It is difficult to describe the general malaise that I am experiencing (which is not much when I compare it to Sabine’s situation). The only thing I can connect this feeling to is that of a “flight-fight” response when all of our blood goes to our major muscles in anticipation of a threatening event and there is nothing left over for other body functions – like thinking, planning, problem-solving, and sorting the mail.
I feel drained and I hopefully, expectantly look forward to some kind of recovery. At the present time, physical exercise is tedious, I can’t get excited about sword practice and the thought of leading a parish and responding to its pastoral needs is emotionally crippling.
Sounds like a depression, yet I am sleeping and eating (perhaps too much) and I still can get some things done around the house and make our many and varied healthcare appointments.
I feel like we exist in a “never-never” land of never knowing. I know (and can make fun of) my control needs but this is truly an “out of control” situation for both of us. This came on us and at us during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays like a freight train.
I think I am working to preserve my strength for the battle that I know looms ahead of us. I don’t want anything to divert or drain off my ability to fight this thing with Sabine. What exists beyond the immediate presence is a place I don’t even want to think of. And when I do it is frightening and paralyzing. I simply cannot imagine my life without her!
I know that I have missed a couple of my grandkid's birthdays… I can’t answer or return phone calls because I just get choked up. I feel bad about that -- but this is “circling the wagons” time and I feel I must focus on Sabine and the situation in front of us. I wish I could say that I know what needs to be done, but I don’t – not now. Maybe next week or next month, but maybe never, as this disease can pop up in strange places at inopportune times.
This coming week is round two in the cancer fight. We know now what we are fighting and I try to scan the treatment field by participating in a multiple myeloma list-serve on the internet. It is probably more overwhelming than comforting right now. We are looking forward to attending a local myeloma support group on the 19th.
Through her fatigue and anxiety Sabine continues to plod on. I can’t imagine what it is like to have to be hooked up to a machine three times a week in order to live. And while she struggles with the kidney failure she also contends with chemotherapy and the unanswered questions about where we are now and what’s next? She lives each day with little time bombs ticking in her body.
And then there is, of course, THE question that has not yet been uttered: “How long does she have to live?” At the same time I know that none of us are guaranteed any time except that of this moment. So, “How do we live each moment we are given?” All of a sudden, that becomes the REAL question of which we all know the answer! We walk in love...
I quipped the other day, “Well, if we had to have cancer, this is probably as good a time as any, the kids are grown up, we are retired from wonderful and satisfying careers in policing, and we have completed all the international travel we wanted to do. I guess our life’s direction now is to fight this cancer!”
So we talk, we re-frame our situation, we remember all the blessings of this life, we laugh, and we cry – but most of all we go on!
And yes, God is with us every moment – the “breath inside the breath.”
I took comfort this morning in this prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.