Sunday, July 25, 2010


WEEP: to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears. 
CRY:  shed tears, with or without sound.

This summer has been unusual and intense. My husband, brother, aunt and a close friend all were diagnosed with cancer. I have seen cancer at its best and worst. If there is such a thing as "best" for cancer.

Oddly, my last practicum was with the American Cancer Society. I had to start my practicum at the beginning, with the patients having just received the diagnosis and starting their treatment planning. I progressed through all the stages next, treatment, recovery and palliative care. Then finally I ended with Hospice and death.

None of the phases was easy. I watched and tried to counsel families through their shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. I listened. Mainly that's all I could do, or pat a hand or dry a tear. Sometimes I cried along with them, crossing that clinical/professional boundary. I could not help it, as their pain was so fresh and raw.

Now I know what it is to walk in the shoes of those families. I have been angry, depressed. I have bargained with God. I have accepted the present as it is, as it has to be. I have denied my fears and feelings at times. At other times I have crossed that "clinical boundary"  because I cannot be clinical with my own family.

There is a part of me that can handle the gross anatomy of cancer. I can see the wounds without flinching, I can handle the vomit and cleanup. I can give injections to the hubster, feed him by a tube, watch as they pull all his teeth. I can hold his hand as he struggles with the physical pain. Tubes don't bother me, needles, syringes and changing bandages, just part of the daily battle. I can be clinical to a necessary point.

However, my undoing, several times, has been kindness. I have wept very little during this horrible, terrible, worst summer of my life. A few times I wept out of exhaustion and fear, but not often. The times I have cried though, that is different.
I have cried when kindness has struck me unaware. So many people have come to support us. So many prayers have been said. Gifts of food, money, but more importantly, gifts of an individual's presence have broken my heart with gratitude. Every hug, handpat or expression of love has brought me to tears. Just this morning the nurse was so kind, I started tearing up as she gently handled my husbster, trying not to hurt him anymore.

The doctors who kept pursuing his symptoms until they found the cause: a pulmonary embolism that left untreated would possibly have killed him, made my misty eyed each time they walked the long walk to his room just "to see if he needed anything".  My family calling, emailing, facebooking daily to make sure I was/am OK, brings tears to my eyes. My brother and brother in law building a handrail on the steps in 90 degree weather very nearly slayed me. My mother in law coming for weeks or months at a time to sweep and clean and help in any way she can. Friends from grade school and high school praying for me and my husband daily. Coworkers  checking in to let me know I am not forgotten and am missed. Neighbors mowing the yard and bringing tomatoes. I could go on for pages.

I could have wept with despair this summer. I could have been angry and railed at the unfairness of life. But instead, gratitude has broken my heart and let the tears flow. I have wept because I have seen the power of love.

Thank you everyone. I can never repay what you have given me. I am forever and always, grateful.

1 comment:

Katie! said...

When I was preparing to get married, one of the most horrifying things to me was the concept of bridal showers. How disgusting, I thought, to invite your friends to a party and expect them to bring you things! It is not even your birthday! I found the whole thing incredibly presumptuous, intrusive, and wholly unpleasant.

That is, I did until a married friend told me that these showers are a way of contributing to the community. Everybody pitches in to get the new couple set up, because no one can do it all by themselves.

Your situation is an even better example of the importance of community. We cannot do these things by ourselves, my dear marymartha, we were not built for it. We help each other and keep each other going in hopes that, someday, when we need the help, our community will be there for us.

We are all here for you. In spirit, in words, in money, in food, in rides, in hugs, in prayers, in love.