Jesus, He Is So Good.

God is good

It is hard to believe the fifth month mark of Sean’s death is approaching. That day. The most significantly traumatic, most devastating day I have yet experienced in my 37 years of life. How do I feel? I ask myself this question daily. How does one feel when everything in one moment, one day, one second, completely turns a life upside down and shakes the foundations of everything we invested in, built our lives upon, and dreamed of, radically goes sideways and all I can do is stand in awe. Stand in awe of God’s goodness, yet stand in awe that this life is really mine and this has really happened to me. To me. It is me. This is my life, my story, and my witness of how in the most impossible situation, there is One who is able. He is able to help me get out of bed in the morning and whip up three lunches for school. He is able to listen to me talk my thoughts out repeatedly, obsessively, and dramatically in the fashion that I do so. I have tried to numb this. I have tried to escape this, but in all honesty, there is no escape and there is no way to numb the un-numb-able. To exist has never been an option. I don’t exist for the sole purpose of existence. There is a purpose and a plan and I graciously accept it, however I have not been doing this solo. Nor would I be able to do so alone. I have no words to express the impact of this amazing village that has intricately wrapped its arms around me and my three children and chose to do this life together with us in the grossness of death, as well as in the sweetness of life. And this village is not untouchable or out of reach, but they are the voice, the touch, the sounds of love that has allowed for me to go forward and not stay in the trenches of grief or bitterness. They are tangible. I don’t believe anyone can make it through life on their own, as a lone ranger. There is no way. I stand in absolute thankfulness of what I have as well as what has been taken away from me. I can not understand it. I don’t know if I ever will. Nevertheless, I remain thankful. I refuse for discouragement, defeat, or despair to walk through the doors of our home and rob us of what goodness we do have. We have lost so much, but have gained more. It seems so messed up. It honestly does. I close my eyes at times as I lean myself against the walls of our home and ask, “God, how am I to do to this? I feel so unqualified.” Yet, He is so faithful. There is no rhyme or reason. He is just so good. He allows in this time for me to continue to dance, regardless the circumstances that lie behind and before me. 

Image Credit: Pieter Breugel: Scene With Dance Around The May Pole

Don’t Let Me Down.

It is funny how opposites attract. Really. They do. Often my  friends that I get along with most are the opposite of who I am. That was who Sean was. The opposite. He loved this one song during his healing process journey, and what would I do? I would roll my eyes at it. However, now a different version of someone else sings the same song and yes, I am like a-ha…this is a great song. We were so different….for real opposites. But now this song that ties in the opposites into the positives not that we were ever negatives, but kind of, rings a different meaning. I am not let down by God. I won’t be and I could never be. This song, sung by a different artist, was a huge theme song to Sean during a very difficult time in his life…and now here I am, listening to the very same song, but sung in a different style, saying it to Jesus, come on…don’t let me down, You are so faithful. I know He shows Himself faithful, I know the Scriptures, I am not ignorant, for they have been my food day and night. However isn’t it fascinating one song could mean so much to one individual and and nothing to another until sung in a different way? Sung with a different urgency or passion, or even a different desperateness. However, here I am. Empty. Ready. Determined. Unshakeable. Ready for the darkest process I have yet to encounter. I am not a runner. I never have been. I am all about let’s get down to business….and business is ready to turn my world upside down…but I am here, arms up in surrender. I am ready to get down to business. Jesus, I trust you. Don’t let me down despite the frailties of my mind. You are able and so am I in you. For real. I am now the one in need of a miracle.

Cemented Heart.

