Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old broken tools

I had a dream a few weeks ago. People were chasing me, over hills and around trees, through gullies and up the rock face of a precipice. I knew they wanted to hurt me, take something important. Something very important, like maybe a kidney.

More than once, just when I thought things looked hopeless, to my great relief I found a weapon. Each time I used my weapon to beat back my attackers, but it never turned out to be quite the tool I needed to finish the job. The shovel I found had a loose handle, and the baseball bat turned out to be a hollow, lightweight stick. Escape was always temporary, and my weapons were never sufficient for the task.

I woke up exhausted, but with my kidneys intact.

Later that day, a friend asked why I looked so tired, and I told her about my dream. “Maybe it means something,” I said, “but I don’t know what.”

We were waiting outside the elementary school gym for our five-year-old boys to finish karate class.

She looked at me. “Are you kidding me? That dream is your life.”

Ah. The clarity of an outside perspective.

Over the last two weeks, I've come to see Mat's chemotherapy as the weapons in my dream. Mat has already decided that the treatment he's on now is likely to be his last, and my dream is helping me to accept his decision. The drugs are old, broken tools. They may buy a little time, but the end result is inevitable, and the battle is exhausting. And sometimes the fighting doesn’t even make the battle last longer, it just makes it more tiring.

Putting the weapons down is frightening. They feel like the last barrier between here and that grassy cemetery. It helps to see them for what they are, though, and I don't want to be the person who presses unwanted treatment on someone else because she’s not ready to face the enormity of her loss.

Is it possible to be ready? In my academic head I think it is. In my actual head I think it's time to get out of the boat and take a step onto the water.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Wish we had better tools to fight cancer than chemo that doesn't quite do the job, radiation that does too much of a job, and operations that don't always succeed if you can even have one.

:( don't know what I would do if I had a recurrence. I think I would be too tired to fight again.

Jenn Jenson said...

My heart is breaking for you. What do you need? Hugs and support? A happy tale to distract you for a moment?

Sending my love.

Large Marge said...

Thanks for sharing your heart with us. You open up and let us in. You're brave enough to be vulnerable with us, and it makes me love you.


Anonymous said...

God bless you and Mat!
Love you,

contigo said...

I don't think anyone would be ready for the enormity of that impending loss. For me, you have been an inspiration as you have tirelessly fought to have more time with Mat. Just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I will add a special prayer that you will be able to accept whatever comes in your life. Maybe it will be more time. . . let's hope so.

lifeinredshoes said...

I agree with the dream analysis. And yes, you can prepare yourself for what the upcoming months may bring.
Begin, or continue, to have very honest, candid talks about what is happening. No holding back. Hopes, fears, ups and downs, they are all worthy of words said aloud.
Spend this time laughing, or crying, doing whatever you need to do to cement in your memory the journey you are taking...together.

Life does go on. Every single day the sun will come up, and every night the sun will go down. Allow yourselves to feel, to express those feelings, to give them words.
Just tell yourself, " if I can do this, I can do anything."
Much care, Red Shoes

~laurie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this blog with all of us. I went to high school with Mat in Riggins and found him on facebook last year where he shared this link with me. I check your blog from time to time and catch up.

I am so very grateful Mat found you and had the good sense to marry you! :) He is very fortunate in his wife and children and I know he knows that. You have been an amazing partner for him through all of this and I hope you realize how much of an inspiration you are to Mat as well to all of us. You and Mat are both simply amazing.

I will hold you all close in prayer as you face the next steps of this very long and difficult journey. Having just lost my mother and mother-in-law to cancer this summer, I am very much aware of the difficult struggle that is cancer and its treatment.

Thank you for sharing with us your feelings, wisdom and insights. And thank you for being such a wonderful partner for my friend, Mat.

Laurie Swift Anglen

SLP said...

Tough news, tough choices...
Let me know what scaffolding you need to hold it together.
Sending you love