Friday, November 19, 2010

Somebody get me a ruler.

I have a strong affinity for straight lines. There are no surprises with a good straight line, no curves to worry about or corners to take, no obstructions and no change in direction. I love rows and columns, clean working surfaces, and fine point pens. I tend to fall into leadership roles naturally, I enjoy making firm decisions and I love making a seamless leap from point A to point B. I excel in a straight line environment, my only problem is that cancer is no longer a straight line.

Lately I've been feeling a familiar type of anxiety rising, the kind of anxiety I get when Dave drops me off at the pumpkin patch and says, “okay, pick one”, or worse when he says, “you pick the tree, and I'll cut it down”. You see “options” are not a friend to a straight liner like me. Options trigger, what can only be described as an OCD reaction, sending me into tailspins trying to find the perfect “one”. The problem with having no cure for cancer, other than the obvious, is that everything and anything could be a cure for cancer. I feel as though I've fallen down the rabbit hole and now I'm faced with a wonderland buffet of options: drink this ionized water out of the copper cup, eat this mushroom while standing on one foot, take this drug, don't take that drug, don't eat sugar, only eat sugar...etc. etc. The options are endless and nauseating and I'm exhausted. There is a fine line between being informed and being completely overwhelmed and I am walking the tight rope.

This past week and a half has been extremely difficult. The hormone therapy kicked in last week and the side effects have been trying. I'm nauseous, hot and cold, irritable and a crybaby but most distressing is my aching back. I have this unrelenting, intense pain in my lower back that makes it incredibly difficult to pretend like everything is okay. I'm an emotional wreck because obviously my body is screaming at me and I am choosing to ignore it, and that does not sit well with me. I'm not confident in this drug treatment but I'm too scared not to take it. Seriously, is a straight line too much to ask for?

Last night I went out to the theatre with one of my closest friends. I keep this friend filed under divine because I'm pretty certain she's got some white wings tucked away, out of sight. At the end of what turned into a very emotional night she prayed with me. Together we prayed for clarity, for peace of mind and a straight line.

This morning, after I got Dave and Coady out the door to work and play, I lay a blanket on my newly heated (thank you Dave;) kitchen floor. I turned off the computer and the ringer on the phone and I lay down on my screaming back. I closed my eyes and I listened. It's amazing what you hear if you just take the time to listen. It's incredible to hear the sound that hope makes as it uncurls itself and reaches up, like a straight line extending to the sun.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pennies From Heaven

I distinctly remember the first time I saw her. It was early September, the beginning of grade ten. I was sitting with some friends, backs against the lockers in the hallway. I noticed her immediately as she walked towards us, and it shook me, because when I say noticed, I mean it was as though my soul recognized her. She had the most amazing smile, an undeniable sparkle in her eye, and a fiery spirit that made her glow. Her name was Katie and we became inseparable. She changed my character in profound ways, she showed me love, resilience and strength like no one in my life ever had before. She was my best friend, my kindred spirit and one of the greatest teachers of life that I would ever know. And she came and went too quickly.
On a fateful night in November 1998, Katie fell asleep behind the wheel of her car as she drove home from visiting family in Halifax. I remember dropping the phone and feeling the numbness spread through my body. But more incredibly, I remember the feeling of disbelief and gratitude I felt as my mom and I drove home from a friends house late that night. As I looked out my frosted window, into the peaceful black night, I watched the blanket of new fallen snow rise up to meet the stars. I closed my eyes and prayed for a sign. Let me know she's okay. Show me that she's okay. Show me that her spirit is whole and soaring. Show me. I remember opening my eyes, I remember the hair rising up on my arms. I remember the calm that entered my heart. I remember the way that the snow lit up and sparkled as though someone had captured the sun and let it almost escape. The brief shimmer that spread across the white blanket. The wave that said good-bye, I'm okay. It was Katie who taught me first, to watch for the signs. She's been winking at me ever since.
In the past month, I have received message after message commenting on my strength and my courage.
And while I accept these messages with an open heart and gratitude, I can only take so much credit because as a whole person, I am merely the sum of the beautiful people who have come into my life. And so I want to thank you.
I want to thank my beautiful family and my amazing friends for their love and unrelenting support. Thank you to the communities I have belonged to in the past who have joined hands and hearts and have caught my family, and continue to hold us tightly. Thank you to the teachers who have left your mark. Thank you for embracing my vulnerability and accepting my words. Thank you for your love and your belief in us as worthy.
My greatest fear, that comes with the cancer diagnosis is not of dying or of death, my fear is of leaving Dave and Coady in a life that is absent of me. However, the other night, as I took a moment to look around the room, a room that was so full of life and love it was palpable, I was filled with love, gratitude and a deep sense of knowing that everything will be okay. Dave and my little Coady would be guarded, and loved and adopted by this amazing community that we have surrounded ourselves with. What more could I possibly ask for? I am indeed a fortunate soul who will always have faith in the signs. Thanks Kate, I love you too.

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is – 'thank you' – that is enough.”
Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)