Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hello, Rhino!

I wrote in an earlier post (Fatal Associations) that I was setting aside The Book of Rhino #2 because I did not want it to be associated with chemotherapy. Well, now I am back at my writing desk and rejoicing. The thing is, I love Rhino. I missed him.

I missed Amalia. I missed Alanar, Skandar, Wilfred, Elbert, and Trevor. I missed Virgil, Franna, Hosten, and Beatrice. I missed Brother Simon and Master Altman. I missed Rheynold, Lokinvar, Vortimer, William, and Ethelred. I missed Henry William, Margery, and Derwin the miller (the most fortunate of men.) I missed Malcolm the musician and  his sister Merion. I even missed Father Caril.

I missed Hedgehog (in small doses.) But most of all, I missed Skunk, Mole, Rabbit, Mountain Horse, and Dove. I am so glad to be back with them, sharing their adventures and regaling them with tall tales.

(Note to self: My list reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's list of authors he knows. The world would probably find his list much more impressive than mine. No matter. I would not trade my list for his or anyone else's.)

So glad to be back.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Returning to the World

Hello Universe!
It is so nice to keep company with you again. I have missed you.

Last Sunday, I attended church for the first time in six months – it was wonderful! Our Sunday school teacher played a music video "If You Don't Love Your Neighbor, Then You Don't Love God." It was very fitting. For the past six months, I have been the neighbor, the grateful recipient of countless loving acts of kindness from others. As I have mentioned before in this journal, one of the things I have learned is there are no trivial acts of kindness. They are all huge.

One of my goals is to be healthy enough to pay it forward, to show others in need the care and compassion so liberally bestowed on me. May my eyes and heart be opened to whomever is my neighbor. I am pretty sure the universe will back me up in this. May all of you have a very lovely day.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Brain Sympathy

Daily Prompt:Sympathize

Next Monday will mark three weeks since my last chemo infusion. I wonder if my brain will recognize the date and make me feel  sick. Habits of the flesh, you know. Perhaps I should not even be writing about it just in case I give my brain ideas. Hmm...
"Well, heigh ho," I say, (in case my brain is listening),"I am certainly looking forward to feeling good on Monday." There. That should set her off the track (assuming, of course, that my brain pays any attention to the things I say.)

On the other hand, if my brain decides to make me sick next Monday, I think it will due to misapplied sympathy. My brain decides that I should feel more comfortable feeling sick because that is what I have grown accustomed to it. So it thinks it sympathizes with me, but if it had any empathy at all, it would leave me be.

Brain sympathy: The condition in which the brain imagines it shares your feelings  based on empirical data. The brain–being the rational creature that it is–does not sympathize. It cannot actually feel what my stomach does. It can only empathize in understanding what it feels like.

Note: Sympathy is feeling what another person feels. Empathy is understanding what another person feels without necessarily experiencing the same feeling.

Other than occasional misplaced sympathy, I am very happy with the way my brain functions and am willing to overlook its mistakes. It is allowed to be goofy once in a while; I don't even mind when it is Mickey Mouse or Pluto. I just hope it does not make me sick on Monday.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Remembering Noah

"For precept must be upon precept,
 Precept upon precept,
Line upon line, 
Line upon line, 
Here a little, there a little."
Isaiah 28:10

Noah's memorial service was yesterday. I was unable to attend because of my physical condition, but I heard it was lovely. (One more life event that cancer has taken from me.) As sad as I was, I wondered why I was not overcome with grief at missing the service. I thought I would be, seeing as how I was denied the opportunity for a final farewell.

Then I realized that I have already built and attended a memorial to Noah. I have sanctified a holy place for him in my heart. It happened when I included Noah in my book. What a marvelous thing that has turned out to be! Line upon line.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of making things for family and friends by sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, and needlepoint. Throughout every fibre art project, I think about the person for whom I am making it. Every stitch brings them to mind. I recall their faces, walk down memories with them, and sometimes pray blessings for them. It is a loving and intimate experience. Line upon line.

I have made a quilt, afghans, hats, scarves, stuffed animals, and slippers for Noah–even a Pillow-on-My-Head. Every stitch put into those projects was a link between Noah and me. The same thing happened when I wrote about him. Every word, every sentence about Noah–what Kurt Vonnegut calls "black marks on white paper"–was carefully chosen and written with love. Precept upon precept.

I am so glad I wrote about Noah; he will be made known to anyone who reads about him. It is fitting. Everyone should know Noah and love him. As for me, I will continue to write about him. Line upon line.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Final Chemo Infusion

I had my sixth infusion on Monday, January 15. I pray it will be my last. It has been a slow and painful process, one I hope to never repeat. I postponed this last treatment a few days in order to attend my sister's wedding. I wanted to be there to welcome new members of the family. Life is good. but Life also had another farewell for us.

Noah Jack Jay Hart, our grandson, passed away January 17, 2018. He was born with hydrocephalus and struggled with its complications all his young life. His death was long expected, yet altogether unexpected.

Noah was a great kid. Everybody loved Noah. He was popular at the home where he lived and at the school he attended. He was Homecoming King and Student Body President. Although he often had bad spells due to his physical infirmities, he always loved to laugh. My dad said once that when he died, he wanted his spirit to join with Noah’s; given Noah’s propensity for laughter, I think my dad got his wish.

