel. It's supposed to be joy and relief when you see that light and finally come to the other side. What they don't tell you is that it can be scary as hell to step into the light of day, look life square in the eye, and say, 'Ok. What next?'"

So I have these feelings of wanting to flush 2005 down the toilet and run headlong into 2006. With a healthy dose of anxiety mixed in there as well.

And then I talked to my dear friend Kasey tonight. And she made me rethink my whole approach. She is battling lung cancer herself, and she said that every morning that she wakes up beside her husband is like a Happy New Year. They don't need a Dec. 31.

I want to get there. To embracing each new day as a gift. I've gotten closer this year. My priorities are straighter than they've ever been before. But I want to execute the living of life a little better. I think of what Kasey said and part of me says, "But my husband is on the other side of the world." I have to remember that he is still WITH ME. And besides, waking up with Carolyn or Dad, or the even just the cat in my life... That is something. I shouldn't gloss over it. I shouldn't ignore it. I need to get back to my gratefulness.

So I do want to celebrate the dawn of 2006 on Sunday, but I also want to celebrate the dawn of day 2 of 2006, and day 3, and day 4.... I want to be cognizant of the fact that even though things hurt.... and even though sometimes I feel like a 2000 lb. lead weight trying to drag through the day that there are gifts to look at. There is work to do. There are folks to love.

Happy New Year, all. Every day.

Thursday, December 29, 2005



Andy's sister-in-law calls me today. Just chats in general for a while and then asks if I'd heard about Andy's Grandma--his Mom's Mom this time. No? Oh...

She's in the hospital. They called 911 last night and rushed her there because she was having chest pains.

This morning the thought was that it was simply angina. This afternoon it seemed there was more to it than that. Because she's in a podunk little town hospital they can't run tests until tomorrow. The possibilities today were heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or really bizarre indigestion. I'm hoping for the indigestion, but my sister-in-law feels that it's very unlikely.

I'm really praying this all... turns a corner, and Grandma W. is ok. Not only do I hate that Grandma is going through this, but I don't know if I can take anymore. This, by the way, is the third Thursday in a row that someone affiliated with our family has had a chest pain related incident. Three weeks ago it as Andy's grandpa. The day before his funeral--last Thursday, my sister-in-law's father had a heart attack as well, and now this.

On top of that, I called my own Gramma today and found that she wasn't doing well at all. There's nothing specific wrong with her, but she sounded worse than I've heard her in quite some time, and my aunt who is visiting was very worried.

I'm ready to put out an all points bulletin to all of my friends and family to beware.

And the truth is, I'm starting to feel rather pissed off about it all. I really am.

Not so much just because of what's happening in our family, but because of suffering and pain I see so many places right now. Hospice has been called in for several of my close friends on my lung cancer message board. I just keep reading of all of this sickness and pain and imminent death, and I look at what our family has been through this year: The loss of my Grandma W. in February, the loss of my mother, the loss of Grandpa Roseberry... it all just seems so unfair, and I want to shake life by the shoulders an demand an answer. I'm not afraid to be angry with God about things, but I don't want to be angry at him over this. It seems easier to just keep my anger aimed at a vague entity called, "Sucky parts of life."

I'm to the point of just waking up in the morning and saying, "What's next? Bring it on!" But I'm scared of what the answer will be.

I just don't want to do this anymore. I'm done. Enough is enough. This has got to end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I'm so tired. I'm tired in ways I don't remember being tired before.

I can't put together anything cohesive about the last week and a half except that essentially it's just sucked. Today was an ok day. Yesterday was an ok day. But things here have been hard.

The doctor's were right and Grandpa is gone. Andy couldn't come home. There were multiple crises and fiascos. I've covered another 1200 miles on the road with my daughter (luckily I didn't have to drive for most of it--God bless my sister-in-law and her family). And we were gone and in limbo for over a week. I missed being with my Dad when I felt we really needed to be together.

It's my first Chistmas without Mom or Gramma. My husband is on the other side of the world. Life just seems so.... wrong right now.

The light in the darkness that we celebrate at Christmas is still shining. Little slivers of light can't help but shimmer through to me. They buoy me and give me hope.

But even so, I am weary.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Don't Know what to Feel

We leave tomorrow AM for Kansas to go be with Grandpa R. I've made the Red Cross call to my husband. The doctor's report attached to his red cross message reads that Grandpa is in end stages of heart failure, has days to weeks left, and that 'the servicemember's presence is requested.' Obviously things aren't looking good.

I don't know how to feel about any of it. I feel a deep sense of weariness, and a dread at what has become a familiar routine--find out that a family member is gravely ill, stop all normal life, travel many miles, say good-bye. This is the third time in one year.

I'm trying to remember that this isn't about me. This is about Grandpa, and more about Andy's family than me. And yet, this is a loss of my own as well. Grandpa Roseberry has been one of my favorite people since he informed the family that "He had TWO sons getting married in June and he would be attending BOTH weddings" after we somewhat unexpectedly moved up our wedding to two weeks after Andy's brothers to allow for us to have extra time before our first military-induced separation. He is a special man. I don't want to lose him either.

