Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Look Back at One Year's Journey

Okay, so here I am, a year later. One year ago today, I took Little Warrior (who then went by the label "The Happiest Baby in the World") and Bo Peep, and went to playgroup, followed by a trip to the pediatrician for something which surely was nothing ...

And was something.

So, LE, ya wanna wrap up everything you've learned this past year in one pithy post? A few mentions of how you've changed?

I know what "profoundly grateful" means. How could I not? Little Warrior is still alive and looks like a bouncing baby toddler. She is still alive. Last year, that wasn't a sure thing.

I tried to go back and read my blog from the start of last year. I got to the end of February, and stopped. I know too much about what happens in March. It's kind of like seeing a movie multiple times ... you still hope that Shelby is going to wake up from her coma, even though you know she won't. For the rest of my life, I will be able close my eyes, and be back in that doctor's office as he tells that us that the chemo isn't working. "Minimal response." I can be in the surgeon's office as he explains what will happen if he opens her up, and the tumors have spread farther than he's expecting.

I can't read March.

It seems so unbearably cliched to say that this has affected me, changed me. But how could it not.

When I began this blog, high on what I felt was a Road to Damascus experience, I picked I meant no disrespect to those who were already ministers; I was simply excited about beginning the journey to becoming a minister.

I should change to a different url and will, at some time, when I have the time. I'm not currently in seminary and do not have any immediate plans to return. Right now, the idea of opening myself up to others' pain, and their need for my ministering ... I can't imagine it. I am not healed. I know this.

My old vision of God -- well, he and I parted ways. I don't call myself an atheist, or even an agnostic, but the idea of a personal God who sees all and cares just doesn't work for me anymore. To me, I think of "God" as being sight, and we are those who are blind since birth. How do you explain sight to one who has never seen? He will try to put it into his own context, but there is no real context for it, other than what it is. So we try to make sense of it by using things from our context -- Father, Mother, Love, Oneness.

That being said, at night, as I curl up in bed, I have found myself thinking, "I miss God." I cannot, as the song goes, simply let it be a mystery. I don't work that way, I don't think that way. But I will not deny that my heart yearns out for a greater power who loves me and wants good things for me.

I expect that journey to continue.

After Christmas, I sat in my favorite living room chair and looked at my little Christmas village set. It's such a touchstone for time, for me. What will have happened by the time I next bring it out?

Before this past journey, I would say that with great anticipation. What will have happened by the time I next bring it out!

Now, I say it with fear.

This is how I have changed. Before, I loved change. It was all unicorns and rainbows and oooh, what wonderful thing will happen next?

Now, I have learned that change is not necessarily good. And life can be scary.

I already loved my friends, but I have a greater appreciation for the power they have. The power to make you feel not alone. The power to be your brain, when you are frozen. Mine showed up at our hospital room with good food; a binder, filled with different pockets and pads, ready for me to fill up with the overwhelming information I was getting; their own clothes -- warm sweatpants and flannel shirts; and open ears. There was nothing I couldn't say to them. I didn't have to reassure them. I could break down if I needed to; I could laugh if I needed to.

Going to chemo appointments, another friend met me there a couple of times. The purported reason was to keep me company, but the bigger reason was so that she could share the experience. It wasn't just mine and The Husband's painful journey to go through -- our friends did, as well.

Little Things
I have a profound appreciation for what I previously would have considered "little things." I admit, I wasn't much of a card sender. But now I know ... a card in the mail is so much more than a little piece of cardstock. It's a piece of time, a chunk of energy. It says that a person thought of you, bought a card, looked up your address, found a stamp. It is a gentle handpat, coming through your mailbox.

And Little Things that mean nothing ... I have very little patience for petty squabbles. No patience at all for those who enjoy complaining. Change it or get over it.

I have learned that you can't tell what's coming around the bend. If the sun is shining and you don't feel bad, then take advantage of that. Enjoy. Enjoy every minute that you actually can. There will come a time when you cannot manufacture joy. When life is so sad or scary that there is no happiness in your soul. If you can be happy ... do.

Simple, simple, simple
People say lots of things to you, when you go through something sad or traumatic. They mean well.

In the end, it was the simplest things people said, that had the most effect on me. When a friend called and said, "God, this really just sucks!" When another friend, who had lost her son to leukemia told me, with great meaning, "You will live through this."

Real is vastly superior to eloquent.

Having This Blog
This blog has been my place to cry, my place to rail. My place to say the unimaginable things I didn't want to share with anyone, not even myself. I could put them here, and leave them here. I have treated it more like a diary than a conversation; this was deliberate. I am too concerned with others' thoughts of me. It was for this reason that I didn't share it with anyone who knew me in "real life." I knew that I would begin writing what I wanted them to see me writing, rather than truth. I needed a place where I could be brutally true. I felt a need to be brutally true to any future person who might find herself in my situation and discover my blog.

And yet ... I discovered a community. New friends would leave comments on my blog, giving me cheer when I needed it, compassion when I needed that. Faceless, usually nameless friends, with interesting monikers ... I felt they were walking along with me on this journey, shadows to the left and right of me.

And Life Goes On
Several times, as I've been writing this post, I've had to pause. Not to get lost in thought or to gaze, unseeingly into the great void ... Rather, to go chase Little Warrior, who has gone up the stairs, or wrestle away a pack of gum that one of her siblings left out, or soothe Bo Peep, who just got bonked on the head with a lego.

Life goes on. Little Warrior is well, and frequently wreaking havoc. This week, I think she's decided to go early into the Terrible Twos. I lose my patience. I lose my temper. I explain to her, as she tries to climb over the back of a kitchen chair, that I worked Really Hard to try and keep her alive and I Don't Appreciate her attempts to kill herself.

And Then
I laugh.

Obladi, Oblada.


Dan said...

You write -- "I should change to a different url and will, at some time, when I have the time. I'm not currently in seminary and do not have any immediate plans to return."

As someone who changed his blog to a new URI about a year after starting the blog -- it's a pain in the neck, and I don't recommend it unless you really have to. You change URIs and you lose things -- readers, posts, data, patience. Change is not always good -- come to think of it, you say something like that in the post.

Besides, speaking as an ordained UU minister, in our tradition everyone is a minister -- some of us happen to have an MDiv, some of us don't, but we're all ministers (or should be).

My $.02 worth.

Lizard Eater said...

That's really lovely, Dan. Thank you for that.