sk_murcln7

The ice princess, now cemented heart, about to freak out on the innocent and the translucent. I just want some relief, whatever that may look like. I don’t know if it is near or far, but the feelings of a trapped animal are all too familiar. I want out. I want out of the pain, the grief, the disturbance of this reality that I did not ask for. I want out. There is no way out, only in and through. Do I have the energy or stamina to commit to this process? In the natural, no freaking way, however, I chose a path in which I wanted the supernatural for everything, so this is absolute reliance on the Creator, not me. I can’t. I just can’t. I have nothing, but in Him, I have everything. I submit, I surrender, I give up. I really do. I don’t have one ounce of any thing, but nothing to give. I am D. O. N. E. Seriously. My hair is always clean, but there just might be one day it aint. That’s right, I just used improper English. Do I care? No. I don’t. My house may have lego here and there. Yesterday that would have made my whole world crumble…today…I don’t care. I really don’t. Step on it. That is what I am doing. Stepping on lego bodies, lego cars, lego pieces, I DON”T CARE! I am not in the head space to clean, to sweep, sweep, sweep, I am freaking done. Let this process begin. I have nothing to lose. I have already lost what meant so much to me. Let’s get down to business Jesus. I am ripped, wrecked and ready to roll. Despite it all, as Sean would have said to me at one time, I am still the greatest.

Beauty and the Beast.

death-and-the-woodcutter-yes

I want to scream, I want to dream, yet the extreme of this life has taken me further down a path I did not view or seem as one in which I would ever, if even I tried, to be ready for. Why? I don’t know. I know nothing, yet I know lots. It is odd. How can I sit and plan, yet really, what is it I am planning for? I laugh. Yet I cry. I do both. Is this a normalcy? Perhaps. This is my new normal. One in which  I have to embrace. There is no running from it. I have to go through it. I thought before the wilderness was a beast, but this new endeavour is beast part two. If only the soundtrack to my life could be as beautiful as that of Beauty and the Beast, but in this moment, who is the beauty and whom is the beast? There is no difference, for I am both. Both beauty and beast, wrestling through the pages of this chapter I find myself aligned with, but not by choice. I did not choose this, nor would I ever have. This was brought on only by the realms of this broken earth and I alone stand alone in hopes alone for an understanding that only Christ alone will be able to express to me in a way that I alone will fully get. My crashing point? Perhaps. However, I continue to crawl through this thick mud like it is a clarity, and at this beautiful moment, I can not even kid myself.

Image Credit: Jean Francois Millet: Death and the Woodcutter

Mascara down my face.

Ready? Am I? I don’t know much of much these days, but I hear the question. Ready? Who is it asking me this question? Again, I don’t know. We would often say, ‘It is what it is’, which transformed to a ‘It is what I say it is’, to now a ‘It is what I don’t know what it is.’ I stand expressionless in front of the mirror and habitually reapply the lipstick I feel more comfortable in than in my own skin. Hang up. It is the colour I wear. Hang up. I have been hung up and I have hanged up. The indifference of the emotional with the physical married together with the spiritual has become this outlet passed away with the essence of everything concrete I rested my head on. Am I grounded? Kind of? Am I solid? Maybe? Am I out of control? Have I ever been in control? I question the questions and answer the answers with more questions, because my hands are emptied with only the residue of debris, like gun powder of absolutes I was so certain were the obvious of the obvious. Last night woke me from a reality of a certainty that this seaside view doesn’t come without challenges. I have no strength to fight a good fight and march the grand march, however I do have enough breath to breathe by this fire as I lie my weary soul and bathe in its heat. I have nothing to give. I have preciously nothing. Am I ready to fully walk this walk and talk this talk? Not at all. However, as I bask in the heat from the only who can be trusted, I cannot be moved by this situation. I refuse to be moved by the results of this perfect storm and the devastation brought down on us viciously and without mercy, I just can not be moved. I wipe my eyes with my muddy sleeves and stare the adversary in the face with my limited strength, limited vision, and my limited understanding, with my rouge coloured lips, and continue this undertaking, regardless the cost, oh God, please Lord, show me some mercy.

Soft Place To Land.

When the waves threaten to over take or the momentum of a spiraling out of control-ness washes ashore to the very essence of my waking mind, I stand still. I stand very still. Pulse ringing in my ears, heart beating in my throat; I am absent of anything relative or anything present. I am only aware of the still standing, and the standing so still. But when the ground begins to shake and the  foundations my hands have gripped – loosen, scatter, and break apart, I realize the monstrous wave I was waiting for to take me down, crept up behind me unexpectedly, knocking, flashing, and twisting me endlessly. A breathless act and a merciless pull, I release myself into its currents and chambers, praying continuous for a soft place to land.

