Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (12:58am)
Long Time…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. It’s not for lack of things to write about. I’ve still been journaling. So much has happened the last few years. So much happened during the season that I had cancer, the surgery and the follow up… amazing things. I wanted to write about them but I was still processing everything internally. I couldn’t figure out a way to do a quick summary. While I was pondering all the crazy that is my life, my world flipped upside down and has been that way ever since.

In May of 2012 Ken was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. By the time it was discovered it had already spread to his bones, spine and lymph nodes. Since it was a slow growing cancer it really was tragic that it was not diagnosed sooner, especially since he was at the doctors frequently with his other health issues. Suddenly there were specialists and surgery and follow up treatment and learning to live with that kind of diagnosis. I now know for sure what I suspected when I was going through my own cancer stuff … it’s way harder to see him suffer and grow through this process than it was going through my own bout with cancer.

I am not unfamiliar with grief. I’ve had plenty of loss over the years, and I’ve walked through the valley of terminal illness and death with many people. But there is a different kind of grief involved with living day to day with life threatening disease.

In the middle of it Ken and I have both been energized in some ways too. We are both more aware than ever with how precious each day is. Our time together means more. Our time with people we love means more. We’re just calling it “sudden death overtime.” We’re in that exciting part of life where anything can happen and every play is important. I also know now how much of a team effort life is. Apparently it takes a village to raise a couple of cancer survivors. I’m so thankful for the love and tenderness of our friends who have been amazing support and have walked with us in the midst of the journey. It’s been good seeing my husband get to experience firsthand the love of so many people.

So much has happened … heartbreaking, horrible, amazing, wonderful, beautiful things. Hopefully soon I’ll have the time and energy to write about them.

I had been waiting to write until I had something “profound” to say. Then I realized just experiencing life together was more important. Tonight I’m just taking the opportunity to acknowledge I’m here. I’m still alive. I’m still hopeful, and thankful. I’m thankful to see the redemptive thread still being woven throughout my life. And even though there are times when I’m overwhelmed and would like to just curl up in a little ball in the corner, most of time I’m amazed at how much life we are experiencing in the midst of it all.

Hopefully this will be continued sooner than the gap between the last post and I’ll be able to write more about the things that I’ve been thinking about late at night. If you’re here reading this, thank you. Thank you for caring for us and being a part of our lives. Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

I wrote this post in the middle of December and posted it in the midst of preparing for cancer surgery. It kind of got lost in the middle of the cancer stuff. Since it’s so important to me I’ve reposted it again. I think it’s probably one of the truest and most important posts I’ve ever written. Ken and I have challenges we face that makes it impossible for us to have a traditional marriage. I get grief about that sometimes from friends and people who don’t understand. Hopefully this will help a little…

Thursday, December 15, 2011 (1:52am)

Important Things I Learned From My Husband…

My husband and I have been married since the early 80′s. There has been a lot of living along the way. The last few weeks I’ve been looking back at my life and remembering. In the process it made me remember again just why I love my husband Ken so much, and how much I’ve learned from him over the years. Here are just a few of the highlights in no particular order…

There’s only one s in “sauce.”

Spelling has never been my strong suit. Scrabble was not the game for me. My mother’s reaction to my horrible spelling was to tell me to spell it like it sounds. She was from West Virginia though so with the thick accent it didn’t work well. Dog still sounded like dawgg to me. My Ken has always patiently helped me work through stuff like that.

When tying your shoes, the left shoestring needs to go over the right one.

I was an only child growing up in a home with a mentally ill mother. Her teaching style was to show me how to do something, scream at me or beat the crap out of me if I did it wrong. I missed the normal developmental things like effectively tying my shoes, or learning how to play games etc. I was an adult when my husband actually showed me how to tie my shoes so they stayed tied and faced the right direction. :) I was also clueless when it came to being a part of a family and making that work too. He has modeled for me what family looks like and has been my family all these years. That’s an even more important life lesson than how to tie my shoes.

If it’s sloppy, eat it over the sink.

