autumn days

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Arriving Early

Arriving early is new to us.  As homeschoolers we've had more leisurely schedules for the majority of the week.  Now that we are waking early for public school all week, we are all accustomed to rising in the dark and getting started on the day.  Instead of strolling in on time or late for activities, we are discovering the thrill of arriving early to socialize, meet new people, catch up with old friends, to sit, to rest, to laugh, to play together.  I do look forward to a time in my life when I will get enough sleep, when I can sleep in until I'm fully rested.  (A part of me thinks it may be complete fantasy to believe I'll ever be fully rested again, yet it is a creation that brings me comfort.)  Until then, this time we have is such a gift.  I treasure these new experiences with my children.

Layers of the Earth and Atmosphere

Last year as part of our cooperative classical education, we were privileged to create the layers of the earth out of clay and the layers of the atmosphere on paper.  What a wonderfully simple and tactile activity!  My children continue to sing about these layers whenever the mood strikes them.  Songs and creative science projects are such gifts in our lives.

Inspirational Magazine Quotes

I was privileged to find some awesome quotes in some random magazine about a year ago.  These continue to come to me, help me to step boldly into who I am and where I am, to restfully settle into my moments, into my journey, and to smile.  May you also take comfort in these words.  Blessings!

Gardening with Our Babe and All

Time in the garden is so wonderfully healing and grounding for my children and me.  Last summer I made very little time for digging my hands into our little plot.  A year ago our family had a baby and this summer we began our journey through cancer.  Despite the times I've weeded and planted with a touchy feely baby on my back, our garden time has been slim.  Our garden is forgiving and patient.  Even in these autumn months, she continues to share foods we love: apples, beets, kale, cabbage, tomatoes.  We are thankful for the bounty to consume and share.  We are thankful for the gifts of Mother Earth and know she is working and resting as she eagerly awaits our intentional touch and connection.

Our Biggest Balance

I've been seeing the similarities between birthing and dying these last couple weeks.  I have had the privilege to birth three children into our lives.  There was the anticipation, the anxiety, the letting go of everything else, timelessness, the physical pain that feels as if it may never end, the sleeplessness and constant movements to attempt to find a less painful position.

My partner is now experiencing these same details, yet instead of hours or days, he has been in this process for weeks, perhaps months.  His lung cancer is aggressive and relentless, the number one deadliest cancer we humans know.  He is being birthed into his next existence before our very eyes.  Our children witness some of this, sitting with their own sadness and concern, yet returning resiliently each time to their creative play.  I am so thankful they get to step into and out of this painful experience, still making space to be such joyous children.  I also get to step out of this experience from time to time, such as when I take a walk to help my exhausted child sleep in a stroller... so I can sand and paint the deck.  My partner does not get to step out of his experience.  He is trapped in his body.  Through my children I see the possibility of balance, of supporting my children, my dying partner, and myself.  This is the biggest balancing act I've ever attempted, or perhaps it just feels so intense because we are in the thick of it all now.

My dear partner has completed brain and lung radiation, after the chemo did nothing but infuriate the cancer.  Before he completes his series of radiation treatments on his spine, he will begin taking an immunotherapy, a drug that will attempt to teach the body to fight off cancer.  Technology and cancer treatments have come so far so quickly, yet never as fast as we would prefer.  He has lost at least 30 pounds, much mobility, and some of his ability to use his voice.  We already see two new tumors lying below the skin.  These will not be treated directly with radiation.  We are putting our hopes into immunotherapy.  This living in limbo lasts years for others, though this kind of cancer is moving on fast forward.  We are holding on and letting go at the same time, holding each other as much as possible, as we are ripped from each other day by day.

We are so very grateful for the supportive, loving friends and family who stick with us, who ask how things are going and expect an honest response.  We are so thankful for our human family and the rest that lies in relationship.  We are thankful for the wonderful times we've had together, these beautiful children we were so privileged to create, and the ways we get to be together at this phase of our human journeys.  We are thankful for this day together and the wonder of what this one day may hold: the laughter of children, the holding of hands, the massage of numbing feet, the neck kisses, the tears, the holding on and letting go, the connections that last forever.  We are thankful for this day we get to spend together.

Between Two Ends

The fine balance of living with cancer.  For me, it feels like teetering somewhere between the ends of complete denial and total devastation.  Lung cancer sucks in so many ways.  Most patients die by not being able to breath.  For more than a month my partner has struggled many times each day to breath.  Creating a balance between two vast ends of emotion is quite the task.  Intentionally raising my children keeps my head above water in this big ocean of unknowns.  My daily practices of appreciation, thanking others for what they bring into our lives, mindfulness, connecting with my lineage, finding the silver lining, wanting to be the best wife and mother for my family, praying for and looking for miracles, these all help me maintain my daily balance.

As my partner has decreasing energy and time, I step in to accept more tasks.  My previous task was managing everything for our children, along with sharing many household tasks.  My partner tackled errands, finances, paperwork, repairs, and his outside job.  Mowing the lawn has become a wonderful physical outlet for me.  Today, it is my task to acquire a CPAP machine that forces air into his airway.  The oxygen machine simply isn't enough anymore.  This little task frightens me.  I am not as grand a negotiator or devil's advocate as my practiced partner.  And yet I am needed and I will step into the tasks that come to me.  I can do this.  I will do this.  I get to do this.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Granny Privilege

Wee four-month-old Charlotte and I got to visit my granny in Utah last winter.  Granny is at the time in her life when she is sharing her life's bounty with others.  As a baby, her mother had given her a beautiful silver finger ring.  She has held onto this ring until now, nearly 90 years later.  On this visit, she generously gifted it to our little Charlotte.  What an incredibly tiny yet extraordinary gift.  What a privilege it is to have the ring my great grandmother gave to her baby, my children's great grandmother.  

My partner met some of his grandparents when he was a toddler.  Only Hannah got to meet her daddy's mama, not his dad.  Her siblings did not get to meet their daddy's parents.  I understand the great privilege I have of meeting all four of my grandparents, having both my parents still alive, and spending this extended time loving on my elderly grandmother.  Since my granny's husband's death a few years ago, we have traveled to visit one another at least once each year.  My partner loves my granny so deeply, his eyes moisten each time we say goodbye to her.  As we talk with my granny on the phone and send her postcards, we all look forward to hugging her again, as this ring hugs my daughter's finger.