autumn days

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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.

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