Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Greatest of These...

On any given day what my spirit needs and longs for is subject to change. With a backward glance, each moment and season of my life is perfectly fitted into a glorious rainbow. The many colors of the spectrum can be separated into distinct characteristics. My needs weaved together in a patterned tapestry of magnificent beauty.

I call to mind my need for love in the many shades of RED.  
The freshness of ORANGE has me bathed in goodness.  
Peace and acceptance blend together in the hues of YELLOW and GREEN.  
The effervescent tints of BLUE appear to quench my thirst to trust.   
And the greatest of these colors, VIOLET breaks through to become a Beacon of Hope.

How vividly I recall the day I removed Violet from my Grandmother's Rainbow.

She was sick with a heart condition that would eventually take her life.  Each doctor indicating, “it was only a matter of time”.  But still Nan continued to live with the hope of getting better.  “What do you think the doctors will try next?”  “When will I begin to feel better?”  So many questions asked waiting only for a hopeful response.

I did not know the magnitude of her yearning or understand the spirits need for hope.  I saw only the physical illness and breaking down of her body.  “Nanny, you should prepare yourself.” “Rest and find comfort in your faith.”  But still she pressed me for words of hope.  Words I could have simply spoken, words which would have lifted her weary soul.  Instead in a declaration I dare say still haunts me, I replied, “There is nothing.”  Sending the message to my Nan, “There is no Hope.”  Her eyes grew heavy and what little color remained in her cheeks seemed to fade.  Sadness I will never forget.

I have learned from this and many of my mistakes.  That is the beauty of every tomorrow.  But for today, like so many years ago for my Nan, my greatest need is Hope.  Hope for a cure, hope for remission, hope for new medicine, hope for independence, hope in hope itself.  And I know my Nan is with me when I ask, “What do you think the doctors will try next?”  “When will I begin to feel better?”  So many questions asked waiting only for a hopeful response. 


Monday, October 24, 2016

Ringing Phone

The humming from my cell phone startles me.  The doctor’s name clearly displayed, takes away any of the mystery found in a ringing phone.  I pause and take a deep breath, then release the extra air caught in my lungs before pressing the answer button.  Days have slowly moved to weeks then crawled to months of waiting for this very call.

I want to answer with a cheerful greeting, “Good evening Dr. K and thank you for calling”.   I want my voice to conceal the angst I am feeling in the pit of my stomach.   There is a sour taste of bile in my mouth now overshadowing the seasonal pumpkin latte I was enjoying.

My dreams have been invaded with the waiting of this call.  Some nights offering me comfort as the conversation moves us to a new treatment option for a cure.  Other nights, which are more frequent, I wake in a cold sweat learning the fate of my remaining life.  Upon lying down each night, I am at the mercy of my imagination to set the stage for my dreaming.

I have yet to press the green button to accept the incoming call.  I lack the courage to receive what waits being heard.  My energy drained and spirit defeated before even hearing her voice.  The ringing has stopped causing my heartbeat to be the only vibration left.  

With the phone now silent a blinking light suddenly appears indicating a message has been left for my hearing.  I wonder only in that moment what the scenario of this evenings dream will be?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Eye Has Not Seen

When he brought over all the paraphernalia, I didn’t know whether to be really angry or really sad.  My father-in-law meant well, thinking only about my well being.  I would have none of that “stuff” in the house.  It was banished to the garage in that “out of sight, out of mind” place.  Really, did he think these things were essential and that someday I would need them?  Did he see something miraculous and healing that I just wasn’t seeing? 
All the anger I felt came from my pride and all the sadness from my fear.

Pride has a way of distorting your vision.  The idea that we can control our destiny and plan our fate is an arrogant notion.  I have spent the better part of my prayer life “Giving it to God” & “Letting Go”.  But yet, I felt I had some authority and command over my ability to walk without the use of any aids (which were now piling high).  I saw each of these things as a spotlight telling the world that I had a “problem”.  It took away my ability to fake my symptoms and be normal.  I could no longer pick and choose who knew that something “was not right with this lady”.  Damn, that cane and walker! 
Pride and Vanity blinded me from what really needed to be seen.

