What about Saturday?

I think about that first Saturday.  When no one knew that Easter was coming.  When every certainty evaporated.  The “what now?” had to have been suffocating.  The not knowing is always the hardest part.  Not believing is almost worse.

I am pretty sure that no one believed what was about to happen next.  I think that -because no one was gathered around to watch the miracle unfold.  The activity surrounding the tomb was all based on what was humanly possible.  A guard – to ward off possible body theft followed by “miraculous” alternative facts.  Women – bringing spices to dress the body of the dead.

It is puzzling that no one was gathered at the tomb waiting with hopeful expectation – given the Angel’s statement to the women – “HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID.”  The best “TOLD YOU!” of all time.

All of the evidence.  Miracle on MIRACLE.  None of it convincing enough to override the human instinct to only believe what we can see and understand RIGHT NOW.  THAT Saturday, it seems like every eyewitness forgot that Lazarus strolled on out.   That the widow’s son sat up and chatted.

The current sorrow appears to wipe out every inch of previous wonder.

No judgement here.  I think we have all had those kinds of Saturdays.

It is so much easier to focus on what is humanly possible than to wait on a miracle.  Why this is true, I do not know.  It has just been my observation and experience.  This may be why we quickly reach the end of our proverbial ropes.  What we can’t work out for ourselves – we assume can’t be done.

In the face of miracle on MIRACLE.

A bump in the road can jolt us into crippling amnesia.

But.  Easter. Comes. Anyway.

What would it have looked like if everyone who had experienced/witnessed a miracle was gathered at the tomb all Saturday long?  Waiting.  Believing.  Knowing that the deepest joy of all time was a sunrise away?  Sorrow for a night.  Joy in the morning.

What if we lived like that?  Recognizing that we have experienced miracle on MIRACLE.  Facing our inevitable Saturdays with expectancy that when human possibility reaches a stand still – be on the lookout for the MIRACLE that is about to go down.

Sorrow for a night.  JOY in the morning.  Never forget that Saturday gives way to Easter morning.

 

 

 

Ride

Tck…tck…tck…tck…cha-CHUNK.  A roller coaster climbs.  Just the thought of that sound makes my entire body clench.  It is really the worst kind of anticipation.  Dread…dread…dread…dread…DOOM.  My favorite part of a roller coaster is exiting the ride.  Even if it is on Jello legs.

“The Beast” is located at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio.  It is the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.  It is also the site of one of the most phenomenal errors in judgment that I have ever made.  From the line, all the way to the point of boarding, you can see what you (naively) believe is the entire ride.  The actual truth is that the ride covers more than 35 acres.  What you are looking at is only the first half.  While the average coaster ride is completed in just under two minutes, “The Beast” takes over four.  Isn’t that nice?The reason that it goes for so long is the most diabolical feature of all.  It has a second chain lift hill, LARGER than the first.  At the exact moment when the ride begins to slow, and you think that you have survived to see another day, you find that you are actually beginning a SECOND tck…tck…tck… up a monstrous incline.  NOW you can see what you were blithely unaware of as you boarded this death machine, and each “tck” reinforces the fact that you have zero options to save yourself.

That second chain lift hill made me irrationally angry.  I had already paid my dues.  I did NOT sign up for this.  The people who designed this were EVIL.  How could they expect MORE out of me?  My body went rigid. Preemptive rigor mortis.  The g-force inside of me far surpassed anything that was happening on the outside.  I resisted every drop, twist, and turn.

The next day, I felt like I had been in a car wreck.  Like I was driving a Mini-Cooper and I was T-boned by a semi.

I can’t help but compare this experience to life.  You think you know what you signed up for at the beginning.  You calculate the risks from what you can see.  You put yourself in the seat, acknowledging that there will be difficulties.  You power your way through.  Finally, you begin to relax, as you believe that you have made it through the hard parts.

Then along comes that second chain lift hill.  Bigger, scarier, completely unfamiliar.

You can rage at the machine.  You can resist with every molecule in your body.  You can become as rigid as cement.

You will feel like you have been in a car wreck.

