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.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I HATE cancer...

It's a very bad day.

I called my dear friend, Jennie, today. I've been very worried about her and her husband. Bob has pancreatic cancer. When we left Washington, he was doing remarkably well. Still working. Still strong. Still just being Bob.

Something in the last few weeks has just gone drastically wrong, and now he can't keep down food... Things sounded terribly bad when I talked to Jenn, today, and Jennie sounded beside herself with the loneliness and pressure of it all.

And here I am in Illinois. It seems like I'm always in the wrong place. If only I could be there to fix them dinners, or to just go sit with Bob, or to go over and hug Jennie on the bad days.

I keep thinking of the photos of Carolyn that we have... Pictures of her with Mom, Pictures of her with Grandpa Roseberry. We have pictures of her with Bob too.... I am really hoping that Bob will rally--for his sake, and Jennie's of course, but I keep thinking that I don't want any more pictures in our collection of those photos where Carolyn is being held by people that we love who can't be with us anymore.

Then I logged onto the LC Message board, and we lost another of our most vibrant, beautiful, amazingly strong members... And the wife of one of our caregiver members as well. I keep going back to read Leslie's posts. She was the champion of the 'survivor' forum. She was always posting little things about survivorship--about each day being a victory. And she always celebrated other people's anniversaries in the fight against their cancer. And now she's gone.

I am just so ANGRY at what this does to people. I'm so ANGRY at the every day worry and fear that I have now--that so many people have. I'm so angry at the pain and devestation and depression that my friends and family who've been diagnosed have had to endure. I'm so angry about the holes in the lives of caregivers who've lost the one they cared for. I'm so angry that my Mom isn't here to see Carolyn trying to walk, and to talk to on the nights that I miss Andy, and to complain about how lousy the last season of West Wing has been. I'm SOOO ANGRY.

I wish I knew how to channel that anger. I wish I knew of a good place to focus it. I wish I could focus it directly AT CANCER and that somehow could help cause it to be eradicated.

And aside from the anger, tonight I feel a profound sense of homesickness. I'm homesick for the place beyond this life--the place with no cancer, or sickness, or pain, or tears. Larry Crabb says we have to feel the full disappointment of this life to be fully invested in the hope that comes in the next place. I am certainly feeling it. We were made to be eternal... This transient stuff sucks.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Some News and a "For Amanda"

First of all, I was given an assignment by
  • Amanda
  • ... and I wanted to share that it was completed... just pre-birthday.

    This past weekend, a friend and I went to see Brennan Manning, one of my VERY FAVORITE author's, speak in a town near here. I've ALWAYS wanted to hear Brennan speak and I was so excited to see that he would be within an hour's drive. My Dad and his friend were kind enough to watch the kidlet, and my friend's husband took her kiddos, and we dashed off for the evening. And it was WONDERFUL. If you ever need to know that God really likes you, and Brennan is speaking near you--GO SEE HIM (or else pick up one of his books!). He was as quiet and unassuming in appearance as I imagined, but much more forceful and dramatic of a speaker than I thought he would be. I came away feeling like I could be ok with people again... And over all just feeling refreshed, and happy, and challenged.

    I also had a Mom moment--singing "Amazing Grace" at the end (which at first I thought was going to be kind of cheesy), I couldn't hold back the tears. I sang that to Mom quite a bit her last few days and all I could see was that room... Then thinking about it, I realized that Mom never thought she was 'good enough' for God. I would share what I believe about grace with her and she would shake her head and say, "I still don't think I'll make the cut.' Before she died, she was at peace with God stuff, but I still don't think she felt she was 'good enough.' The last few days I've just smiled knowing that now she knows fully... She is in the fullness of glory with Abba... and she knows that she never needed to be 'good enough.' It was enough to simply be His.

    I've also gotten out a bit this week for fun things. So... Do I pass, Amanda? ;)

    Now for the news:

    The time is approaching when my husband will be home. I still speak in terms of month(s) plurral. But things are closing in. And best of all, as of today, we officially have a house to move into when we head back to the Northwest! I haven't missed base a bit, but I miss having 'our home.' I miss our friends. I miss my mountains, and my ocean... And I miss my life being MY LIFE.

    The light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter bit by bit by bit.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Happy Birthday...

    I'm 25 today. I thought... that the birthday deal wouldn't be all that bad regarding the Mom-factor. It's not like Christmas and all sentimentalized. I'm a big girl now so birthdays aren't that big of a deal.

    But I missed Mom in all of these little ways... Dad signed her name to my birthday card... but there was this hole nonetheless. I tried not to think about her making me a favorite meal, or the kind of gift she would give me... But other things kept cropping up. Things she said that I can't remember anymore. Looks she gave people.

    and to my suprise, I also very much missed Grandma. Grandma always, always, ALWAYS called for my birthday. I just kept wanting the phone to ring with her at the other end.

    Last night I put together a photo album of pictures of Mom. When Dad got home I showed him. He cried, and left the house. It's the first time I've seen him cry in a long time. Maybe since right after Mom died. I felt just terrible.... I didn't want to hurt him. It was a very bad thing.

    Also, I never thought about the fact that birthdays are almost as much about the Mom. All I did was get born that day 25 years ago. It was Mom who suffered through 32 hours of labor to get me here. I just wish I could share this day with her.

    Mom's gone. Grandma's gone. And husband is out. I did try to have a good day anyway... I really did. And I did smile some. And laugh some. And I thoroughly enjoyed the peanut butter pie I was given today (just one piece, I promise).

