Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vision Shift.

So there you are, moving along with life, feeling blessed, but tired, because your three kids have a seemingly insatiable appetite for "doing something" this summer, and that something never seems to be "grabbing a good book, plopping on the couch and reading for an hour", and you are happy and satisfied with life and then, out of seemingly nowhere, a gigantic blob of poop descends upon you, crowding out all other thoughts, reframing your vision of the future, and then there you are left to make sense of it all.

Here's the short story: my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago.  Today is his first day of chemo.

And here's the great news: his prognosis is good.  Here's the weird news: his cancer is very rare and only 600- 1000 people get it every year.  Even the trusty Internet has little to say about it.

And here's what my blog post will not be about: all the nitty-gritty of meds, appointments, tests, and info we are trying to wrap our heads around.  Because while that is a huge part of our day to day life now, that is really my dad's story.

But I have a little to say about the last few weeks, about how I have made a transformation in my thinking and how God has spoken to me.

There are only a handful of times in my life that I have felt so cut to the quick and rendered totally helpless, and the moment when my dad called with the first pieces of bad news was one of the worst for me.  You desperately want a do-over, the ability to rewind the tape and have the outcome be something different.  For the next week or so, while we were waiting on further testing and the first oncology appointment, I was a hot mess of anxiety and fear about what was happening to him, what he would have to face, worrying about whether he would suffer or be in pain, and what did this all mean for our lives down the road.  I was horrified by the thoughts I was having, the degree to which I was planning ahead for the worst, the utter lengths of the extrapolations I was able to muster at 3am.

And all this time, I was praying, praying, feverishly praying, doing all I had learned and believed and had been taught since I was a little tiny girl about faith and love and trusting in God.  And I was really struggling, because I couldn't feel God anywhere.  And I admit that I was starting to feel abandoned.  And doubtful.

Thankfully, the few people that we initially told were so supportive and loving and scared right along with us that I felt taken care of.  Dan was wonderful, the girls were understanding, and my friends (who are not just friends of mine, but also have known and loved my dad for decades) wrapped me in as much kindness as possible.

But there was this blob of poop, this gigantic, indigestible, amorphous thing hanging over our heads.  There was no way to break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.  It clouded my vision.  The pit in my stomach was fantastic. 

The worst for me was the day before the oncology appointment: my anxiety about what the doctor would say, what road the treatment would take, what likelihood we had that we would still have my dad as we know and love him now to enjoy for years to come- all of that worry was swirled up into a fury inside of me.  And there was nothing I could do but sit and wait. 

And on that day- I will never forget it- I was opening up the fridge for the 100th time that day, and a little voice said in the tiniest of cheerful whispers, "It's going to be okay."

I stopped dead in my tracks and tried to listen.

And that voice was a little flicker of hope that lit that day and has grown ever since.  On the day of the appointment, while I was waiting for news, I felt God around me, inside me, holding me up and soothing my ferociously worked-up spirit.  (I was quite a handful for Him that day.) When my parents came back from the appointment and told me all they had learned, that big gigantic ball of poop started to cleave and become more manageable.  Now we're down to bite-sized globs of grossness to deal with.  (Are you getting a little grossed out by my poop metaphor? Because I think I am, too.)  We all take one day at a time with the knowledge that everyday brings us closer to my dad being well again. 

For me, the silver lining in all of this thus far has been feeling and experiencing the Holy Spirit touching me and helping me through.  I don't know how people without faith and church families can handle this awful disease.  My family has been blessed with the love and support and words of encouragement of friends and family.

In many ways we are just starting this journey, and truthfully don't know what the future will bring us.  That is scary and anxiety-provoking and awful.  As a person who has thrived on stability, having this vision shift has been a real struggle.  I am heartened by the fact that I know now that I will not feel like I did those first few weeks forever- that life goes on, and groceries have to be bought and laundry has to be done and school will start and this white hot sharp summer will fade into a glorious, softer fall. Millions of other people face the same issues we are facing now as a family and they survive, too. 

We all put one foot in front of each other, face each new day fresh and hopeful for good news, and thank God continually for our blessings and for being there with us. And praying, always praying for healing and comfort for my marvelous dad.

It's going to be okay.

And a P.S. ... CANCER SUCKS.