OR,

You can acknowledge that you are afraid, and guess what – that is perfectly OK.  You can embrace the unknown as simply that – not previously known – not pending apocalyptic doom.  You can attempt to enjoy what is decidedly out of your comfort zone. Raise your arms, let out that half scream/half laugh.  Unclench.  Remind yourself that you are not strapped to a runaway boxcar – even if it feels that way.  There is a track supporting and directing your every move.  Which, by the way, it has been doing since the beginning.  Just because you felt like you were making an informed choice to participate in part A – and part B came as a shock – doesn’t mean that you were ever in charge of the ride.  You aren’t driving.  They don’t call it a “drive.”  They call it a “ride.”  It feels out of control because you don’t have a steering wheel and brakes.  Guess what – you never did.

Relax.  Ride.  Look around you.  You are not riding alone.

 

 

Work in Progress

Recently, I came across an article titled “My Name is Cancer”  or “Call me Cancer” or something like that.  Truth is, I was so appalled by the idea I scrolled past as fast as my index finger could go.  I can’t speak to the article – clearly – as I read nothing but the title (and even that is up for debate).  So, no offense if you wrote it.

Why was I appalled then?  My identity is not, and will never be, cancer.

It will never be cardiac block or Graves’ Disease or the common cold either.

This experience is real, and it is tough.  But, it is not me.

I believe that the defining moments in a life should be the things that resonate with your soul.   The times when you feel most authentically you.  When they placed my children in my arms?  THOSE were defining moments.  I can tell you another good one.  I was a sophomore in high school, and I spent my spring break working with underprivileged children in downtown Oakland.  THAT was a defining moment.  I can identify these experiences as defining moments because they were instances of clear recognition of the divine calling on my life.  I was obviously wired to be a mother to many.  These  were great AH-HA moments.

Getting cancer is not an AH- HA moment – it is an Oh-Crap moment.

I think that perhaps this is what happens to some folks.  The Oh-Crap moments overshadow the awareness of  divine calling.  The tragedies become the defining moments.  Life was never meant to be a tragedy.  In life you WILL have troubles.  Jesus said this – immediately followed by – BUT FEAR NOT.  Bad things happen.  Don’t lose sight of the divine calling on your life.  You were born to fill a hole that only you can fill.

I prefer to think of getting cancer as a REFINING moment.  Refining gets rid of unwanted elements and makes improvements.  It is never a bad time to get rid of the things that creep in to hold you back.  It is always a good day to make improvements.

Call me a work in progress.  Always progress.  I’m OK with that.

 

 

 

Seasons

When you are standing at bus duty, in August, in Georgia, mentally willing hundreds of students to GET ON THE BUS, as sweat pools in every crease and dimple – it can be difficult to remember that in only a matter of months you will require 15 layers and an electric blanket to stand in the exact same spot.  Isn’t it strange that, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, it is so easy to think that every uncomfortable circumstance is permanent?

One year, I had a particularly difficult group of students.  Not difficult like too chatty.  Difficult like, and I quote: “Why you always messing with me?  You best leave me alone. You hear me?  Do you hear me???”  This was one student’s daily response when asked to pick up a pencil and get to work.  DAILY.  When the morning announcements stated that it was the EIGHTH day of school – I was so stunned that I just cried.  I thought it was at least the EIGHTIETH day.  It was the year that would not end.

Time is not as straightforward as it seems on paper.

I have never been a good patient.  I am, however, an excellent impatient.

It has been 23 days since I had surgery.  A bilateral mastectomy.  Miles of stitches.  A virtual train track across my entire chest.  Uncomfortable?  Yes, indeed.  I have been mentally willing the healing process to GET ON THE BUS!  It seems like there is NO WAY that it has been 23 days – more like 230.  I wonder if there will ever be a day when I have no pain, and I can go back to work and have my life back.

Then I remember several things.

This is a season.  Seasons change.  Not overnight.  In due time.

I don’t want my life BACK.  I want my life FORWARD.  I want to learn everything that I can from this experience.  I want to remember that in the midst of difficult circumstances beautiful and wonderful things happen.  The year that I had such a difficult class ultimately included some of my most favorite students.  It wasn’t an all or nothing proposition.  And August in Georgia – which is unbearable for anyone who doesn’t enjoy feeling like a marinated shrimp on the barbie – eventually gives way to a spectacularly beautiful fall.

