I have decided that the number of blogs I post a week is some indicator of where I am in this journey through grief. I'd love to say I am clipping along at one post per day, but it seems I'm closer to limping toward one or (maybe) two posts a week.
I was waiting for the coffee maker to deliver its goodness today (a HOLIDAY FROM SCHOOL!!!!!), when I glanced at the side of my refrigerator. And inspiration hit.
We began this journey with cancer in November 2002, with the first operation in February 2003. There were long stretches of D being hospitalized or homebound and recovering. Our resolution in 2006 was to learn to live again, even with a cloud of cancer looming. We were inspired by the words Jesus spoke when He said, "I have come to give you life, and give it to you abundantly. " We decided if D was going to live, we were going to LIVE. And if he was going to die, we were still going to LIVE. We decided to hold God to His word that abundant life was for now, and not someday when cancer was no longer a threat.
We started taping things to the refrigerator to remind us of the good things in our lives. 2006 began with a cruise to the Caribbean. We loved seeing musical performances and attended the TransSiberian Orchestra, and Broadway Across America's "Momma Mia" and "The Lion King". We attended a local production of "The Fantastics" ("Try to remember when life was so tender, that dreams were kept beside your pillow..."), and visited friends at the coast where we watched dolphins play by our deckside restaurant table. News of the amputation came that summer, and a friend lent us her home in Maine for our last real traveling vacation. Our daughter married that fall, and we purposed in our heart to enjoy the wedding to the fullest degree, inspite of the fact that D could not walk her down the aisle after all. (He did offer, in his dry way, to drive her down the aisle in the basket of his scooter. The offer was politely declined.)
2007 began with a concert (I apologize ahead of time to my adult children) to see the band "Air Supply". (Let's just say: there is a certain age when older singers should no longer be allowed to wear leather pants and big hair.) I put a very brave D, and his walker, on a plane to see his daughter in February. We loved going to see "indie" movies at a local theater, and enjoyed "Young at Heart" and "The Visitor". Not long after that, D turned to me and said, "I think I have a brain tumor." Being the kind and compassionate wife I am, I said, "NO, YOU DO NOT." (Because we were both very tired of hospitals and medical procedures.) Well, the MRIs begged to differ with me, and on my birthday, D had a 14 hour surgery to remove a tumor covering one-fourth of his brain. And was home an recovering like a rock star in just a few days. Feeling like we had dodged a major bullet, we returned to abundant life with a vengeance. We flew to Missouri to see now-Married Daughter and her precious husband.( My favorite sidetrip there was a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum which even contained Pa's fiddle. ) Another one of our favorite activities was to go to a local movie chain that serves food during the showing. D did not have the stamina to go to a movie and go out to eat, so this kind of killed both birds with one stone. That summer, D took classes to learn how to drive a car with hand controls, and we had a van adapted for him. We both wept at the freedom this would afford him as I returned to school in the fall. I don't know if you can see it, but the last item of the year is a post-it note he wrote me that says, "Have a good day. I love you. D" that had been left on the coffee pot, where he knew I'd find it first thing in the morning. So glad I kept it.
2009 began with Broadway Across America's "Legally Blond: The Musical". We laughed and said we felt like we were returning to normal life, not knowing this would be the last six months we'd have together. D drove to see his daughter in Fort Worth in February. He drove the two of us all the way to Missouri to see Married Daughter and her husband during my Spring Break. Life was feeling pretty abundant! My birthday brought tickets to a local production of "Grease" and a "Happy Birthday Sweetheart" post-it on the coffee maker. (Do you notice a trend with coffee in my life?) We went to the indie film "The Soloist" and D busted a gut laughing at "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" (a movie I did not even get, but loved to hear his hilarity in the next seat). And the next week, we found ourselves in our oncologist's office hearing the unimaginable: only six months left of our abundant life together. And the aggression of the cancer shaved that into six weeks.
But in the in-between times? We did have abundant life. We lived very consciously, and we appreciated things on a level we never would have if our calendar pages had seemed limitless.
Each year, I have my class write a report about hometown hero, Lance Armstrong. We inevitably end up with his motto, "Carpe Diem", and try to break it down into a first-grade friendly translation. This year's version was, "Grab the day. Get all the happiness out of it." Well said, six year old best friends, well said.
So today, I've decided to add one more post-it note to my refrigerator:
I cannot wait to see the abundant life that is ahead of me in the year ahead. And I hope for the same for you. It is not for "someday when", it is for NOW.
I end with the words of a song that keeps playing in my head. You can hear the full version of it here.
There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans he’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet.