No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
A week ago today I wrote to say that I was entering the steel and sterile doors of an operating room. A week ago tonight I was gradually climbing above the fog of anesthesia.
In seven short days I have experienced strength and weakness. I have felt brave and fearful. The recovery required more hospital time than I had anticipated. The second day I had to pray my fighting prayers to stay hopeful while new and VERY unpleasant tests were required. In the end all was well and I returned to my home where family and friends surrounded me with comfort and care.
Getting well takes work and attitude. Healing is never simple. Always details that require attention. Details that would normally make my skin crawl! But these were and are my details. Important to oversee with the bravest heart I can manage.
I am in the midst of positively healing. With surgery behind me I came home to wait for labs that would reveal the next road to be taken. In three short days (I was told it would be a week), the phone rang and my surgeon shared the best news- the cancer was contained, all lymph nodes were clear.
I felt my breath enter as if anew – as if this were my very first day.
And now I hear – ‘pay attention’. Healing is never simple. The mind and spirit join the body’s work to heal. I have been here before and each time the call to ‘pay attention’ grows in intensity.
The chance is before me once again- to discover secrets, cover uncharted lands and most especially – to open doorways.
With gratitude spilling over, I wonder – what could be waiting…
There are some years when memories of the past come around with more intensity than others. Each year I come to the birthday of Dr. Mary Beth Foil with a flood of memories – details of a time when reality was softened for a while with a friendship rich in light and creativity. Life is not long enough for many of these friendships. When they occur it is important to pay attention, every moment carries meaning.
The friendship shared between Beth and myself was filled with the sparks of dreams and love. We looked to the future with inspiration and hope. This energy was contagious and we found ourselves surrounded by others eager to imagine with us.
No one was prepared for the sudden loss of this gifted and determined spirit. While in early treatment for breast cancer, her death came suddenly and with little warning. No doubt the way she would have wanted it, the moments to say goodbye were brief. The days to follow were wrapped in sorrow and celebration.
As a hospital chaplain, I have often been present to grief’s unveiling. With all the study and work done to lay out the steps of grief, no one can really predict a person’s response to loss. Like a well, grief is deep but never filled with complete darkness. Within it can glow a light of spirit and stir a song of creation.
In the nine years since her death, I have been grateful for her family’s focus to celebrate and remember on her birthdate. We celebrate her beautiful daughter who has quickly become a young woman and the love she shared with family and friends. We give thanks for her skill in medicine and the lives she touched along the way.
I give thanks for those years we shared, caring for one another and our common passion for healing and wholeness. There are many pieces to the memories of those years. One was my introduction to Eva Cassidy. In honor and memory of Beth – I share this song in hopes that the listener has their own image of these fields…
Tonight I learned that a new friend has cancer throughout her body. At the age of 90 she has danced and sung her way through life. Even though we have just recently met, I know I’ve been gifted a diamond.
I share this post in her honor and as a reminder – be aware of each moment for soon it will be a memory.