I also feel so helpless and sad and defeated for my husband, who feels so helpless and sad and defeated at all that is going on so far away. This is the first time in all of the mess we've been through that I've heard traces of low-depression in his voice. How he manages to continue doing his job is beyond me. I worry for him. And it is SO HARD to support him in the way he needs to be supported by his wife with him an entire world away, and with only 30 minute phone conversations when he is able to break away. What do you say?

On top of that, I feel anxious about what happens once the Red Cross message reaches him. Will they send him home? Can we afford a last-minute plane ticket from Anywhere, Middle East to Podunk Kansas Airport? Who will pick him up?

I feel guilty because I've wanted to see him so badly. Sometimes I've wished for him to just come home. What if... in some cosmic cruel joke this is the way the universe is answering that wish. I want to see him, but NOT UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.

And I do feel angry that the hits just keep coming. We've had so many losses this year. So many losses since we've gotten married. So much upheaval and change and adjustment. I know life isn't fair, I know we have much to be grateful for, but isn't enough enough?

So much to think about, so much to do. I got a good bit of packing done tonight, but there will be a lot of last minute to do. And then there's putting my poor baby through another terribly long drive to thrust her into a situation full of so much emotion and stress that she won't understand. My little girl has seen more suffering, and sadness in her 9 months of life than many people see in one decade. I know I'm supposed to assume that she's 'oblivious' but I also know that it's hard on her.

And... It seems like... more and more of her past... her roots... the people who made us, who impacted us... are slipping away. And that seems so unfair. She lost her Daddy's Daddy and both of my grandparents before she was born, then my Mom, and now... well... I'm still praying for a miracle, I guess. I can't go too far into that statement.

So... Things are hard here. And I guess I just needed to write it out.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

IStop World, I Want to Get Off

Ok... So....

Little Pity Party. Little Stress Vent. Here I go.

When do we get a break? Since we've been married it's been one major life transition after another, one crisis after another, one death after another, one difficulty after another.

Now, Andy's Grandfather has had a heart attack. Things sound pretty dire. He has two arteries that are 75% blocked. He was advised that surgery would be very risky because of his age and the risk of a stroke. They have opted not to do surgery.

He is on Lasix to combat congestive heart failure, blood thinners, to prevent clots resulting in another attack or stroke, and morphine to relax his heart and ease his pain.

When I spoke with Gramma and her daughter on the phone and they said, "they're keeping him comfortable" the worst thoughts leapt into my mind. I've heard those words before.

I'm grateful that there is a chance that he will recover somewhat and be able to go home to hopefully be the feisty grandpa that we all love...

But this all depends on his progress in the next day or two.

As it stands, I am gathering information to make the official red cross call to my husband, should it be needed.

I am thinking about what I will need to do to get C and I to Kansas quickly should it be needed.

And I am, quite frankly, feeling pretty weary, and pretty pissed off.

If I do have to make a Red Cross call, it will be my third since the beginning of work-ups and deployment. The third for our first deployment.

If the worst happens, it will be the 4th time the worst has happened to a close family member of mine or DH's in the 2 years that we've been married.

DH feels so helpless being so far away with no way to get here... or to be connected to what is happening.

I feel so helpless knowing he hurts so.

I feel so sad for Grandpa.

I am trying to be hopeful, but... It's hard.

I am trying to be prepared, but don't want to douse my hope.

I am angry that we never get a breather.

I am trying to be mindful of all that we have to be grateful for.

I am trying to ask, "Why not us?" instead of, "Why us?"

I am trying not to be afraid of the question, "When will it stop being people close enough to us that it bores a hole into our souls, but not into our immediate family unit... and will it soon start being us?" Perhaps that seems a leap, but as I have said before... In my attempts to remember, "It could be worse..." all I can think of is, "What if it worse happens?"

We don't just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. We're seriously dodging shoes left and right, it seems.

But... Well. We still have a lot.

And when I put it in the terms of, "Gee, one heck of a lot has happened in our two years of marriage," I'm just glad God saw fit to put us together as helpmates one to the other, before we took on these trials. We could have both been going int alone, but we're doing it hand in hand (even from a world apart) and as a family. And THAT is somtehing I am most grateful for.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Memory

I've had Gordon Lightfoot tunes in my head for the last few days (I know I am of the wrong generation to love Gordon Lightfoot, but love him I do)... Especially, "Song for a Winter's Night" (which I just rediscovered as his), and "Ribbon of Darkness."

As I was sitting here humming it, I closed my eyes and remembered a night about a week and a half before Mom died. My Aunt Kathy was visiting, and my Uncle Ken and his wife, Ellen, were with us as well. I had wrangled up a guitar because Mom wanted to hear Ken sing again... Kind of a "Like old times" moment. We had no idea just HOW limited time was then--We were still hoping for approval for a clinical trial at that point... But we got together and we sang.

