Sunday, August 17, 2014

We can kick, scream, & pout.

Today I reach a small goal. It is likely significant only to me. It doesn't even really matter. I'm just stunned that it took me this long. This Blog is #365. When I first began blogging, it was in February 2012 after my double mastectomy. I was so unsure of life at the time. Truth is… I still am. As I began blogging, I found healing. My cancer counselor encouraged me to continue. It was good for me.

Through this Blog, My Journey, I have found release. I have been able to organize my thoughts & better understand my feelings. I have had a few harsh lessons. I've learned only to blog my story, not somebody else's. I've received a few words through the grapevine from people who thought I overstepped my bounds. To them, I apologize. I never meant to grieve you, & I have tried to be conscious of that & not repeat the offense.

My Blog has caused anxiety for some that I love, so I have tried to write about "things" other than cancer (although sometimes I cannot avoid the subject). After all, it is the reason I began this Blog. Originally, I wrote for my daughters. I still do. I want this Blog to be a memoir for them. I lost my Mama's diary in the tornado. That is my saddest, most irreplaceable lost. I wanted my daughter's to have these words in case I wasn't here to say them.

However, I am here. I am more alive than ever. I have a fresh perspective which I love. I never take a day for granted (even the ugly ones). I'm here, & I get to share life with the people I love. I have a new home (since my old one blew away with all my belongings). I have new belongings, & I am thankful for what I have. My beloved pets survived, & they comfort me daily.

Lately I have been dwelling on change. It seems to be a part of many facets of my life. I have had to change, & I have watched others change & not change. I guess the better way to say that is to say resist change. When the wind literally blew in (as it did with Cancer & the Tornado), it gave me no choice but to change.

I never would have chosen these changes on my own. Remember, this Blog is The Journey No One Would Choose. If I could rewind my life 3 years & was offered options…. Well, it's probably best that I didn't have  a choice. To say I would choose this journey is to say that I would choose to see the people I love most suffer. That seems selfish & awful. To say I trust God for His greater good, & that I have found treasures I never would have known, is the truth. I am blessed beyond measure.

One thing I've learned. Change is good. It is a sign of life. It offers a new perspective. Before cancer, I liked my rut. I didn't like change. I didn't embrace it. I let it cause me anxiety, & I allowed my fears to dictate my life. I still have fears, but I find strength in facing them. It is empowering. Not easy, but necessary…

When the winds blow, we can resist. We can kick, scream, & pout. We can hold on to what we've always known to be right, or we can open our minds, self-evaluate, let go of our baggage, & breathe in life. We have 1 life to live, & we can only live our life.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What is a friend?

Today, I choose to write about friendship. Through the losses I have experienced over the last 4 years… I just want to take a moment to thank all of those who took time to comfort me in some small or big way. As most of you know, 4 years ago, I lost a youth group that I loved & a church home of 25 years. Many of those people are still my dear friends. I will always love them.

As we began our search for a new church, we found one in a nearby town. We chose this church for more than one reason, but one very important part of this decision was because I made a new friend, & every week she smiled her beautiful smile, hugged me, & remembered my name. Simply put, I knew when I walked in the door, somebody cared about me.

As we began to call our new church "Home," something unforeseen & awful happened. I was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 3 Breast Cancer. The bottom dropped out of my world, & I felt extremely vulnerable & alone (in spite of the fact that my family loved me dearly & was always near to me). So much emotion to process. To say I was overwhelmed does not do my state of mind justice.

So… a once active youth leader was now a Survivor. I kept asking myself, "When do I become a Survivor? Is it while I'm still fighting for my life or is it 15 months down the road when my treatments end?" I think I can accurately say now that the day I was diagnosed, I became a Survivor. I shut people out. I couldn't talk to even my closest friends for months. I cannot describe the ache in my heart.

As I walked this walk, Jesus became my best friend. I know this sounds cliche, but it is the truth. This needed to happen long before cancer. I just chose to live with a false security prior to my diagnosis. As I journeyed on, my mom's health & mind declined. I knew I was losing her, but I could only be thankful because, I knew in Heaven, she would be wholly healed (body, mind, & soul). I miss her, but as I wrote in another blog, I just wish I could spend an hour with her on a special bench by the lake, to hear all about her life in Heaven. It makes me smile to think of her with no more tears or suffering.

3 months after my beloved mother went to Heaven, a tornado took my Home Sweet Home. We realized our losses slowly. Insurance took a while, & things we thought could be salvaged were unsalvageable. Pretty much, a total loss. I have never really grieved this immense loss as most people. I don't know why, & sometimes that bothers me. I love my new home. Going to the old home sight makes me feel claustrophobic. I don't really understand myself.

So 9 months out from our most recent tragedy & 4 years out from the first of many to follow, I look back, & I see friends & family who cared for me. I see a God who drew me close to Him. It's almost surreal but not so much any  more. I would like to close this blog with a small tribute to my friends…

A friend is not a user. A friend is genuine. A friend listens to your same story each time it is told. A friend forgives. A friend does not pretend. A friend gives you distance. A friend draws close when you are ready. A friend walks with you. A friend bears your secrets. A friend comforts. A friend tells the truth even when it hurts. A friend cries tears for you & laughs with you. A friend doesn't judge. A friend prays for you. A friend may hurt you (but hopefully not intentionally). Sometimes a friend needs forgiveness. Thank you Friends for being my friend. I love you.