    But for parts of today, I couldn't help but think, "Happy frickin birthday."

    That said, I'm 25. And this last year has done more to make me than any other before. Mom isn't here, Gram isn't here... and a list of so many other aren't either. And I want to live in a way to honor them all for every year that I'm able to have a birthday.

    I'm trying, guys.

    I Don't Know What To Do Here...

    I'm not sure what to do with this blog now. I started it to share my journey in dealing with my Mom's cancer. Mom is gone now. So I've sort of used it as a place to process through my thoughts about grief.

    But I've found all these wonderful people in this community that isn't afraid to say real things about cancer...

    I don't want this to NOT be a place to discuss cancer. I still have a good bit to say about it... but at the end of the day the thoughts that yell to be written are more about grief.

    Because of these friends I've found, and the original intent of the sight, I don't want to discourage anybody. I feel like when I post I'm just a dreary reminder that sometimes people die from cancer. I want to be an encouragement. I want to give people hope.

    I've thought of splitting into another blog--to make this the 'cancer place' and someplace else a 'grief place.' But that doesn't feel right either.

    So I don't know what to do.

    For now I'm still here... and I'll just post what comes.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Taking Down the Tree

    I took down the Christmas Tree today, and I can't entirely explain why.... but it felt like I was burying Mom all over again. I guess it was maybe because it was all of HER ornaments I was taking down. And each one I touched brought back a memory--of Christmases when I was little, or putting up the tree with Mom (that was always OUR thing to do)... There was the ornament with the photo of the house that Mom grew up in that she cherished, and the crystal egg ornament that she loved so much... all the little wooden ornaments that we've hung since I was little.... Each one I took down, and put away and couldn't look at again. And it just made me feel like I was losing her all over.

    It's been a tough couple of days inside my head. Outside of it, I'm doing very well, but inside different things are hitting pretty hard. Last night, I lay in bed for a long time thinking about Mom's last few days--little things about that time... Moments that she looked at Daddy and I could tell he was still her sweetheart, and moments when she called me by my aunt's name instead of mine... I thought of all the music I put in and listened to with her after the confusion had taken over and she wasn't able to verbalize anymore. I was just so hoping that the HER part of her still heard. I thought of her hands... and holding them, and the way her fingernails always looked... Just so many difficult things to remember. And they all sting just as much.

    The thing is... I DO think I'm 'doing better.' But I don't really 'feel' better. All the grief I feel is every bit as bitter and intense as it was in the beginning and as it began to sink in. It's just... I don't live in it as constantly. It's always there... but I'm not always looking at it.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    The Boards

    For some time, I have been praying so hard for two of my favorite people over at the LCSC boards. (I will call them B and P) And B died yesterday. B was a valiant warrior... all the way through his struggle with cancer. He fought for every last moment of life with his family, every last drop of life, every last dripping of grace in this world. The love that P and B shared was amazing... simply amazing. It was (and indeed is) so strong that the words P types on the screen feel tangibly soaked with their love for one another. I simply ache for my friend P.

    Another LCSC friend of mine, has found herself standing in shoes that are all too familiar to me. She has just had a little baby girl... and her Mom has just been referred to hospice.

    The hurting and the ache that this disease causes to so many people is just too much to bear some days. I hate it. I wish by simply setting my being against it, I could somehow help to eradicate it...

    For right now, I just hurt with and for my friends.

    Emotions Epiphany

    I was chatting with my friend, Ronjour, the other night... and talking about one of my latest discoveries about grief (might blog about that later). But he said something that really struck me.
    "...but if we saw how emotions come from God, maybe we'd reach a depth in our
    emotions, and maybe more so, we'd reach a depth in our intamacy with God."

    It kind of smacked me between the eyes a bit. I blinked and said.... "Hmmm... I think there's something to that."

    You see, despite the fact that I can write about my emotions here, I'm really pretty sucky at actually letting myself feel them. I cerebralize most things. The beginning of the feeling comes--enough so that I can verbalize it and think about it... but the experience of that feeling may never fully happen.

    I think one of the things about dealing with cancer, and dealing with grief is that there are so many huge things to feel your way through. There are emotions that don't make any sense... there are emotions that make you feel guilty and terrible. There are emotions that are so big that it's scary to even start down the road of feeling them for the fear that you will be swept away in torrents.

    I somehow feel, even though I know it to be a lie, that I have to be doing 'ok' for myself to be acceptable to anyone... God, friends, family. In addition, I fear not being able to fully function if I give myself over to these feelings that are so powerful. I'm doing a lot of juggling at present... And I'm afraid I'll drop all my balls if I pause for emoting purposes. And admittedly, I'm unsure of what may be on the other side. I'm afraid I'll get stuck.

    Anyway, Ronjour's wisdom makes me reconsider my putting off and/or stuffing my emotions.
    I realize that I am cheating myself by not allowing myself to be fully in my them. I'm cheating myself from really stepping into the fullness of me, and the fullness of trusting God, and I am cheating myself from more deeply coming to know the maker of my feelings, the author of the very concept of emotions--who is Himself no stranger to immense highs, and deep lows.

    That being the case, I think I might be a while in really learning how to give myself over to what I'm feeling in full abandon and trust that I will come through on the other side unscathed--and trust as well that those who may witness this will not feel I have burdened them. I'm still looking for my safe place. I'm hoping that one of those safe places will come back on a boat this spring. I'm learning though. I'm getting there. Epiphanies are good. But I'm still on the journey.