These hard days are not permanent.  They are also not solely difficult.  They are filled with love and support – hope and courage – faith and joy.  Additionally, August – even in Georgia – is filled with expectation of new beginnings.  The school year rolls out from there.  If you can remember (while you are sweating profusely) what all lies ahead, it can be exciting to anticipate.

In the midst of this somewhat uncomfortable season, I am more than excited to know that I have a whole life ahead of me.

 

 

 

 

Impossible

I have always loved the Olympics.  Always.  I used to dream of participating one day.  When it became clear that I was not going to make the US track team simply by donning  a beanie (sporting the Olympic rings) while I ran around the block (winded), I began to dream about attending the Olympics.

The Winter Olympics were in full swing three weeks ago when I had a bilateral mastectomy.  With all of my vivid Olympic imaginings, I can honestly say that I never pictured watching from a hospital bed.

My favorite commercial during the games featured a series of amputees participating in high level activities – including Paralympic sports.  The tag line was “Start your impossible….”  I felt such kinship with those amputees.  I, too, had lost part of my body in a rather shocking and stark fashion.  I, too, was left with sizable scars.  I, too, refused to feel like a victim.

Now, I am not suggesting that losing your leg or arm is on the same playing field as having a double mastectomy.  But, I am here to tell you that I do, in fact, feel like an amputee of sorts.  An amputee without a sporting category at the Paralympics.  Although I think that I am now perfectly built for that horrifying sled ride – “Skeleton” – where they flop face down on a toboggan and careen down the mountain.  The flopping would now be seamless – and presumably aerodynamic.

I may not be recognizable as an amputee, but I am totally down with the whole idea of “Start your impossible….”  With faith, everything is possible.  EVERYTHING.  So, now my dreams include heroic endeavors that may not put a medal around my neck – but may make a difference in the life of another.  The draw of the Olympics is coming together for a common purpose.  Maybe I have always loved that because that is how I believe life should be?

 

Scan

I always thought that the word “scan” meant to quickly take a look at something.  “Scan” this document for errors.  “Scan” the crowd for where they are sitting.  A glance.  A speedy visual intake.  Fast.

When you have cancer, and the doctor says “scan”, speed is the very last definition that suits.  You hear the word and time down warps into somewhere between standing still and laying down.  I don’t know why that one word sparks instant terror in my heart – but it does.  So, in a zippy twist of fate, time becomes virtually motionless at the exact same moment that I am launched into an all hands on deck – aaaahhhhOOOOOOgaaaaa – state of alarm.

This is not good.

I have tried to be rational about this process.  A scan only shows what is already there.  It doesn’t create a problem.  It identifies a problem.  I recognize that “scan terror” is a close cousin to “step on the scale at the doctor’s office terror.”  There is no denying that the problem already exists.  We are just HIGHLIGHTING it.  In the middle of the common area.  At least now, scales are digital, and I no longer have to go through the humiliation of the changing of the steel plates in 10 lb increments – slide – slide – slide – incredulous look – slide – slide.  Still – I am terrorized by the process.

The WAIT is agony.  Wait for the test.  Wait for the results.  All in slug slow-mo.  Is there a reason that I catastrophize my way through every possible outcome?  Why not idealize?  Why not imagine the most amazing and positive results?

During my recent bone scan, I was particularly unnerved.  The tech was NOT a talker.  When I am nervous, I need a talker nearby.  I need dialogue, Baby.  I need distraction – particularly while strapped in a tube that shrinks to fit.  No such luck from Silent Johnny.  So – this is what I did.  I envisioned every prayer said on my behalf as light.  The light of love.  The light of God.  God is love – so – same thing.  Then I envisioned that light in every cell of my body.  I talked to myself (since Silent Johnny was an epic fail).  I said, “I am breathing in the light and breathing out anything dark.  I am breathing in health and breathing out sickness.”

It was remarkable.  Prayers just flowing in.  Love just lighting up.  God at work through us and for us.

Maybe scans are actually holy ground.