Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unexpected Gifts

To say that it has been stressful around here lately would be seriously understating things I think. My husband likes to say that I have a flair for the dramatic but I am happy to report that most of the drama around here in the past weeks has not really come from me. That's not to say that I purposely create drama, because, believe me, my life seems to provide more than enough without help. It just seems that, though no fault of my own, a lot of that drama tends to center around me... or at least around my liver and lungs. And I am, by no means, saying that any of the drama in the past couple of weeks has been purposefully created by my husband. It hasn't, it's just that recent drama has centered around him and his side of the family. Then throw in a little drama that my car cooked up and daily life with Kylynn (now that girl does create drama on purpose, but she's four and a half and much like her mother was at that age...) and you'll see that there just hasn't been any time for any of my medical drama. And that is okay... or at least, mostly okay. I certainly do not begrudge my husband any of stress or anxiety that goes hand in hand with the situations that he has to deal with and I commend him on how well he is doing with all that has been thrown at him. But I will point out that just because my "stuff" is getting sort of pushed to the back burner doesn't mean that it doesn't creep into my thoughts or that, if we mostly ignore it, my trip back up to Mayo and the very real possibility of a tough surgery will go away. It basically just means that I have been trying to process all of my personal drama on my own. And, like I said, that is okay, or, at least, mostly okay because I generally do process most of that stuff alone. It's just that sometimes I would like the option, the possibility of not doing this on my own...

But, amid all the drama, we received an unexpected and very pleasant surprise yesterday. Amongst all of our other mail there was a plain hand-addressed envelope addressed to me with no return address. When I opened that envelope a check made out to my family, along with a type written paper fell out. The paper explained a little about Coach's Crew Foundation which is an organization that was started by the 5 children of Walter and Helen Barnick to honor them and keep their giving spirits alive. The foundation holds a bowling event every year to raise money for many different organizations such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, National Foundation for Cancer Research, and many other worthy causes. Coach's Crew also will sometimes help individual families, like my own, who are in need of financial assistance. Now, I have to admit that, up until yesterday, I had never heard of Coach's Crew but thank God for these people. What an unexpected blessing! And though I really have no clue how this foundation got my name, it makes me feel so very loved to know that I have so many friends out there that are concerned and have done so much to help me and my family though all of this. If you ever have an opportunity to donate to Coach's Crew Foundation and are able to, please do so and help spread love and hope to others.

It would seem that even on the rainiest day, when the troubles of life threaten to pull you under, if you hang on, a friend will show up to offer you a hand, a hug, and sometimes, unexpected gifts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So much has been going on lately and I have been feeling completely overwhelmed. I recently returned from a check-up at Mayo where I received news that I have two tumors in my liver that are growing. One of these two tumors is lying very close to my stomach and would be very difficult to reach without doing an open surgery. So I return to Mayo in a couple of weeks to meet with my oncologist, a liver surgeon, and an endocrinologist to discuss possibilities and likely schedule a surgery. On top of that, my husband's grandmother has been hospitalized and then yesterday moved to a nursing home. That is hard in itself, but my husband is power of attorney for his grandmother and as such has been having to deal with all the logistics of these changes as well as the emotional aspect. AND my car has been causing us no end of trouble finally resulting today in Lulu (my car) being sent for a time-out at the mechanic's and me driving around a weird smelling rental car. That's all in addition to the normal craziness that goes on around here. It's been quite a week!

As a result of all of the craziness, I have been thinking about and longing for the places that make me feel like my troubles aren't so big. One of those places, one of my favorite places, is The Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Causeway

"is an astonishing complex of basalt columns packed together, whose tops form 'stepping stones' leading from the cliff foot and disappearing under the sea."
The Causeway is beautiful and vast. The sea, at times, comes roaring up and splashing over the stones, constantly washing, yet never washing away, this marvel of nature. That alone can make one and one's problems seem small. For hundreds of years thousands of people have visited The Causeway. They have walked over the same stones that I walked on, gazed out across the same water that I did, carried their own set of troubles to this rocky shore just as I did, and marveled at the grandeur and beauty of it all just as I did. Stopping and thinking about all the people and lives The Causeway has seen and, through its endurance and unchanging nature, linked together also makes me and my own problems seem not so large anymore. And then, The Causeway is a place of legends, legends of giants and how they placed and tread upon the beautiful massive stones. I think it would be very difficult to think about giants and not to feel small.

And so I long to be back in that place of giants. To sit again in The Wishing Chair and cast my troubles and prayers out over the sea. To let the sea spray and wind wash over me and and carry my troubles away. To just sink into those ancient stones and let the enormity and beauty of the place dwarf and humble me. And that is where you will find me tonight, walking where the giants walked and letting my burdens be shrunk and then carried away on the winds that sweep over the coast. And I can't help but think that even on the rainiest day, when my heart is heavy and feeling much too large for my chest, that there are always beautiful and gentle giants, giants of all sorts, that are able to carry me through my troubles.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The past couple of days I have been up at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for a check-up. I am still mentally processing the news I received and will write about it all at a later date.

Tonight, instead, I would like to direct you over to the Karen Dove Cabral Foundation website. Karen is a friend of mine who passed away about 2 years ago after a long courageous fight with breast cancer. Poke around the site a bit. Watch the video about my amazing friend. Check out the information, under the events tab, about the Butterfly Ball, sign-up for more information, and if you can, please attend. Karen was a very special and amazing woman and the foundation set up in her honor and memory is a for a fabulous cause, helping young mothers who are battling breast cancer. Spread the word around if you can about the foundation and the Butterfly Ball, I really want this first event for the foundation to be a big success!

Oh, and are you wondering why butterflies? Butterflies are very special to Karen's family and friends. There is a beautiful story about Karen and butterflies that I will share another time, but until then know that whenever those who knew Karen see a butterfly hovering near we feel that Karen's spirit and love are close by as well.

Even on the rainiest day there is the possibility of butterflies, with wings as graceful and beautiful as a dear friend's smile.