autumn days

Friday, August 19, 2016

Scan Day

Today is the big scan day after six weeks of chemotherapy for my partner's lung cancer.  This whole health situation can be quite deep, dark, and devastating.  There is a very real possibility of not having much more time with the beloved father of my children.  Today's scan will determine if standard care will impact this particular cancer or if alternatives will be more fully explored.  We've feeling the depths of uncertainty lately.

What if we choose to believe in miracles, to delight in our time together, to find reasons to celebrate and laugh and dance?  That in itself is quite healing.  I can fill myself with delightful energy with a bit of effort, as I have this morning: a hot bath, meditation, singing, a touch of dancing, listening to my happy music (today's choice), and writing.  I count my blessings: children drawing at the kitchen table, music playing, cool air on a hot summer day, clean water, healthy food, loving friends reaching out, children's laughter.  I've filled up with so much light I get to share the extra with my family.  I ask this light to fill my partner and give him hope, to help him open to the wonderful possibilities that await, to believe in miracles, to find the light in the darkness, and to know he will get a more positive diagnosis.

I have no control over my partner's health, his choices, nor his feelings.  He has free will and his own preferences.  I get to be a beam of delight for my own benefit and know this brings some joy to my family.  I get to choose to find the joy in each moment, such as having the privilege to write while my baby sleeps off my body, such a rare gift.  Practicing mindful and intentional joy brings healing to my body, mind, and spirit.  It may even be contagious.  That's what I'm banking on.  Either way, I still win when I live in the moment and count my blessings.  Each moment is a gift.  Being a part of this resilient family is a gift.  Sharing my own presentness is a gift.  For these gifts I give the greatest of thanks.  Blessings!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Reflections at Day Three

A letter written to a friend on day three (June 11, 2016) of my partner's health issues helped me sift through plans, feelings, and goals.

Dearest Momh,

I've found a nanny to work various evenings when we need someone. I've cancelled our yard sale and am donating clothes and supplies to those who can use them.  I'll attend group counseling sessions with my children in August.  We're talking of how to arrange beds so if the kids get sick they won't give it to their daddy.  I'm currently looking forward to the routine of public school.

I feel a disconnect between my partner and I, as there's so much pressure on him to make the right medical choices, to hand off the family business gracefully and cleanly to his brother, to finish putting the new (dream) house together, to then sell the new house, to teach me to do everything he's always done: errands, finances, groceries, long term planning, home maintenance, etc.  He is too focused on the challenges and solutions to focus  on our connection.  Everyone wants to be with him now, though he wants to be productive.  He wants to provide for our futures and make his functional time productive.  He told me the pressures on him are so different than for someone with cancer at age 60 or 70, when their kids are grown.  It's like he's trying to do a lifetime of work to provide on a very short time.

He looks up statistics and stories and knows the reality of long-term illness we are facing.  It's going to be very ugly.  It's hard to be joyful and light for our children when there is such depth of sadness here.  We will get through it intact, though this is intense.  I feel he wants me to be less emotional and I want him to touch me, not just with the back of his hand as he tackles more tasks.  I feel he expects more from me, but I don't know what.  It's likely he's simply at a loss.  I'll ask him again how I may support him (meals, children, good attitude).  This is overwhelming.  I feel sad with the loss of our connection and of our lives together, the plans we'd made, hoped for, invested in.

Treatments are very complicated and confusing, though his cousin the oncologist will call the local oncologist to discuss treatments and clarify motives and get questions answered.  Then he'll start chemo in a couple days.  He says this first round will be the easiest as each attempt is harder on the body and less successful.  He may need a feeding tube eventually to get any nourishment into his body.  Plan for the worst, hold faith and determination to get to the best.  

I'm looking forward to a professional photo session near our home Sunday.  

I'm at a low point, and know I will bounce and float and soar.  The ebb and flow feel more dramatic right now.
The up and down are to be expected.  In my lighter days, still full of emotions and tears, the ascension is awesome.  There is great love, support, and a village to step in for whatever I ask.  I've already asked for help with carpooling to camps this week so my partner can focus on making the most of his time.  He plans to begin chemo in the next couple days and to continue working.

My task is to focus upon the silver lining, the bright spots, the love from those who support and help us, flowers and the bounty of Mother Earth, the laughter of my children, bringing that to my partner, speaking from my heart with respect and gentleness.

Your friendship is such a gift.  Such big blessings.  May you know deep love and abundance and grace too.


Love,
Jennifer

Pantene Beautiful Lengths Hair Donations

I love to grow my hair long and then chop it off every year or so for a good cause.  I donated to Locks of Love for many years, until I found most of their hair donations are sold for money to create wigs for those in need.  Pantene Beautiful Lengths shares all hair donations with women with cancer.  I feel good knowing my hair is helping other women in their own times of need.  I imagine a mom of young children with cancer covering her head with my beloved locks.  My hair lives on with others who are living with cancer, a topic now near and dear to my heart.

First Big Feelings

Through email with a friend I was able to open to my big feelings after getting the first signs of my partner's serious illness.  This was sent June 9, 2016.

Dearest Jenna,

I'm sad and terrified.  I also know great love and support.  I don't want him to leave us anytime soon.  I need and want him here with us.  I intentionally release control and appreciate what I have here in this moment.  I'm so exhausted from several days and nights with very little sleep.  So now I'll pray and meditate and send my partner as much love and light as I can without depleting myself further.  I accept my role as rock and navigator for our family, growing love and strength together.  Thank you for asking how I am.  I am so grateful for you.  Big blessings.

Xoxoxo!
Jennifer

First Signs & Prayers

This letter was sent to loved ones on June 9, 2016.

Dearest Beloved Miracle Makers,

My partner heard today he has swollen lymph nodes in his lungs.  He will soon have a CT scan.  He has known of an unchanging, benign tumor in his chest for six years and has a family history of cancer; his parents passed of lymphoma and multiple myeloma.  
 
I pray for our family (with three young children) to be surrounded by peace, clarity, miracles, white angelic healing light, silver lining, healthy organs, and many more years together.  May we trust this process as we make way for our most benevolent outcome.
 
Aho!  


Blessings and great gratitude,
Jennifer

Aha! Parenting, Story Pirates, & Brains On!

While sharing resources with other parents going through similar challenges, I found the Aha! Parenting website.  One article that really spoke to me during a difficult time was on 12 Things to Remember When Your Child Gets Angry.  Just discovering this one resource made all the difference in managing my own emotions while my child expresses anger.  During these resourceful conversations, I was also introduced to podcasts to entertain the whole family while driving.  My two new favorites are Brains On! and Story Pirates.  What a treasure to share free resources with others that help us parent more patiently and compassionately.  Such gifts. 

Summer in the Neighborhood

We are blessed to live in a neighborhood and to know some great neighbors.  These last couple summers we've taken advantage by hanging out with local friends in their wading pools and sandboxes, on their swing sets and with their animals.  What a treasure to walk to our cost-free local adventures with friends.  Here are some photos of our recent adventures.

Rodent Love

Splashing on hot days

Digging in shady sand

Taking time to journal on a local hike

Neighborhood green space