Monday, June 13, 2011

the ocean and nothing

do you remember that word i used in my last post,  end of second paragraph in my "plan c" piece?  the word i said which seems to be thematic to this blog ...our journey... my life.  the lesson i supposedly keep failing to learn.  the thing which i can't ever seem to grasp.  yeah, that word.  waiting.  w-a-i-t-i-n-g.  waiting.  guess what i found out earlier today?   more waiting.

we are at the beach this week.  just for a few days.  rick has a conference and it happens to be at the ritz on amelia island.  how lovely, "well, of course honey, we'll come!"  so this morning with suits on and sunscreen applied we were heading out the door for some time on the beach.  just the youngest three and me. rick is in meetings and the older two are in guatemala on a mission trip. (yes, the irony hasn't escaped me:  some of us at the ritz and some of us on a mission trip).   i am fine managing the littlest three, but find myself wondering what we can "do without" at the beach today.  i can still carry pretty much a sand shovel. maybe.  bella carries less and, in fact,  sometimes needs herself to be carried.  which leaves a slightly scrawny 11 year old girl and her 8 year old brother to do the heavy work.   so there we are with our great, heaping piles of beach stuff when my phone rings.  i recognize the number immediately. it is jennifer,  my surgeon's assistant.  when going through cancer you quickly learn the numbers of your different doctors.

i tell the kids to hold tight and i take the call.  all beating heart and pounding pulse.  my stomach is flipping and my knees are weak.   it feels somewhat similar to that call i took on april 19th.  that one which started this whole ugly ball rolling.  i know she is calling with my oncotype results, but have absolutely no guess at what she will say.  wildly good news or wildly bad.  but i just want to know.  dr. barber's nurse, jennifer, begins with morning pleasantries and it is all i can do to not scream, "just tell me, already!" i am prepared for the good and i am even kind of prepared for the bad, but i am not prepared for what she tells me.  "jody, we got your oncotype back, and i am so sorry, but the results are inconclusive."  it seems the tumor sample they sent to the genomic lab in california does not contain enough genetic information to provide an accurate number.  i am stunned.  i didn't know this was a possible outcome.  i hadn't prepared for it.  i wasn't expecting it.  i am not sure what to think.  immediately i have a million questions in my head but find myself stuttering over the words necessary for the asking.  she tells me that only one other time has this happened in these past few years of running this test.  this just never happens.  she is surprised and she is sorry.  she is sorry and i am unsure.   unsure what to do with this inconclusive news. the no-answer.  she talks about sending another sample of the tissue.  i tell her to send the whole insane tumor for goodness sake.  whatever.  just let's move on.  i feel patience bleeding out of me.  it takes with it my breath, my energy and my calm.  i am still holding that sand shovel.  and i finally let go.  i am hiding in the master bath of our suite and only the marble is cool.  everything around me and in me seems suddenly hot.  boiling.  i am not sure how to walk out of this room and answer the questioning eyes of my children.  they know i am on an important phone call.  i wouldn't normally answer the phone with beach things heavy in our hands and feet already in flip flops.  i am a mother of five and i know better than to halt a beach bound train of children already in motion.

it isn't the worst news.  i realize that.  it isn't even bad news.  it is no news.  that's what it is.  no news.   no answer.  and i just can't quite seem to process this nothingness.   but somehow i make it out of the bathroom and we make it down to the beach.  we put our feet in the ocean and our bottoms in the sand and though the day is sweltering the boil inside me ceases.  a little.  the ocean helps.  i watch my three small ones dance in the whirl of sand and surf.  splashes of bright swimsuit and childhood light against the muted,  gray-blue atlantic.  they are tiny.  it is large.  so very large.  the largeness of it all helps in some strange way. spreads it thinner.  shrinks the size.  it is good to feel small in the midst of something so big.   i have been consumed with this cancer.  it has taken big bites out of my days and nights and self.  and i am tired of its taking.  i am tired and i want desperately to toss it into the water and watch it float far away.  but i can't toss this nothingness.  it is too empty.   light, like sand flung in the sky, and surely it will come right back at me.  i will end up with eyes full of sting and grit.  and so i fling nothing.  i toss nothing.  i hold nothing.  i, perhaps, even feel nothing.

and now it is later-afternoon and i sit here typing.  further quiet.  finally cool.  rick's meetings have ended and he has scooped up our three and taken them for a pre-dinner swim.   i pull out my no news and i have the chance to look it all over more closely now.  all scrutiny and examination, i am.   and it is now i remember my words in the previous post.  my words about waiting.  and i almost laugh.  almost.  "oh Lord, what are you up to?  what are you teaching me?  you aren't cruel.  you're always good.  so good.  only good.  where are we going with this?  and why?" always, like a petulant child with her never-ending-whys, i am.   i can't understand. and i can't pretend. and i am tired of trying.  from my balcony i can see the same muted ocean.  i am close enough to hear its water-rhythm:  the sound of the surf and the calm of the waves crashing.   loud and quiet all wrapped up in vast measure.  even larger now from my end-of-the-day place.  and there steady above is the horizon.  a two-toned line running as far as forever.   as far as my eyes can see.  and i want to see.  i am even more certain i won't fling or toss away what i am given.  even this nothingness.  nothing in me wants to be left with sand-scratched eyes.  i want to see.  i want to see where God is leading.  and even when i cannot see with my own eyes i want to see with the eyes of trust.  and isn't this faith? "now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (hebrews 11:1).    i do not see.  i cannot.  but i want to see with the eyes of faith.  i want to trust in His seeing.  His knowing. His holding. 

God who formed land and formed waters and formed me,  He knows.  He formed all of this from nothing.   He spoke it all into being.   this ocean before me and the shore kneeling low and solid at its side, He spoke.   He spoke the firmament into place and then called it good.
 "and God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” and it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.  ~ genesis 1:9
and even though it began as nothing my God called it good.  He thought it and He named it and He saw it and He called it.  because my God is that big. and He is that good.  and i can know that  even this nothing-kind-of-news today is safe in His  grasp.  He is bigger than it.   bigger than my cancer.  bigger than this vast ocean.  and if He holds this wind and water, He holds me and my nothingness.  and i sit and stare a few minutes more.  closer to seeing.  i hear the children coming.  running down the hall.  heavy footsteps for such light bodies.  and i type one  last sentence and i take one more look and i though i seem to know nothing, i am certain of this:  God holds it all.  the ocean beyond my balcony proclaims it is so and the clear eyes of my heart know it so.  He holds.
  "Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
 Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?
 Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
 Who has established all the ends of the earth? 
What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know!" ~ proverbs 30:4  


Simply LKJ said...

Know we are waiting with you, praying along side you.
Lauren, Mark and Katie

carolyn bradford said...

I truly haven't quit praying for you...someday perhaps we can meet...for now, I am blessed by your truthfulness and the reminders of God's infinite love.

Aus said...

Ah Jody - ack - and there really no words that offer comfort for a 'no decision'. I think I see the message here - but it's your message not mine. I'll ask you to mark your calendar on the 28th - go back and read the post from 6/14. If I'm right about the message you'll see it by then. You've actually gotten the message - and you are writing it every day - but like so many things we miss when we are 'right on top of them' - you just need some distance!

We're pulling for you - we're praying for you and your family!

hugs - aus and co.