Food and life gets messy sometimes. It’s always good to control the mess as much as possible. Drippy fruit is easier to contain leaning over the sink. Sometimes people’s lives are every bit as messy. For all these years our lives have been populated by a huge number of people. Many of them ended up at our house during times of stress or crisis. Ken is not a real “people person.” Both of us by nature would make great hermits. But in all these years with the diverse parade of humanity coming through our doors and sometimes sleeping on our couch, Ken has always been so supportive and willing to have them there. I’ve seen him be incredibly tender to some who’ve been so wounded. I’ve seen him be incredibly patient with people who could have driven almost anyone crazy. And every day he puts up with a steady parade of people coming in and out of the house for music lessons… all this from a man who doesn’t particularly care for music.

Real love is worth waiting for.

Ken and I met when I was probably 18 or 19. He’s 8 years older than me. He was a grown man who had been on his own for quite some time. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I was also still trying to work through the lingering effects of the abuse I experienced in child hood, that left me afraid to trust anyone with my heart. He fell in love with me when I still had a lot of baggage. In true photo-geek fashion he started buying compatible camera equipment before I was ready to even date him. He loved me while I was too afraid to love… until the love I felt for him grew larger than that fear. He loved me purely in a way that made me feel safe. Some of the other guys I dated before him loved me in spite myself. They were threatened by some of the very things that he found appealing. I am a strong woman, and a “handful” for sure. After all these years, even though I know I drive him nuts some times, I’ve never questioned his love or his acceptance of me. What an incredible gift for a husband to give his wife.

Sometimes real love is tough and requires sacrifice.

In my 20s I had a crazy work schedule that took a toll on my body and my social life. My sleep schedule was turned around for a long time. I was tired and exhausted a lot of the time when I wasn’t working. Ken was always so good to help pick up the slack and go out of his way to help and take care of me. There were a few years where I just physically didn’t have it in me to work full time, and he kept at it when I couldn’t. A few years ago his body said NO MORE to his crazy work schedule and the incredible stress he was under at work. He was able to do it a lot longer than I would have been able to under the same circumstances. These days he faces a lot of physical challenges. He keeps track of all the different medicines and all the things that keep his body regulated much better than I could ever do it. Even with the physical things he faces every day he manages to keep things going around the house and helps support me with my teaching business. In the process I get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and keep working even when I’m exhausted because that’s what I need to do to make sure we have the medical care we need. It’s a tough gig with the current economy but we’re making it. It’s certainly not the life we dreamed of… but it is sooooo worth it. We have each other. We have an amazing group of people who are a part of our lives. I have amazing students. Would I love a life where we could rest and have less stress? You bet. Am I incredibly thankful that we’ve had each other in the midst of the crazy life we’ve led? YES. Sometimes life is just hard. But it’s all worth it. I feel like I’m just beginning to understand what real love really is.

11:48 Saturday April 7th Easter eve…

Easter has always been an important holiday to me since I came to believe. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t want any talk of two things… politics and religion. My first encounter with Jesus was reading the bible back in Jr. High.  I was able to see him without a bunch of pre-conceived notions or after too many boring flannelgraph Sunday school lessons. I was taken by the way he interacted with people. I’ve never been the same since those early encounters. I like to spend Easer alone remembering… remembering how different my life could have been without the decision to follow him.  And being thankful for the life I’ve had that’s better for having known him.  I know that so many horrible things have been done throughout the ages in the name of God… and that saddens me. But I have a feeling it saddens Jesus too.  Every day I get up and think about the miracle of still being alive and of being loved by the creator of the universe. I know some of you think I’m crazy for believing. Thanks for hanging with me anyway. :)  This is one of my favorite Easter poems. I think of it every year at this time:

 

Bareback In Kansas

by Eugene Warren

(A Poem About The Passionate Love Of Christ)

The mare lathers the wind,

her mane streams like light,

my face is full of it;

I ride her like a lord of pastures,

a meadow in each eye,

stockpond deep in the center:

water down to mud, mud down

to limestone colorless

at those depths,

greasewhite until sun yellows it.

I am thinking of You

as her hooves bite the grass, spreading it;

I am thinking of Your face,

bearded and serene, of Your eyes

like the pond on a clear day,

a double depth cloudless;

I am thinking of the mouth in Your side

that spoke the fountain,

of the dark bloodcaked eyes

in Your hands and feet weeping,

I am thinking that You loved me

as I mounted the ladder

& shoved the thorns around Your skull,

I am thinking

that the palms of Your outspread hands

watched me as I turned from the hill

& went laughing back to the city

to spill wine like blood down my throat

& tell whores of the Fool.