Keep moving to be stable.

This song means more to me than any other during this journey we are walking through. That is just it…walking through. One of the most amazing lyrics in it is ‘I’ll keep moving to be stable.’ This song takes me back to Ft. Langley days, Trinity days, Southgate days and rapidly transforming itself currently into the present moment of this day…running around doing the things I need to – to be stable. I hear this throughout my morning, afternoon, and into the early evenings…I just can’t stop moving. It is what seems to keep me stable during the time in my life which seems the most unstable I have ever known.

First Aid Kit.

I am continually impressed by how music plays can on the stings of my heart when welcomed. How it can pull out the lyrics hidden beneath the fibers of my very being, gently unwinding, politely exposing and then reminding me of the current chord I seem to have immersed myself in. A few years ago I was introduced to The First Aid Kit and I thought their album was nice. However, that was where I left it at. Nice. Today, though, I had the children shushed in the vehicle and told them I love this song before it even finished. Then I took ownership, which can be so annoying to some, by telling my kids, THIS IS MY SONG!!! They weren’t allowed to talk or move as I drove down King Ed in absolute awe of how a song could pin point so preciously the moment within the moment. To keep on keeping on and not taking the easy road. Hopefully there are others too, who find songs to the soundtracks of their lives. To remind or to encourage what they are going through or coming out of. May none of us choose to take the easy roads paved temptingly before us. May we keep on keeping on. There is just no time to give in or to give up.

For whom the bell tolls.

The monk by the sea

Will there ever be relief? My suffocated heart, a weathered compass, blindly guides me into the radical-ness of this storm. Salt water on my tongue, salt water in my troubled eyes. It is salt water who grips me, grieving me endlessly. To be body-less in its entity would be escapism beyond my reach. To morph myself- I the water, the water I. Perhaps with a systematic grace and grit, a southern kind of graciousness this north western girl could mimic. Yet I hear in the distance the ringing of a bell, for whom does this bell toll? Is it for me? I whisper. Emptied of all control.

Photo credit: Caspar David Friedrich – Der Mönch am Meer

Deep waters.

water

It is unfortunate a month goes by and the words and motions that I have gone through are trapped underneath the blankets of every smile, kind gesture, innocent prayer, loving embrace, and unimaginable compassion given to us by so many. Perhaps trapped is not the best word to use, but these very things have indeed been stored deep inside my heart, protecting, encouraging, and equipping me. There have been hours in which I have had Mahalia Jackson playing throughout my house while sobbing at the kitchen sink. There have been moments when in the shower I have burst out in tongues, praising God for His goodness despite not understanding the reports or the results in our hands. As I have layed on the hard tiles of our floor, and stared aimlessly, praying my children to never find me in such a place of vulnerability, absolute loss, or in a state of complete devastation. There have been times of such darkness in which I prayed for the Rescuer to rescue, the One who guides to just guide.

It was July 24th, exactly four months ago we found out it was cancer and three weeks later told it was not only a large mass in the colon, but had spread to the liver and the lungs making it stage IV colon cancer.

After getting off the phone with our naturopath, I stared out the kitchen window and realized that life was going to be forever different. A movie I would have turned off or a television show I would have switched. In life, we can’t turn it off nor can we switch it. We just do it. As I looked down at my hands, I took a mental photograph of them, for they were going to experience a new way of life, as well. Chopping, juicing, beet and carrot stained side effects, only one in a place of transition can get. Sean came down the stairs and I looked at him from the kitchen sink and told him what Mrs. Ewing had said. She said, “Until we are able to see him, juice vegetables, minimum fruits, mostly greens, go vegan, stay away from sugar and anything processed.”

