A Quintessential Moment With Cancer

This day, with each of its moments slowing to the length of no less than an hour, punctuated by the reverberating beat of my heart, a pulsed give-and-receive of life running through me and back again. And again. And again still one. more. time.

This day, where I began stuck in melancholy, missing my mother taken by cancer just 18 days ago, or 432 hours, or 25,920 beats of my heart, that give-and-receive sorrow that doesn’t know how to stop me from picking up the phone to just say hi.

I heard the rain hitting the spring Oaks and Maples, and Mom, all I could think about was you and me, sitting right there on the porch with tape recorder in hand, listening to the sounds of the spring storm bring its thunder and its rain to us as we talked quietly and away from the microphones.

This day, where another friend went into the hospital for a double mastectomy to try and beat that cancer, beat it all away, beat it back and off and into the no-mores of her life and the lives of her husband and small children.

It was back on June 14, 2006 that my sister received her first drops of chemo, just after 1 a.m., and she and her husband held hands and acknowledged the tough road ahead of them. The chemo would be tough–tougher than anything she experienced 16 years ago when all this started. My brother-in-law started sending out email updates to the whole family, and we waited eagerly for the next one to come along.

Since then, she has battled hard, died twice and then revived, fought the odds, no matter how bad they looked.

Since then, Mom lost her battle, our friend begins hers, and I shame myself for not making better choices in my life and still being afforded a happy lifestyle and relatively good health.

So tonight, amidst these feelings of I Don’t Know What running through my head, my heart, my me, I get two emails just minutes apart from each other.

The first is from my brother-in-law, with the unbelievable news that my sister just took her last drip of chemo, and she is done. Finally done with the treatments, the surgeries, the life-threatening side effects, the nausea, the quarantines, the everything else we as healthy beings can never begin to understand, to appreciate what it means to go through that and still come out on the other side loving life more than we have ever known possible.
On the heels of reading this, my sister calls, and I am reduced to moments of silence as I try to not lose it over the phone. She is free of treatment! She is alive, is grateful, is full of life and of resolve. I tell her I love her, hang up the phone, and open my second email.

It is much like my Brother-in-law’s first note or two that he sent out nearly a year ago. It is heavy with hope, laced with exhaustion and fear. They are at the beginning of their long road, where somewhere in that forest of fear and courage and all that is unknown lies the secret to embracing the genuine meaning of life.

The cycle continues. As my sister’s IV dries, another one begins its drips, and all we can do is continue to pray. to offer strength. to throw out love. to believe that celebration is not about what may someday be but what is at this moment, this hour-long beat of time that we were never meant to squander or let pass by without even a glimpse of thanks, of hope, of belief.

We are here this moment, this beat. For each of us, may we find the way to treasure the quarter notes within, the eighths, the sixteenths, and recognize the wonderful energy each holds, no matter where we are along the journey.

2 thoughts on “A Quintessential Moment With Cancer

  1. Another beautifully written post. As awful as it is to think about I don’t think that any of us will get through our lives without being affected in some way by cancer, whether the loss of a loved one or our own struggle with it. I think you know I had cancer when I was 3 – a whilm’s tumor – I had my kidney removed and had chemo and radiation for some length of time. I am blessed that I was young enough not to remember; my parents had to live through it and remember it all. The ironic think and I can say this with some sort of calm regisnation (?) I do not think that I am done having cancer touch my life. I would rahter kick its a$$ again myself that see any of my loved ones suffer through it. I don’t know why these thoughts swirl in my head but they do.

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  2. Wonderfully expressed. I am at once sorry for the tragedy surrounding you and yours and am thrilled with the news of your sister’s health. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers and am grateful for the rays of hope amidst the despair that cancer can cause.

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