Thursday, April 19, 2012

april 19th: the act of forgetting and the art of remembering

it was april 19th, one year ago today, when i sat beneath a giant tree in my friend's front yard and heard "jody, i'm sorry, but the tumor is malignant."  was that really only a year ago? it seems just yesterday and yet, in a strange way, it also seems somehow a lifetime ago.  i won't quickly forget that sunny april day.  those blue skies.  that giant oak.  the feel of the phone hot on my ear. the tears hot on my cheeks.  the breath leaving my body hard and the friends sitting close by, holding my hand tight.  

that day marked me. seared something. changed a lot.

but now a year later, after surgery and medicine and too many doctor appointments to count, life has gone on.  i have plenty of days where i wake and don't even think about the ugly C word.  somedays i make it all the way to lunchtime with hardly a glance in its hideous direction.  sure, when i pop that tiny white tamoxifen pill in my mouth each afternoon i am reminded. but we've moved away from the gut wrenching fear of last spring, from the all consuming cancer.

there are absolutely still things i worry about.  my friend, beverly (also diagnosed), and i text back and forth at times about the "what ifs" and the worries.  we probably shouldn't do that.  as grown women, we know better...but we have found a little bit of shared comfort in each other's affirming words, "yeah, i think about that too..." we say to each other.  even a good prognosis has its share of concerns and anxieties.  it just does.

this year may have been physically altering for me, but even more so, it has been emotionally, mentally and spiritually altering.  it was a year which taught me the importance of clinging to truth...not just positive thoughts and good wishes, but truth.  in situations like this, boy is the difference crystal clear.   and how thankful i was throughout this journey to know i had a God who was completely in charge...absolutely in control.

just last week our 12 year old, sarah, had surgery -- tonsils and adenoids removed. and as we were driving to her surgery, she was sharing some of her fears about the day ahead.  at age 12 she verbalized the fact that trusting God was in control meant knowing He could even choose to take her life at any time.  wow.  where do you go with that conversation on an early monday morning in rush hour traffic?  but we continued to flush out her thinking.  "yes, that's exactly what it means. God is in control of each and every breath.  He knows the number of hairs on our head and the number of days in our life."   i get why that can be a little scary.  but let's talk about the alternative:  He doesn't know. no one is in charge.  life just happens.  everything is random.  there is no plan.  we have no purpose.  i don't know about you, but to me, that seems infinitely worse.

i've written a lot this year.  more than ever before.  the stuff just keeps coming, but i'm not surprised.  a year ago, early in the days of first diagnosis, one morning in my devotions, i stumbled across a verse from the psalms:  "i will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done." ~ psalm 118:17

i'm not sure i had ever seen that verse before. but on that morning,  it felt like a special message from God.  this verse sort of became my banner.  my battle cry. it became my lifeline.  i clung to it often.  repeated it to myself frequently and relied on it heavily. my oldest daughter, emily, painted that verse for me on mother's day last year, a week before my surgery.  it rested on the armoire in my bedroom and in those days of recovery where i had to lie still and behave myself, i kept my eyes fixed on that verse. soon after,  i began writing more than ever before. post after post came pouring out.  part of my healing-soul.  part of my proclaiming-God.

perhaps some of you are tired of hearing from me.  "oh, it's her again. for heaven's sake, doesn't she have five children to feed or something to clean?"  but my dark dance with cancer somehow ripped wide open in me the need for words and a desire to proclaim what God has done... is doing... and will do.  honestly, i think one of the things i am most frightened by is the potential to stop talking and writing and then to forget.  because we are like that.  we are forgetters.  like the israelites in the desert cursing God, stiff-necked and scrambling for their manna, they forgot this God of their exile was the very same God of their exodus. they forgot this was the God who had parted waters and defeated pharaoh and lit the night sky with a pillar of fire -- this was the God of their rescue.  and just like them, we, too, forget what God has already done.  though there are parts about the cancer i'd like to put behind me, i don't ever want to completely forget.  i don't want to forget God's great rescue in my life. i want to move on from my cancer, but not forget what it gave me.  i want to move away from the fear, but hold tight to the lessons i learned.  i want to stay soft to the sweetness of His presence. 

when we were going through that valley, our family began to treat life dearer, closer, kinder.  my kids stopped bickering for awhile.  i'd really like that to continue. (especially the kid thing). i don't want to go back to that place where we take things for granted or treat each other as if we'll always be here.  but it's hard.  life returns and so does the nonchalance of hurried living.  i snap at my husband and snip at my children and race through the grocery store.  i grumble over grass stains and get huffy when i have too much to do. forgetting that even grass stains are a gift.  and i find myself wading knee deep, again, in the ugly ungratefulness of a woman stretched thin. sometimes it seems i am almost drowning in my failure to remember.

but God remains faithful and patient with me.  and often, just on the brink of blurry living, i am reminded again of God's goodness when He gently tilts my head and turns my eyes in the direction of blessing.

the april blue sky.
a giant oak tree.
hot tears.
soft touches.
kind words.

the glimpses of loving.  the gift of learning.  the art of seeing.  the blessing of remembering.  the beauty of living.  

and a year full of healing.

april 19th.

my blessings


Aus said...

Good morning my friend - happy anniversary!

When I look at those pictures and see these words I marvel at what a brilliant and complete person you are!

and I'm moved to say that while I know there were times when you thought you'd never make it - well - you have arrived - and your journey has been inspiring!

you see - for you and your family - this is what it means to be a "survivor"!

Wear you colors proudly - you've earned them - and just look at what you have done!

great joy - and oh so glad to know you guys!

hugs - aus and co.

Tiffany said...

Love this Jody. Still in in it. Don't want to be. But already seeing the mundane become precious, the tedious become treasured.