I am thinking of the spear thrust

that brought the fountain from the rock;

I am thinking Your dead eyes held my image,

I am thinking You broke the darkness

& came after me,

I am thinking You tore the weeds

from my flesh

& sowed good seed,

I am thinking of the nails driven into Love,

 

I am thinking of the governments raising steel helmets

against You, of the nails of denial in our mouths,

I am thinking of Your look that changes,

of the Light that sweeps from Your wounds.

And the mare races through the pasture,

her mane flies in my face,

I lie close to her neck,

the speed of her gallop is not more

than the speed of Your mercy:

And I know that You loved me

though the hammer was in my hand,

though the spear was registered in my name,

though I laughed and taunted–

You did not crush me, You hunted me,

& the swift arrow of Your mercy

shattered the swollen ball of my selfish eye

& Your kiss blossomed my sight anew;

And I know that You are the lamb,

that You are the tiger;

I know that Your love stands against all night,

that darkness’ king has known the temper

of Your blade & fled;

I know that none evades You,

That death’s shattered on Your rock.

And I know that this mare will rise with me,

that You will touch body as well as spirit,

that the blossom will have its stem,

that Your city stands forever,

that the tree bears in season & out,

I know that You know my name

& call it,

& my answering is to

Life.

 

c.2012 Linda B.

Friday, March 23, 2012 (11:57pm)

Thankful… an update. Part 1

It’s been almost 3 months since my surgery. I’ve sat so many times to write this post and have not been ready. It’s been such an amazing time in so many ways. So many things have happened. I’m still processing the things I experienced, and the things I’ve learned. So this will just be the first installment. I apologize up front for the length.

First a little back story:

On Wednesday, Dec 28th I was admitted into the hospital for surgery.

It had been quite the ride in the month or so leading up to it. There was the Thanksgiving weekend trip to the ER while I was losing a lot of blood with a myriad of tests and doctors with concerned looks on their faces. There was the follow up visit to the gynecologist who did a bunch of other tests and looked concerned. There were the test results and the call from the Dr. In between my music students … “You’ve got Cancer” and then having to go back to teaching right after the phone call. Then there was the realization that I had to tell my husband, who suffers from an anxiety disorder, that I had cancer. It was all such a blur. There were the sleepless nights dealing with the symptoms of the cancer and the side effects of the drugs I was on until I could have surgery and consultations with the surgeon etc. In the mean time I was still working a 60 hour work week and attempting to keep things pretty normalized for my students, and the financial burden of how I was going to pay the huge insurance co-pay for it all.

In the middle of getting ready for the surgery, the Christmas season was going on. It was eerie going to the hospital for the pre-op appointments with hardly anyone there right before Christmas and old tattered Christmas decorations everywhere. It was all so surreal. One day I went out with some of my friends. I was overwhelmed with the financial implications I was facing. Both of them reminded me that God is always faithful to take care of me, but I was just beside myself. I was exhausted and emotionally spent. After lunch I went home and got the mail. There was a Christmas card there for me with a peaceful snow scene with the word peace on the front of card, and an amazing gift, the first of many to come. I am so thankful to all of you who prayed for me and who gave me the greatest Christmas gift ever… life… and peace of mind, knowing that I wouldn’t have to carry the burden alone and that you guys had my back. You loved me in so many ways… providing for me financially, bringing food by, coming and keeping me company, phoning other friends to keep them informed, getting me out of the house while I was healing. The day after I came home there was a knock at the door, and the owners of my favorite Thai place were there with soup that they made just for me. They showed up several other times too. That kind of love and support was so wonderfully overwhelming. I’ll write more about that soon.

Physically the surgery went amazingly well. I’m so thankful for my doctor and her willingness to make sure she was able to do it robotically. I was concerned about waking up after surgery, since that has been a problem with other family members, but that was fine. After a complete hysterectomy, I was able to go home the next day. The surgery was minimally invasive, and I was healed enough to start working again in two weeks, because I couldn’t miss the income. The doctor told me that would be hard, I wouldn’t have all my energy back, but it would be ok… and she was right. I was a pooped puppy. But it worked. My students were great and took it easy on me. Everyone’s helped me muddle through. The follow up visits have been great and the doctor was very happy with everything.