Ken played "Ribbon of Darkness" and Mom told him she thought that was just about her favorite song to hear him play. She smiled that night and was more peaceful and happy that she had been in weeks... It was just a simple night of being together... and singing (some of us off key).

I think we all looked around at one time or another and wondered if this would be Mom's last chance to sing with us all...

But mostly we just sang and stayed in the words of the songs, and the healing comfort of the music.

And it was good.

Remembering a GOOD thing about those last few days (which seem to be playing and replaying in my mind nearly constantly lately) is a comfort tonight. And I am grateful. That's a memory that I will treasure forever.

**edited to say that it might have actually been, "Did She Mention My Name" that Mom said was her favorite to hear Ken play... Regardless it was a Lightfoot song. No one does Gordon Lightfoot songs like Uncle Ken.... I still can't hear them without hearing his voice singing the words instead :)**

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Got Tagged!!!!

I am SOOO excited! I've never been tagged to do a meme before. And today Amanda tagged me! I am ridiculously excited about this. Ok. So here goes:

Seven Things Tag

Seven Things to do Before I Die:

1. Write a book
2. Get my Master's Degree
3. Go with Andy to some of the places he's been in port while being a sailing sailor (Hmmm... Rome maybe?)
4. Work successfully in a job that feels like it fits me and I fit it
5. Tip a waitress $100
6. Finish The Brothers Karamazov (I really like, it... but given I've been reading it for 2 years now I really need to get going in order to finish this goal.
7. Touch a dolphin

Seven Things I cannot Do:

1. Speak a foreign language (though... I have a rudimentarly knowledge of sign language)
2. Sew
3. Ski
4. Wiggle my ears
5. Play softball without wanting to be swallowed by a hole in the earth
6. Swim in the ocean without worrying about 'critters and itchums' (which is unfortunate because I LOVE the ocean)
7. Stop thinking... Ever...

Seven Things That Attract me to my Husband:

1. He knows how to sit and just be with me.... without an agenda but totally WITH me when I am happy or otherwise
2. His love of all things beautiful
3. The way the depth of his faith and thoughts will suprise me when I least expect it.
4. His dedication to perpetually 'wooing' me
5. The way he is with Carolyn
6. His willingness to cook and do dishes
7. He loves me... like no one else does.

Seven Things I say Most Often:

1. "No... We don't eat catfood!"
2. "Crup"
3. "Are you sure?"
4. "Oh myy..."
5. "Abba Du"
6. "A dink" (In answer to Dh's "Rink-a-dink-a-dink")
7. He/she needs a 'quit being dumb' card

Seven Books or Series I Love:

1. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Anne Brashares)
2. Madeleine L'Engle's Time Trilogy
3. The World of Pooh (Milne)
4. The Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning)
5. The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
6. A Ring of Endless Light (L'Engle again)
7. Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now? (Seuss)

Seven Movies I would watch over and over and over and...

1. The Princess Bride
2. White Christmas (even if it's not Christmastime)
3. Shawshank Redemption
4. The Shadowlands
5. When Harry Met Sally
6. Return to Me
7. Anne of Green Gables

Seven Bloggers to Tag:

Becca, Lauren, Karen, Sarah, Tracie, Red, and um... somebody else!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Please Don't Lecture Me

Please Don't Lecture Me when I tell you that I hate my life sometimes right now.

Please don't lecture me when I tell you that I wish I could fast-forward through the holidays and my birthday... Even though it is Carolyn's first Christmas.

Please don't tell me to just 'get over it' already in regards to my grief.

Please don't tell me that so many other people have it worse and I should be grateful for what I have.

Please don't tell me to count my blessings instead of my losses.

Please don't tell me how to feel, how to grieve, or how to deal with my husband being gone for six months.

Please let me feel my feelings.

Please don't expect me to spill my guts to you because this once you asked, "How are you?"

Conversely, please don't recoil in horror if I DO tell you how I am really feeling.

Please don't judge me because I feel angry at people that I love right now. My anger is part of my grief too.

Please DO tell me that I'm doing ok, and that I did ok prior to my loss, during, and immediately after.

Please DO know that I am going on, that I am trying, that I do count my blessings, that I soak in every moment of joy that I have with those that I love, and every moment that is less than joyful as well. Please know that I am doing my best, trying, putting one foot in front of the other--and that is an accomplishment that *I* am proud of.

Please just let me feel, let me be, let me express what I am where I am how I am and when I am ready.

One of the reasons I feel so isolated at present is that I truly don't expect others to know to do these things. And those that would, I don't feel need the weight of my burdens on top of their own. Maybe I'm underestimating people. Maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm just being prickly. I'm afraid of hearing others say the same things the tapes in my head torment me with. The things that bring on guilt and make me chafe and feel wrong in my feelings.

But it is partly the fear of these things that keeps me clammed up. I miss my safe places. Seems that most of them are on other continents, dead, or disappointing.

How lonely deeply, dazzlingly, dark emotions can be!