31 May 2015

How are YOU doing?

So many have asked me this question.  I don't have the answer. Examining my feelings is really not helpful to me at all. I just allow them to happen to me which means I cry in public places nowadays.

This is not a 'ra-ra' victory post about how everything happens for a reason....or about how this is such a growth experience for us.... or any of those (possibly true) pontifications.

Millions of people are in my position. I am not alone or unique in my pain but somehow that fails to comfort me in any way whatsoever.

Faith summed it up recently:

'It is like my heart opened one day and all the light, love and joy walked out and now it is full of pain, darkness and despair.'

I have to agree....I liken it to a slow bleed. I can only pray that it stops before it completely destroys me.

This will eventually end and perhaps I will find joy and happiness again one day but until then I have to work extremely hard to cultivate those moments and even harder to keep fear and despair firmly at bay.

I am extremely mindful of and grateful for, unending support from my family, my friends and my community. There is no end to my gratitude to those who so selflessly give to us in our time of need in so many areas.

12 May 2015

How are the kids doing?

This is a question I have been asked countless times. The answer is not an easy one as each child responds completely differently in such traumatic circumstances.

Telling the children was the single most painful experience of my life.

Our prayer has always been that God would place an age-appropriate veil over each of the kids hearts and minds, that they would only hear and absorb what was necessary in that moment. Each of the kids have had conversations with me (and shed many tears) that show they have faced their worse fears.  They are aware of the severity of the situation but they understand that we hold a hope and a real faith that Russell will be restored.

 We have been learning TOGETHER, as a family, to live in a place of uncertainty.

 Initially we all almost suffocated within the confines of our fear and pain but TOGETHER we are making small inroads .... Knitting uncertainty, gratitude and intentionality into the fabric of our lives.

This conversation between myself and Rachel sums up how the kids are doing:

Rachel: Mom! The songwriting workshop is amazing! I loved every minute of it even though it was a bit like a therapy session.

Me: What? What do you mean?

Rach: Well, part of writing songs is learning to tap into your own emotions so we did that and lots of the kids shared stuff that's happening in their lives. It was pretty hectic - everyone cried!

Me : Did you share your story at all?

Rach : Nope. But their stories were far worse.

Me: (gobsmacked) Really?? Can you tell me anything?

She proceeds to tell me stories of divorce, bad child/parent relationships , blended families etc

Rach : Our story is pretty sad Mom, but at least we all in it TOGETHER.

Thankfully I was wearing large dark glasses  as I could barely see through the tears as I marvelled at the miracle of these words of wisdom from our brave, courageous

10 May 2015

Take Me Back to Egypt

*Chemo weekends suck eggs.

Seeing Russell literally devoid of all energy for 3-4 days has taken some adjustment.
The first time it happened I fell apart. This weekend I fell apart a tiny bit less.

I have to confess to having some intense moments of self pity this past week.

It's not fair!
How can this happen?
In my head I know that cancer does not play favourites. It has no demographic but SERIOUSLY?
And then the lights went out. Loadshedding. We were all sitting in the lounge, subdued and heavy-hearted.  I found myself reaching for a book called The Story by Max Lucado. I purchased it a year ago and it has been sitting neatly on our school shelf, untouched.
We read, by torchlight, for two hours. We covered Moses' birth until he took the moaning, ungrateful Israelites out of Egypt. We read about the incredible way  God provided and cared for his people and yet they STILL wanted to go back to Egypt where they lived as slaves.
Faith was horrified that the Israelites could be so faithless; how they could not see that God had rescued them and that he daily provided their immediate needs; that He had a great plan for them.
It hit me right between the eyes.
I am a miserable Israelite.

Yes, my life **BC was pretty incredible but now I am in the desert. I cannot change this but I can choose my response to the experience.

Our faith is being tested in unimaginable ways;  it is really easy to be a Christ-follower when life is dandy and your biggest problem is where to go on holiday.  Facing a future where you cant even plan a holiday takes a special kind of courage - one that comes from a special kind of faith.
I am not going to lie. Egypt still looks pretty damn good to me but I have to confess that in our desert ramblings God has been faithful each day. 
The 'each day' bit is crucial to this plot. I have explicit instructions to not look at tomorrow or next week or next month. Consequences of my trying to look further ahead involve me coming apart at the core of my being.
Instead we attempt to look at today; to trust for financial, emotional and physical provision and He has not failed us.
It is important to note that I am NOT saying God made Russell sick to teach us some great, spiritual lesson. I don't understand it - all I know is that bad stuff happens in this world but God is good.
*Weekend after chemo
**Before Cancer

05 May 2015

A Jarring Return

Here I am 7 months later and our lives are  looking very different. I once again have to write, to process and ultimately share our everyday life which is now anything but ordinary.

Russell was diagnosed with cancer a month ago. A shocking diagnosis that has left us breathless.
In an instant our world has changed forever.

My immediate instinct was to batten our hatches and keep everything close to home. I did not want to see  or talk to anyone. Ever again. I had my immediate family and some very close friends who were my safe space and they sheltered me from the world. Questions flooded my phone, each one piercing my  broken heart as I had to relive the horror of our situation. Ultimately my sister set up a fb page and whatsapp group for us to post relevant updates.

Little by little I felt God breaking down my defences and preparing me to share our story. Initially I felt sick at the thought - sharing our struggles and pain felt indulgent and garish. I did not ever want to be perceived as a victim. I did  not want to become the poster child for inspiring people. I just want to be Mel. I know the real me; I am not brave and courageous. I am scared all the time.

But herein lies the secret -  the Person in whom I have faith makes me look good. In my weakness He makes me strong.

He is where I take my pain and my fear.

I trust Him.

I have relented.

I will write.