The Interim Time

“There’s nothing more fragile than being alive.”

Natasha Richardson

One year ago: in the midst of cycle 2 of 6 for my non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The ground is still shifting – daily.

Nine months ago: done with treatment. I expect to be crazy full of joy the last day. Instead, I sit wailing in my car for 25 minutes.

Six months ago: my first post-treatment checkup. Blood drawn. CT scan. All is well. I am getting stronger.

Three months ago: my second post-treatment checkup. Blood drawn. CT scan. All is well. My hematologist is giddy with delight. I am relieved. I am getting stronger.

Five weeks ago: my second case of shingles, despite having taken the Shingrix shots between the two. I am afraid. I survive and avoid the worst.

Ten days ago: my nine-month checkup. Blood drawn. CT scan. All is well. The nurse practitioner says that at 80 and having had cancer, my immune system is especially challenged even now and will continue to be. No expiration date. I will need to be careful despite vaccines. I am discouraged.

Nine days ago: I have a low-grade temperature, chills and unusual fatigue. I am surprisingly calm, but alert. I call my internist’s office and a nurse runs through the triage questions for COVID. At 4:30 pm I am tested, up both nostrils. I remain calm, knowing the results will not come until the next day. At midnight, I check my email and there is a message from Mayo already. “SARS-COV-2RNA: Undetected.” I am encouraged.

Today: I had to have work done on my internet connection by a technician. In my home. We both masked up. I hate masks more than ever! The Pandemic is still a growling presence. I am impatient. But I am not afraid.

“There’s nothing more fragile than being alive.

All of the fear and fragility of this past year, however, has found me impatient, bored, low on energy and occasionally depressed in recent weeks. Sleep has been a challenge once again, and I’ve been reminded of the years after my beloved died. Making it through the grief journey.

There is some grief here that has been hiding quietly with the moments of more recent calm and relief and encouragement.

Grief that being alive means being fragile. Grief that I have much less control over what happens to me than I do. That certainty is fleeting and unwanted change may arrive in my next breath.

I do wish that I could always be courageous. But even when I am not, I do know that courage is not far away. And it will look and sound different in its time.

Then I remember John O’Donohue’s poem:

“You are in this time of the interim / Where everything seems withheld. / The path you took to get here has washed out; / The way forward is still concealed from you./…Do not allow your confusion to squander / This call which is loosening / Your roots in false ground, / That you might come free / From all you have outgrown.”

John O’Donohue, “For the Interim Time,” from To Bless the Space Between Us

And I was reminded this week of a meaningful prayer, using the image of God sitting at the potter’s wheel, and I, the clay. Some of it especially struck deep:

Help me, God, commit to the process, not the outcome. / Help me embrace this messy middle time / when I must make space for shifts and questions…/ You hum a tune of possibility / and potential as you work. / With each move of your hand, / you mutter, / “Beautiful.” / “Beautiful.” / “Beautiful.”

Arianna Braithwaite Lehn, “When I’m in the Messy Middle of Something,” from Ash and Starlight

I am growing more beautiful in this time. Grace still bats last.

And I’m okay with that.

19 thoughts on “The Interim Time

  1. I think major life changes always mean that we grieve what we have lost…. But as your quotes point out, that doesn’t mean that life isn’t still good and that our future still isn’t something to look forward to. You have been through so much since your diagnosis, but you are moving forward with grace and hope and generously sharing your insights and experiences with the rest of us. And that has been a gift, to me and those I’ve shared your posts with, as well as so many other people. Grace does bat last, and thank God for that!

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  2. I find your blog posts so inspirational. In fact, I always wait to read them during quiet times so I can absorb all the depth of your wisdom and insights. I find them all uplifting and positive, and they always help me through my own personal grief journey. You are a gutsy, graceful woman and a role model to me. Thanks so much. 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! It took a while, but I’ve finally realized that it is in the writing of this blog that I so often find my courage. I have to dig deep and let the spirit flow, and that has so often led me to the calm waters where I find grace. I hope that in your own grief journey, you continue to find places and people who nurture you. I am so grateful that I can be one of those. We are in this together, aren’t we? And your gratitude blesses me.

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  3. Wow, I really love that poem. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing. It is indeed fragile to be alive and this reality must be mourned before it can be accepted. I hope you stay well, and that you feel immense peace even amid the uncertainty. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely love that prayer! In the eyes of God, we are His children, children He adores. We forget that sometimes because we focus on not being ‘good enough’, ‘strong enough’, ‘brave enough’. God only sees ‘us’, the children that He loves so dearly…we are precious, beautiful. Your beauty does shine through all the time…through your writing, we see that lovely shimmering soul that is ‘you’. Thank you for letting us see that dear person…Wishing you renewed health in these hours and days.

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    1. Thank you so much for such a beautiful reply, Linda. The insistent “enough” is an ongoing challenge to overcome, but sometimes I manage to remember that I have been born “enough” and I can live as if that is absolutely true. Thank you for your good wishes.

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      1. You are right…that is all any of can do. We keep trying to do our best…:) Remember always what a beautiful inspiration you are to others. (Your little light is certainly not under a bushel basket…it keeps on shining!)

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  5. Thank you for sharing how you’re feeling these days. I think we are in a liminal time, although it may take different forms for different people. I’m gradually coming to just accept it.

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