Opening my kitchen blinds this morning I was greeted by a red bellied woodpecker hopping up and down our tree. Down and up to the feeder checking for the hard cracked corn bar usually stuck on the platform. Then he’d look toward the windows as if to say, “Hey! Where’s the grub?” Then I spied a red cardinal in the branch above him as if Mother Nature knew I needed to see my favorite colored winged friends today. Two brilliant creatures beginning their day amidst the ominous winter sky and naked branches. A storm is expected and they were searching for sustenance. “I’m sorry my friends,” I sadly said. “Bird feed is a luxury I just can’t justify right now.” As I stared out at all our empty feeders and the expanse of yard now completely void of my beautiful birds the tears started to swell close to the surface. The Universe was attempting to speak. Rapidly removing my body and raw emotions from the view; I placed imaginary plugs in my ears. “Resistance is futile” now resonated in my head. The Universe, using the medium of Mother Nature had painted me the picture. The parallels were obvious. And I knew it was time. I must accept reality.
In the last month I too have been hopping from one website to another, desperately trying to find some remedy or cure. “Hey God! Where’s the answer?” was my plea. Ever the positivity path finder, I meditated, I prayed and I walked. A lot. But there is nothing positive within denial. “Mom! I know you and Clayton believe for a miracle and I have hope too; but not telling your family or pretending it’s not real doesn’t make it go away! You need to accept the facts so we can prepare for the inevitable.” Ah yes, my daughter jack slapping me into reality! We have come full circle and time keeps ticking in the backdrop of our lives.
Truth is I’m struggling to face yet another storm but recognize my personal necessity for sustenance. My spirit has been starved of essential nutrients like peace and truth; feasting on large doses of avoidance and dread. And to survive these next storms and this desolation my emotions are experiencing, I must simply let it Be.
To just “Be” is ever so painless and unchallenging when circumstances are peachy. Oh one could live and relive those moments. But let the landscape become barren, eyes unable to recognize any beauty and the very thought of “being” there is unfathomable. So I have been doing instead of being. Doing, well -anything…always moving never still. Wound up enough so that when days end arrives I could immediately fall out. Avoiding those quiet moments before drifting off. Purposeful like my birds. While I love to watch and identify them, calling each by name; their sole purpose is survival. So when backyard feeders are empty they find sustenance elsewhere. They purposefully avoid barren places and they survive. Well I have purposefully been emaciating my spirit thus barrenness and desolation my result. So today I will BE in the midst of the bad news, the facts, and the reality that is this moment. I will breathe in and out as I purposefully allow each emotion to wash over and right on out of me. I will weep and wail once more, possibly pound my fists or stomp my feet. Then I will announce it; speak it out to those who will lift us up in prayer thus embracing its reality.
Our son, Clayton, 25 years old today, was recently diagnosed with cardiac sarcoma, a rare form of heart cancer. Just after my kidney surgery in October, he told us he went to the doctor because he was having panic attacks and heaviness in his chest. He also frequently felt out of breath. They confirmed his panic attacks are a form of PTSD from Afghanistan. At that time they did a series of labs/scans of his heart and full body. They discovered (what follows is from the web but exactly what they described to him):
Cardiac angiosarcomas that occur on the pericardium (the thin sac that surrounds the heart) can cause increased fluid inside the sac. If enough fluid accumulates within the pericardial sac, the heart’s ability to pump blood is affected. Some signs of this occurrence may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and palpitations.
He was also told that when he has a panic attack, it thins his blood causing:
Tiny pieces (emboli) of cardiac sarcomas may break off and travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Emboli can affect the brain (causing a stroke), the lungs (causing respiratory distress), and/or other organs and body parts.
He was told the cancer had already spread to his lungs.
Now all of us were extremely skeptical of his “story”. Clayton has always been an embellisher, our grandiose thinker, our drama queen. We all love him but we all know him. He was also very emotionless and nonchalant about this disclosure. When asked about treatment options, details of the visit or his next appointment he was very vague. He told us, “It’ll all be alright.” We conferred as a family and since he is an adult and we couldn’t “check the facts” we concluded he just needed some extra attention since he and his wife had recently separated. We were all incredulous about it thinking it would be forgotten and chalked up as another “good one” by Clayton.
Three weeks ago today (January 22) I took him to a series of appointments at the VA hospital. Not only was his diagnosis confirmed, it was concluded he has 10 months to a year left to live.
Breathe in….breathe out
We believe he was actually told more and has chosen not to share it, much like Roger’s Dad did with his illness. He is adamant about not spending his last days hooked up to tubes and wires. I immediately began researching and calling Vanderbilt to try to get him a referral and was shut down. He asked me to “let him handle it in his own way” and to “please respect his wishes”.
I am, we all are, completely devastated. How can this be happening to our family? We have no history of cancer in our family! How can I, back in September, discover blood in my urine, get diagnosed with kidney cancer have it removed in October and be cancer free; to have this happen to my son ½ my age????
Clayton is currently on a short road trip with a friend, visiting friends in VA, SC, NC and GA. He is taking a prescription to help ease any panic attacks, which will help prolong his life he was told. I take him back to the VA in the next couple of weeks for tests and a counseling appointment.
As if that wasn’t enough…..
Roger has been experiencing pressure in his throat, difficulty swallowing and some pain. He says he feels like something is stuck in his esophagus, which is not a good sign. We both completely quit smoking 3 months ago but Roger had been smoking for 32 years. He goes to the doctor this Friday.
I will keep you all posted and would ask if you can understand, just for now, if we corresponded via e-mail as I have difficulty keeping it together verbally right now. And please pray, light a candle and send positive vibrations our direction.
There, I have released the truth of this day into the atmosphere.
Returning from a 4 mile walk in freezing rain, I realize I am calm. Spent, but ever so gratefully at peace. While I walked I was mindful of birds flying/singing, dogs barking, the wind blowing my wet hair, people driving by smiling /waving, a farmer giving his cattle some feed. Life still occurring in the crappiest of weather. Trees swaying, bending not breaking. Landscape of naked trees, proudly displaying strong boughs able to weather storms. Intently I listen as the cold breeze speaks and the rain stings my neck. I realize I’m smiling and there is spring in my steps. Duke, our Alaskan malamute, leading me home and I acknowledge with gratitude the ministry of creation; like the balm of Gilead for my aching soul. I can’t control anything except my thoughts, but I CAN use diligence and fiercely guard my heart. Everyone wants to rule their world, but to just BE is far more peaceful J
My spirit is again lifted up and I recall the verse, “yet will I praise Thee, even in the night”. All will be well in my world. All IS well in my world. And so it is. And so I let it BE!
Arriving back in our yard, I pause before going up the steps….
Twirling and swaying like my tree friends for even though today it’s freezing,
I’m still dancing in the rain.