Worse than pride, was the feeling of sadness.  By the action of my father-in-law bringing these “gifts” to me, he was accepting a fate I was yet to embrace.   He was planning for a future I could not see for myself.  Every glance at the wheelchair and scooter, made my heart sink deeper into my chest.
That was my sorrow twisting the reality of what was before me.

And then the AMEN moment came.   I needed the wheelchair to take me a very long distance.  Cursing and swearing under my breath, embarrassed and hating every moment of this spectacle. I arrived at the place I needed to be with the help of the damn wheelchair!   But leaving would be a different story …

I felt the urge to walk, needing to stretch my legs.  Feeling strong I began the long walk back to the car – holding on and pushing the wheelchair.  With each step forward, my vision seemed less narrow and more focused.   I was on the “Road to Emmaus” and could now clearly see the space between me and my appointed destination, accomplished only with a walking aid.  I grabbed the handles a little tighter and seemed to walk faster.  Stronger with each step – I arrived but forever changed. Gone from view was seeing my disabilities and limitations magnified by my need for these aids.  With a new set of eyes, I saw what I could accomplish and the strength I gained leaning on that which I had cursed.  

With the help of my trusty cane and chariot (walker) - I do not have to stumble and fear falling.  The wheelchair will bring me to places I have yet to travel and the scooter will allow me to get there in great style!  Gone was my pride, gone was my sadness – replaced with new possibilities found in these walking aids, which were proving to be quite miraculous!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Lesser of Two Evils

When my son was growing up he delighted in a game I liked to call - The lesser of Two Evils.  “Would you rather be a passenger in an airplane about to crash or in a car driving off a bridge?” Would you rather be shot in the back or with an arrow through the heart?” “Would you rather be held down in the deep end of the pool or stranded in the middle of the ocean with sharks.” He could and would continue for hours!

My daughters would simply disregard his annoying and menacing questions choosing instead to shake their heads and ignore him (the price for not having a brother to share in the fun).  Ken played along, but after a while begged for mercy from his disturbing imagination.  I often found myself taking a few calculated minutes of thought, to pick the lesser of these evils.  Most times I cried out for him to stop, realizing this game was both ridiculous and quite alarming.

Was I raising a monster or an inquisitive child?  Looking back now, this little game would offer a valuable life lesson.  For our lives include choices of free will, journeys of our own making and paths laid out with little or no option.  Questions beginning “would you rather…” could help us through the many cross roads we stumble upon.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was a few summers past,  at our annual “family reunion”.   Standing in a circle with our feet in the sand at the shoreline – 3 cousins shared stories of those “struggles” in their lives.  Carol spoke first, “it is a form of leukemia that must be monitored.  So many blood tests and frightening symptoms come with this diagnosis but I am hopeful to remain in remission”.  Cousin Christine spoke next of the terrible day she heard the word cancer. “The doctors gave me little choice. What followed was the fear and uncertainty before and after undergoing a double mastectomy and the months of recover”.  My turn to share and out poured my story of Multiple Sclerosis, “The beginning days were very dark from not knowing and then the definitive MRI image sentencing me to a life with a chronic, debilitating disease”.  We stood together, listening attentively; understanding beyond the words spoken out loud.  There in the middle of this circle was “not two but three evils”.   

We finished sharing and looked out into the water.  Silence allowing us to go deeper into our own thoughts.  And then I asked, “Would you rather have a deadly blood disease or  cancerous cells growing in your breast or an illness attacking your immune system?"  This was no longer a game.  But in that moment, we laughed and came to understand that if we had to choose – we would keep our ‘evil” for it seemed the lesser.

There is a wonderful quote that comes to mind when I think back on what I learned within that circle….

If you lined up all the troubles in the world and threw them into the ocean –
you would go back in to get your own.

a special thanks to my cousins for being part of this story

The White Blouse

I have everything covered – prayers ✔, music ✔, handouts ✔  .  All I can think is, what an honor to be leading a group of my peers for a...