Morning juice, afternoon juice, snack juice, dinner juice, evening juice, something just because juice, we juiced like crazy the first three months. Sean began to lose weight, but this was solely because he was no longer stopping off at Tim Hortons for a large double-double with Timbits or at the 7 eleven for a Coke is it and a package of superior Joe Louie’s. His skin began to clear, his energy levels completely changed, and his eye whites were whiter than I had ever seen them to be. He began to grow hair on his face, which was thick and bristly, and hair began to grow thick on his legs and lower back. What was happening? In absolute amazement of these sudden changes taking place in his body in only two months, we thought for sure his body was on the road to healing. We met with the cancer clinic oncologist who didn’t seem too concerned about his new found energy, happy spirit, or furry body, but more interested in getting him on the highest dose of chemotherapy right away and having an appointment to have a port put in his body. Two years. With chemo, he would only have two years. Um. This didn’t really seem to make any sense to me. Was I sad? No. In shock? No. I believed God was in control and leading us somewhere, but not too sure of where. We told the oncologist we were going to be doing an integrated approach with natural medicines as well. He right away shook his head and couldn’t understand why we would spend such money on things not proven to help extend a person’s life, when all the chemo and drugs were free. After much more blood work, Sean’s numbers were showing the cancer was aggressive and the doctor from Integrated Health phoned recommending he begin the vitamin C Intravenous treatments that day, so he did.

September 22nd Sean had his port installed. It was a crazy day. I remember feeling queasy about what was going to be surgically placed in his body. To this day, I still have no idea what it looks like or how it functions, because just the thought of it causes my legs to go numb and I want to faint. SO….the next day was his three hour stint of chemo. He was quite sick and vomited throughout the process, while a woman beside him having chemo too ate a chocolate bar. Sean walked home to a mess. A dishwasher was being installed and one problem after the next, the kind gentleman didn’t leave our house until quite late. We ended up ordering in food. Sean was able to eat toast and miso soup, but weakly made his way up to our room to sleep with his chemo baxter bottle hooked up to him, pumping faithfully every hour into his body. The next few days were absolutely insane, no in fact, the next few weeks were the most difficult I have ever endured. Do I remember them? Yes. I have a photographic memory, but what my memory chooses to remember is another thing. I remember the mouth like Cameron Diaz’s on the “substitute” doctor as she showed kindness to Sean when after two rounds of chemo saying she recommends he takes a break from chemo to get his mind right. He was unrecognizable spiritually to me and emotionally. Physically he was my corpse husband barely holding on to anything, but the blanket around his body. I remember the smell of the hospital entrance and the hand sanitizer that only draws be back to any previous times of entering a hospital and the nameless faces of those of hopelessness waiting in the room with us, as if we were all cattle going in for the slaughter. I remember the sounds of my shoes walking in the changing of the season. The dewy sound of my distressed oxfords as they hit the pavement and the squishing of soggy leaves that had fallen from the night before. The driest summer to be recorded, fall was welcomed with a faint embrace. My sister and I had joked how it was such a summer of sadness and shortly before hand Sean had preached that last year was such a time of death for us, with so many loved ones passing, that this year was going to be a year of life. I began to question this with his diagnosis. However four months later, we have experienced more life than we have ever in the last 10 years we have been married. There has been a unity in which man made strength could not possess. We have been blessed by a community we have loved, but have never known how love expresses itself in such a mosaic kind of way. The love of God, the love of man, the love of a brother, a sister, a stranger, has reshaped our whole way of thought and existence. This love is bringing life and healing in areas where there was no life or health. After one bad report of the next, I began to wonder if I was experiencing -on an incredibly small scale-post-traumatic stress disorder. I could not handle one more report; I could not face whispering one more prayer of hope, or anticipating the words that were going to spill out of the doctor’s mouth after he took a deep breath with a report of some sort of Sean’s in his hands giving a finite prediction of his timeline.  I really couldn’t handle the thoughts that raced through my head and swallowed me whole as I drowned in endless negative reports and contradictions of what I believed to be truth.

But Jesus, He does things in ways that benefits us and gives Him the glory. There has been a mirage of events, God happen chances in the last months in which I am endeavoring to record, for it is important for us to not forget His benefits, however the decisions we have chosen together to make, make sense for us. We are seeing results that are bringing hope and faith and our belief still remains the same, that there is a bigger picture. What that looks like, we don’t know yet, however, what we do know, is God’s hand is at work and we continue to remain His humble servants doing all things unto Him. His promise says when we go through deep waters, He will be with us. As we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. When we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up; the flames will not consume us.