They got the pathology reports back and they can back negative for anything spreading outside of the uterus. There was no cancer in anything else they removed.

It is sobering to remember, as my doctor so aptly said that I am now a cancer “survivor.” and as such I have to be tested every few months to make sure there is no re-occurrence. That will go on for many years. While I was waiting for the surgery I found two things that stuck with me… one was a bracelet with a quote, I think originally from Joseph Kennedy that said “Life is tough, but I am tougher.” The other was a neckless that had this inscription:

What Cancer Cannot Do…

It cannot

invade the soul

suppress memories

kill friendship

destroy peace

conquer the spirit

shatter hope

cripple love

corrode faith

steal eternal life

silence courage

Since I was young and my mother died in her 40’s, I have been aware of how tentative and fragile life is. I’ve always tried to live my life to the fullest. I’m thankful for the extra time I have, however long that is. I’m thankful for such amazing friends that love me and care for me. I’m thankful for my amazing students. I’m thankful for the reminder that life is a beautiful, wonderful, unexpected crazy thing. I’m thankful for each of you who’ve stopped by to read this today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 (8:55am)

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Today is surgery day. I’ve got great surgeons and I’m hoping for the best. I’ll be asleep and trust that they have my best interests in mind, and that they will be able to do healing work I can’t do for myself. I have to give up control and trust. But I believe that it is God who ultimately holds my life in the palm of His hand. He has certainly walked with me though so much in my life time. I have no doubt it will be the case this time too.

It is a good thing knowing that there’s very little about my life’s journey I would change. I’ve always tried to live in the moment and to invest in the lives of the people who are a part of my world. This journey with cancer has made me even more committed than ever to make the most of the time I have and to live with passion.

This has been a hard season. I’m very tired physically, but I have a renewed sense of purpose. On the front of my teaching notebook, where I keep my study plans for my students etc I have this quote:

“Courage doesn’t always roar

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying…

I will try again tomorrow”

For years now my life has been measured day by day, and many times moment by moment. Here’s to once again dedicating each of those moments, long or short, to the Creator, who has loved me all along the way, and to you too, the precious gifts that God has placed in my life. All my love to you all. I’m looking forward to our next time together.

Hi everyone. My surgery is scheduled for the 28th in the afternoon. The great surgeon I wrote about in a previous post has agreed to do the surgery robotically, which should make it minimally invasive, with a quick healing time. I would certainly appreciate your prayers.

As some of you know, the co-pay after the medical insurance will probably be between 6,000 and 7500. I can’t get a straight story from anyone at this point since everything is “just an estimate.” Friends and family have been amazing… helping with gifts to help with the surgery since they know that I’m self-employed and the sole provider for my family, and my husband has a slew of medical bills all the time too. So far quite a bit has come in which I’m so thankful for. What an incredible Christmas gift for me this year.

Several people have been asking how they could help. If you would like to find out more about how to help you can write me at lindabmusic@cox.net or if you would like to give you can click on the donate button below.

12/22/11

The other day I was watching something and they mentioned South Carolina’s state motto: Dum Spiro Spero. Translated it means  “While I Breathe, I Hope.” I even lived in South Carolina for awhile and I didn’t know.

Anyone who’s known me for a while knows that one of the maxims I live by is “There’s always hope as long as we’re still breathing.”  Life has a way of creating all sorts of twists and turns. There is certainly no guarantee that everything will be easy, or comfortable along the way. But I was thinking the other day about how in the midst of some of the toughest times of my life I also met some of the most amazing people, and had incredible experiences along the way.  These last few weeks have been tough physically and emotionally, but I’ve had such a sense of God’s presence with me. I’ve also been overwhelmed by the love and support of the people who populate my world.  I am so thankful for each one of you and the history we share together.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that I’ve got some great traveling companions for the journey.  And in the mean time I’m more committed than ever to really live fully in the moment and to be fully present with everyone I’m with.  In the midst of the holiday season and the busyness, hopefully we can all remember that the greatest gift we can give each other is ourselves.

I’m reminded of this Old Testament scripture:

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3