“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” (~L.M. Montgomery)
It seems this keyboard is a bit rusty these days. I’ve wanted to write. My brain sometimes thinks in essays full of vibrant color and ebullient words, but when I open my trusty laptop, it’s as if my fingers are paralyzed by my heart. Words. Stolen from me.
I’ve been here before, but never this long, never so dark as I’ve wrestled and struggled and grappled with the day in and day out of living with Stage IV cancer.
But my childhood friend, Monica, who knows a physically painful suffering far deeper than I, shared a nugget with me as we talked for hours over phone lines. “Oh, friend,” she sighed, “Don’t forget, sometimes the pause is just as important as the note.”
The pause in writing, like in music, carries a weight of its own, and without it, the piece doesn’t carry the same wonder and beauty.
I’ve needed a pause. I’ve needed quiet space in my heart for my family and close friends and me to grapple together. And frankly, to just live together, seeing the simple pleasures in each day and holding them close.
Along the way our family has been given enormous gifts, huge pleasures, too… like four weeks out west together, slowly traversing in Merlin the Magic Bus, spending days seeing God’s grandeur, visiting old friends, curling up for quiet days in our home away from home, time together for which we deeply long. It was a phenomenal time, and with a three week break from chemo, I tasted and remembered for a short time what it feels like to feel well. I had forgotten, and the taste was delectable.
We finished our summer at the lake with friends, a working vacation for Bri, a respite for me, a week of laughter and learning and playing for our children. Gift.
Pause. Breathe deep. Exhale. Move forward to the next thing.
School started along with cross-country races and Boy Scouts and volleyball and adjustments and piles of homework, travel for Brian, weekend trips and camping for Bear, wisdom teeth surgery for Ash, and chemo after chemo after chemo. We just adjust our sails every few weeks knowing I will be out of commission. I cry over missed field trips and I delight in events I can attend (I tried real hard last night not to be the blubbering mess of a mom when my boy lettered last night in XC). But I delight mostly in being here, a welcoming face for my children when they walk in the door or when I pick them up at carpool. The smiles on their faces when our eyes meet… simple pleasures.
Honestly, the past year and a half, I’ve wrestled through a darkness that is terrifying, an anxiety that is paralyzing. And the cupped hands together in prayer, the bowing in worship tasting and seeing that He is good, the clinging to friends’ arms and weeping together, the sitting with my parents and working through the same fear after fear and struggle after struggle has been a necessary pause in the story I write.
His story for my life.
And I’m learning what I already know as I frantically beg, “God, I need you.” or “Stay my mind, dear Jesus, stay my mind” that He is here. Even in the darkness, He hears. He never leaves. Never forsakes.
Right now I’m in the midst of tests and procedures routinely run making for long, hard days… any one of them could mean our lives change all over again. But it could also mean it all stays the same. Chemo. Feel miserable. Feel okay. Push through. Live the life God has given.
That is the choice we make every day.
Today. Lovely today offers itself to us. Life. Together.
Following each other softly.
(I have heard from some of you, wondering if I am okay, how we really are. Thank you for asking, for checking in, for cards sent to remind us we are not forgotten, for meals on the hard weeks. Thank you for pausing with me. Your care for us resonates.)
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