Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What Have I Learned?

Everybody says, "I don't know how you've done it, Sherry."  And, when I look back, I sometimes wonder too.  First Jed's fall into quadriplegia, the financial disaster that brought, years of care taking, sudden realization that cancer would steal Jed, becoming a widow and then getting breast cancer a few months after losing the love of my life.  That's enough for a while.  Six and a half years of education.  Can't say I'm glad it all happened, but I can say I'm a better person for taking the journey.

So what have I learned?  First and foremost, God is in control.  Makes no sense to fight it.  Peace may come slowly, but it comes sooner with the realization that you simply are not in charge.  Now, that doesn't mean sit around and do nothing.  It means take all the energy, anger, sadness, frustration and just plain disbelief and fight against everything of injustice while at the same time realizing it's God that giving you the ability to do it.

I've learned to accept help; from any and everybody!  From the very beginning I simply could not have managed without the hundreds of people who seemed to be there right when I needed them.  We were showered with food and carpentry and equipment and care.  We had debts forgiven and joy delivered.  We spent most of our lives together rather independent of others, but our journey changed all of that for my good.

I've learned that darkness doesn't hang around forever.  In the midst of some of the worst of it, I was sure we could not survive intact.  Survive seems the wrong word, since Jed has died, but survive we did, in multi-color.  Until cancer took him quickly we lived very joyfully, shockingly joyful. Laughter colored our days and filled our nights with silliness.  Even the dark and awful times of missing him have been painted over with lovely memories rather than sharp pain.  And, when I was challenged to my core with breast cancer I can now laugh at the fact that my dog used my prosthetic breast as a chew toy.  Darkness does not hang around forever, unless, of course you want it too.  You do have to be open to the small beam of light sneaking in the deepest, darkest corners of your shock and pain.

I've learned to really see people.  Every day new people walk into my life in the shop; some of them crazy, some of them thieves, some of them pitiful, some in great pain, and some not affected by life's cruel stories.  Most are just down to earth honest people spending a little of their time with me.  Some know my story and tell me they've been praying, most are just looking for something to brighten their day.  But they all like being treated with a bit of kindness and a smile, and they all love to share their story.  Just this week I talked with a young girl who was so happy to get a pair of boots that actually worked for her prosthetic foot.  She shared her story of the car accident and the pain that she lives with still after many years.  She left with a pair of boots that Angie no longer needed and we were both filled with the awareness that it's good to really see people.

I probably always knew this, being raised a farm girl and all, but it's been reinforced these past few years.  It's okay to cuss and cry and drink and scream, even to doubt and hate.  It's not all about praise and thankfulness and giving into the spirit.  God knows it takes time.

And so, now what's next?  That takes me back to #1, God's in control.  Some people say, "you're so strong..." or many forms of that message.  Bottom line is, just like the young girl with the new boots said as she told her story, "It's not like I had a choice about it."  The only thing I have a choice about is what I take from it.  My heart is full.  My memories are beautiful, and tomorrow will be better because of what I've learned today, and if I can help someone else on their journey then I was there for them when they needed me.  Life is pretty simple.  Like my daily prayer, "help me be kind and make good decisions.  Amen 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

One Year of Cancer

It was a year ago that my doctor shook me out of my denial by saying, "what you have is real."  I was trying to convince him that I just needed to lose some weight and the stress of the past few years had taken it's tole.  While both of those are true, I had breast cancer and I now am a one breasted woman. When I look back at this year, all I see is blur.  "It wasn't so bad," is what I told my daughter and she reminded me that indeed, mom, it was.  Four surgeries.  Chemotherapy.  Baldness.  Prosthetic.  Bed, bed, bed.  Blur.  Foggy memories.  Pain.  Marijuana to help.  But now I feel good.  I wish I had my breast, but it's a long scar instead.  I wish I had my husband, but that's not to be.  I wish, I wish, I wish.  But what I have is simple joy.  The misery and pain is in the past.  Memories of adventures with Jed are warm and fulfilling.  My energy is back and the future is there for the living.  Decisions are possible.  New adventures are too.  I can't say that I'm glad I had cancer, but cancer has given me a gift of discernment.  Been there.  Done that.  Moving on with thankfulness.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Journey

"It's my journey, and I'm going to take it!"  That's been my power speech for the last few weeks.  It gives me some "umph" when I say it. and it makes people laugh, so I think I'll stick with it.  Today I got word from the doctor that I am "triple negative."  That has nothing to do with my look on life or my general nature.  It does, however. tell me that my cancer is aggressive and illusive and must be treated with respect.  It indeed has a life of it's own and is taking hold in my body.  Correction, wants to take hold in my body.  I, however, have power over those little shitty cells and the war begins. 

The fence jumping, hog feeding farm girl in me tends to believe that everything can be managed by just being a bit more tough, but I think this one got me straddled over the fence.  My journey has left the farm and moved on to the simple drips of the poison that will soon flow through my veins in a barbaric attempt to kill the bad stuff.  Chemotherapy lurks in my journey's future. 

So how do I put this into some kind on sense?  Best I can come up with is, "there is no sense, and that's that."  Struggle as I might with why, and all the mind meanderings of who, why, where, what and when, I come up only with, "because."

I'm a little more than a month past my mastectomy, and was prepared to hear the doctor say, "Looks like we got it all," when I get the news of my new journey.  My faith is no less strong.  My eyes are a little bit more open.  So, "It's my journey, and I'm going to take it!," seems to be working for me.