Chemo and Dreams

My dear readers: It has been a month since I have been able to post, one filled with adapting and a new way of living with unknowns and surprises. My hope for White Hair Grace is to continue to focus on the graces that show up in these later years of life. That continues, now couched in the life of cancer treatments and new graces showing up in their paths. This blog was written around September 24th. I introduce it as the first of a few yet to be written, to catch you up gradually on what graces have transpired in the intervening few weeks. To say that graces have arrived is to put it mildly! To admit that it has been sometimes an uphill climb is to be honest. But it has all yet proven that our life lessons arrive as they will, and if we pay attention, they have the most deeply important truths to teach us. And keep bringing us closer to home. 

My first chemo went quite well last Friday. One little glitch at the beginning and that was it for complications. I left 6 hours later under my own steam and felt elated when I got home. This was going to be okay! The doctor was right. “Most patients tolerate this chemo quite well.”

Then Prednisone by mouth entered my lymphoma life, and the weekend was a misery of nausea, fatigue and “why am I not one of those “most patients”????? Sunday afternoon I went to the ER with chills, at a doctor’s recommendation, and 6 hours later, I left with a clear slate. All was just as it should be – except for some dehydration due to inadequate food and fluid for 2 days.

I had a lot of time lying on the gurney waiting for test results. By myself in the quiet during the waiting times, I found myself taking a surprise trip back across my life – all of it – and for the first time, all of it was wonderful!

All the guilts, mistakes, bad decisions, grudges, unintended consequences that hold us back from being free was done! Forgiveness had become real. I never thought it was possible, but there it was.

I had a wonderful, wonderful upbringing. Loving parents who also loved each other openly. Two younger sisters who, among the inevitable spats, were the loves of my life – and still are. It was a slide show of memories…each one going by in brief minutes or even seconds…jumping from one part of my life to another and back yet to another. 

There were memories of painting the wooden boats at the summer lake cottage with my dad. And lying in the bottom of one of those boats one starry night with him and my grandpa, looking up at the stars. And there they were – the northern lights, glistening neon green, hanging down like curtains undulating in the dark sky. My first wonder.

Memories of my mother who would sit and rub my back when I was lying on my bed, feeling rejected and homely and saying that some day, someone would come along who would see the real me and love me. And she was right. My dear mother, who would rub my chest with Vicks Vapo-rub when I had a chest cold, and wrap a scratchy wool sock around my neck, fixing it firmly with a large safety pin. Mother’s love.

Memories of my young marriage and birthing and rearing my two wondrous sons and making my way through the unfamiliar life of a doctor’s wife.

Memories of graduate school in music, performing on stages over the years and hearing the applause that made it all worthwhile. Memories of trips abroad: my first on a 6-week college choir trip through Europe. Norway and Sweden, my ancestral homes. And others taken during my second marriage.

Memories of Dwight and my fishing expeditions in Minnesota, sleeping in our little cutty cabin, and he, always proudest of the fish I got.

Memories of my churches and the amazing congregations I was so blessed to serve. Making such dear and lasting friends in the midst of it.

Memories of beginning this blog, fearful that I wasn’t good enough but encouraged by my amazing mentor over and over again.

It was all so calm, so tender, so fresh again in this new look, and I found myself overflowing with gratitude and wonder.

And I realized once more that when gratitude is at the center of our life – gratitude for those things and those people in the past and present that have challenged and blessed us and shown us the paths that we are meant to be on – the pain that has been an inevitable part of all our lives can be diminished and made bearable. Gratitude washes the past clean of enough of its darkness. It sets us down in the green valleys of the Psalmist and on the tops of the tallest mountains.

And finally, all is well. It is grace.

It takes a lifetime to get there. But the sooner we begin, the sooner we will arrive. It’s taken me 79 years, but it’s been worth every one. It may have been cancer that brought this to a head, but whatever happens to this body in the months ahead, I am at peace in my spirit.

15 thoughts on “Chemo and Dreams

  1. Hi Martha, I had no idea you had this new cancer challenge ahead of you. I have a dear friend here that went through a bone marrow transplant for lymphoma after months of chemo and is now doing well. It was a long haul. There is much hope and success in this area. You are in my thoughts for a speedy and successful recovery.
    Christina (from TOM’s meditation group)

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  2. I have kept you constant in my prayers. I was so happy to see this post today. Your words are a balm for the soul. The Lord has blessed you with so many gifts and your writing is one of them. I will continue to pray for you as you go through your treatments. You are such a blessing to so many. The ‘dreams’ you shared are so beautiful…a colorful life, lived so very well.

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  3. This must be a hard time for you, yet you seem to be seeing the best of it and using it to look at life from a different perspective. Thank you for sharing your insights which helps all of us to see the road ahead a bit more clearly. You give us something to hang our hats on.

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  4. It was so good to read this post, for so many reasons. I was wondering how you were doing in your cancer treatments, so I was very happy to see this pop up in my email this morning. Then I read it and….wow! I’m so happy that you have arrived at the place where you truly appreciate all that life has given you, and very grateful that you shared this insight so that the rest of us can work on that perspective as well. Because it really is the best one to have. I pray that your next treatment is easier physically (staying hydrated really does help), and look forward to reading more. Thank you so very much for writing about your journey!

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  5. ❤️ You approached the whole thing beautifully. That’s the spirit. I’m confident that if there is one to get through all these with flying colors, that person is you. All my love to you.

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  6. I was thinking about you just yesterday, Martha, wondering how you are. I so appreciate this post. You have been touched and blessed by grace. I hope your treatment continues to go well.

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  7. Thank you for blessing me, and all of your readers, with this post. May you tolerate your treatments well and continue to experience God’s blessings as you travel this journey. I’m so glad you came to CUMC those years ago.

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  8. Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring words of grace. Your writing is permeated with grace and it touches my mind, heart, and soul. Thank you for this gift that you share with all your readers. The flashback memories of your family are so meaningful because your sister is a dear friend and I feel close to your family through her. I will keep you close in my prayers for your courage and strength through your chemotherapy. God bless and keep you and surround you with love and grace.
    Joy Erickson

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  9. I love how your journey back to all your memories allows you to now see each day as fresh and new. You may be 79, but you have the eyes (and heart) of a newborn. May you continue to nurture yourself in whatever way that beautiful heart wants! We’re with you!

    >

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  10. Dear Martha, your post brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful that those six hours of waiting, instead of anxiety brought gratitude and beautiful memories of a life rich in love. I hope your treatment is manageable and that you continue gifting us hope and words.

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  11. I’ve been thinking about you since you posted about your diagnosis. Thank you for posting and letting us know how things are with you. I pray that you continue to cope well with your treatment and that you feel God’s presence every step of the way. It’s wonderful to hear that He is wrapping you in His peace. x

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