I always prayed that Noah’s passing would be painless, quick, surrounded by people who loved him. My prayer was answered. Noah has been set free.

Noah never walked, he never ran, he never played baseball, but he soared. Oh, how he soared! He never knew that he could not be happy or sad or frustrated or mischievous at any instant. Life met Noah moment by moment, and he embraced it.

One of his favorite songs was “Pillow on My Head.”

Pillow on my head,
Pillow on my head,
I just want my pillow on my head.
Socks upon my feet,
Socks upon my feet,
I just want my socks upon my feet.
Boogers up my nose,
Boogers up my nose,
I just want my boogers up my nose.
Fingers down my throat,
Fingers down my throat,
I just want my fingers down my throat.

That’s Noah. Everybody knows Noah. Everybody loves Noah.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Almost Number Six

My next (and I hope final) chemo session is Monday. It was postponed from Thursday, the usual day, because my sister-in-law is getting married on Sunday, and I wanted to go to the wedding. If I had my infusion on Thursday, I would be in no shape to attend. I'm so glad it worked out this way, although I am not looking forward to Monday.

My mother, my sister, and her husband came for a five-day visit last week. It was wonderful. My sister has been so supportive through this whole ordeal. I bless her everyday. It was very encouraging that my brother-in-law wanted to visit this time to offer his support. I love those guys. I also loved seeing my mom. That woman is amazing! Fifteen years ago, she went through treatment for colon cancer. Today, at eighty-eight, she is strong and healthy–just a little goofy at times.

My mother spent Christmas with my sister. While she was there, my sister took her shopping with her to buy a massage pillow for her neck. The sales clerk helping my sister wandered over to where my mother was sitting. Seeing the clerk within shouting distance, my mother called to him, "My daughter needs a vibrator!" My sister was mortified.
"Mom," she whispered. "Keep your voice down. Do you even know what a vibrator is?"
My mom thought for a few seconds.
"Oh!" (A long pause) "Yea, I do."

My mother gets away with saying things like that because (1) she is so cute and (2) we all spoil her. We children have always looked out for our parents; since my father died, we have grown especially protective of our mother. Our united purpose is that she never wants for anything and enjoys her life. That means we overlook the occasional faux pas. Besides, she has lived for almost eighty-nine years. She has a right to be heard.

I hope I have inherited her cancer-fighting genes. Come on, you little guys. Take a clue from Virginia and get a life. Give me my life. I want to be old enough to mortify my son while Christmas shopping. I want to be spoiled, too. And cute.

P. S. Jack's mom is cute, too. Almost ninety!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Unexpected Journeys

I did not post last Saturday because I was in the Emergency Room until 3:30 am Saturday morning. I was taken there by ambulance at 11:00 am Friday morning. I am okay now, but the experience taught me that the ER is not for sick people.


Preparing for an unexpected journey

Sometimes Life takes a person on an unexpected journey, one over which he or she has no control. Bilbo Baggins was a quiet-living hobbit who wound up involved in the great war of the Rings. “An Unexpected Journey”, “There and Back Again,” and “And What Happened After” were some of the titles he considered for his story. They all work. The journey was unexpected because Bilbo did not initiate it or desire it. It was part of someone else’s agenda. During the journey, Bilbo wanted to return home. Moreover, when unexpected journeys come to an end, there is something that happens after. Bilbo was so unprepared for his journey he ran out of his house without a handkerchief. That is another characteristic of an unexpected journey. It catches people unawares.

Currently I am on an unexpected journey. It began last summer when I was diagnosed with cancer. It meets all the criteria of Bilbo’s journey in that it is completely unexpected, I want to get back to where I was, and I will have to deal with what happens after. So how does one prepare for an unwanted unexpected journey?

In the book Perlandra by C. S. Lewis, a Martian tells an Earthman of the time he climbed to a mountain pool, the home of a deadly marine creature called hneraki.

“I stood on the shore of Balki, which is the place of most awe in the world. Because I have stood there alone, my heart has been higher, my song deeper all my days. But do you think it would have been so unless I had known that in Balki hneraki dwelled? There I drank life because death was in the pool.”

Because Life has taken me on other unexpected journeys, I have learned a few things. One: I do not like unexpected journeys. Two: People are extraordinarily kind along the way. Three: The key to preparing for an unexpected journey is to choose the destination of the heart. I have decided that whatever the journey, unexpected or not, I want to go to a place where my heart will be higher and my song deeper. I do not know precisely what that means or what it looks like, but that is my destination.

Bilbo Baggins “won” his unexpected journey in that no matter what happened along the way, he held fast to his heart. He was faithful, kind, brave, and resourceful. At the end of his journey, his heart was higher and his song deeper, even in the face of loss and disappointment. That's the other thing about unexpected journeys; sometimes they demand a farewell.

I have learned one more thing. I am not the only one taken on unexpected journeys. It happens to people all the time. This insight, born of experience, has increased my compassion and sympathy for the human condition. It has enlarged my heart for other people. For that reason alone, I am thankful for the unexpected journeys of life.