grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day TwentyTwo

on July 22, 2015

I was laying in bed the other morning, trying to get my mind around the fact that it has really and truly been FIVE YEARS since they found the cancer that changed everything.

Cancer changed everything.
My day-to-day.
My vocabulary.
My body.
My family.
My emotions.
My address.
My faith.
My friendships.
My views.
My dreams.
My goals.
My marriage.

Big anniversaries are weird like that, aren’t they?
When you’re in the middle of time passing, it feels a bit like walking in setting concrete.
But when you find yourself standing on the eve of a Big Anniversary, you can’t fathom how the days and years could have ended up in the rear view mirror so darn quickly.

Because things change.
All those things I listed – and then some.
They change.

Whether it’s an anniversary of a gain or one of a loss, the Change part of the equation is a given.
Especially when Big Things happen.
And we change with them.

For better or for worse?
That depends on whether we embrace the changes or run from them.
It’s both great AND terrible that we get to choose.
I pray we have the courage to choose well.


August 13, 2013 (from my CaringBridge journal)
These days and weeks of ‘anniversaries’ ~ from the finding of cancer on July 23, 2010 to the start of chemo on November 8, 2010, and all the accompanying testing, surgeries, office visits, etc, in between ~ are proving to be quite emotionally unpredictable and roller-coaster-y for me.

Even three years later.

I guess grieving is like this.

But, boy, is it uncomfortable.

And strangely familiar.

Three years ago today, I underwent the stereotactic biopsy that confirmed the cancer that has changed the course of my life. It was the oddest, scariest, weirdest, MOST PAINFUL experience I’d had.

And, today, three years later, I am struggling.

With emotions I cannot seem to name.

Feelings I cannot seem to tame.

You’d think, after three years, that I wouldn’t be surprised. That I wouldn’t be taken off guard. That I’d be accustomed to the fact that grieving is unpredictable. That I’d at least have words, names, and strategies when emotions and feelings and memories like these pop up.

You’d think, maybe, that I’d be ‘over it’ ‘by now’.

You’d think.

But not so much.

Grieving is an odd, yet very common, thing. I’m learning more about it. And I am fascinated by the emotional and physiological effects it causes.

Grieving, in my experience, is a fluid thing. Sometimes, it’s like a flood, rising and spilling into places that are normally dry. Sometimes, it evaporates like the drips that end up on my stainless steel sink when no one wipes them up, leaving a telltale ring. Sometimes, it’s more of a gentle rain, soaking in slowly and {almost} refreshing. Sometimes, it rushes in like a tidal wave, knocking the very breath from your lungs and forcing you to squeeze shut your eyes.

Today, if I’m honest, it’s somewhere between a flood and a tidal wave.

I don’t remember if last August 13 had the same feel.

And I cannot predict next August 13.

In the interest of self-care amidst today’s grieving, I am allowing and acknowledging the feelings, even if I can’t name them. I am writing here. I will write – or draw – in my journal. I will let my body and my mind rest. If the tears fall, I will let them. I will not attach judgement to them. I will know that all is well.

And tomorrow, I will attend the funeral of a cancer friend who was so young, so full of life, so determined to beat this thing when last I saw her that my mind cannot seem to grasp the fact that she is gone Home. There is a grieving around that, too. And a gratitude for the short time that I knew her.

Gratitude and grieving.

Big, heavy things.

Even three years later.

We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.
~John Green

**If you think of it, please pray for the family and friends of my friend who is with Jesus now. She left behind a husband and a very young son and many, many people who loved her and who are now just beginning this journey of grieving. Thank you!


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