Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good Grief...

My very first semester as a Freshman at Texas, both of my paternal Grandparents died within a few weeks of each other. It seems that they just couldn't be separated even by death. I had exams on the day of each of their funerals and wasn't able to make the trip to Houston to attend either service. I cried when I got the news, but I really grieved a full 3 years later. I loved them both so much. I can't even remember what triggered it when it happened. It could have been anything, a smell, a memory, a story...I have no idea. But, I remember the wave of grief when it struck me full force, and I still miss them. I can hear Grandmommy's laughter still. It was so unique...

When we buried my Mamaw in 1995, I was torn between overwhelming sadness and strange relief. You see, she had been so sick for so long that it seemed cruel that she was still here the last couple of years. The Matriarch of our family, the ROCK, the miracle worker who could solve any problem known to man it seemed had lain helpless and incoherent for what seemed like an eternity. She was the greatest example of a godly woman that I have ever known. When she died she didn't know any of us, but the nurses said she died singing hymns. Those she never forgot because Jesus was the center of her universe. Thankfully, I know where she is, but I have never stopped grieving. I don't think I will. The world changed for the worst on the day she left it. And at odd times and with certain memories, Mom and I still cry together.

Grief is a strange animal. It affects everyone differently. For some it's immediate, for others it's delayed. (I think I'm the only woman in my family that falls into the latter category.) I think it's better if you can grieve right away. It seems like it wouldn't be as disorienting...but I don't know because it's never happened for me like that. So, when I was laying on the table waiting for my first sonogram after 9 films at the mammogram machine on June 29th, I can't explain this but I knew. We hadn't even found the tumor, but lying there on that table one solitary thought ran through my head..."Are we ready for this?" And as quick as the question came so did the answer. "Yes." The rest of that appointment kind of seemed like everyone else in the office was just catching up to what I somehow already knew. The Dr. was a little surprised at my reaction when she told me. I thanked her for finding it like I lost my keys or something, dressed, and left without a tear. I did cry for about 20 seconds when I got to the car, but was finished before I was backed out of my parking space.

So for the last 4-5 days I have been walking around in the most fragile state. It's uncharacteristic of me, so also very uncomfortable. I've been looking at nothing but the floor everywhere I go. I haven't wanted anyone to see what's going on. I've kept to myself when at all possible at work, even tried to do the same thing at church Thursday night. Didn't work, but I made it through. I just haven't been able to put a finger on this emotional state that I have been in. In fact I've pegged it wrong for the last few days as guilt. Besides, with all the stinking pharmaceuticals there's really no reason I could figure it should be happening. I've got a pill for just about anything at this point.

But today my dear friend Sharon came to the Plano campus for church to see me instead of going to Grapevine. I was so happy to see her. We're both too busy to get to do that as much as we should. As soon as she got there, we found the secluded restroom where I proceeded to completely crack into a million little pieces. I pulled it together long enough to make it to the worship center where I promptly fell to pieces again. That's OK in church though. People just think you're unusually moved by the music or something. It all fell into place for me though this afternoon. I've not gone mad as I first suspected. I 'm simply grieving. It took 3 months almost, but here it is.

There's not one thing in my life that hasn't changed since this diagnosis. My responsibilities at work have changed. (That's a good thing. I actually love a new challenge in that arena. And it has nothing to do with stupid cancer!) But at the same time, my plans for the next 2 years have gone out the window. Two years without Mexico...No beach for 2 years? Sounds kind of trivial, but for me it's huge. We've chopped up my body. I have started this year long "repair job" with tissue expanders. (I can't even begin to tell you how weird that whole business is.) The trauma over the hair that I've been whining about is just an outward display of the wreckage that's already occurred in less obvious ways.

Then, today I volunteered in the nursery like I have for almost 5 years. I volunteer in the nursery every weekend. It's part of me, part of my identity. There is nothing more important that I do in any given week. For that hour parents trust us to care for their brand new babies so that they can spend an hour in worship. For some of them it might be the only hour that week they get to spend with God. I pray for those children, their families, their futures. It's the most fulfilling thing I do besides being a mother. And it's work. You sweat, even! Every week I go to the service hot and sweaty! But I love it. After next week, I can't do it anymore. Chemo makes the babies dangerous to me. I won't have the immune system to do it. That was the straw that broke the camel's back today. It put me on the floor. Just one more thing...

Tonight though it's different, I'm OK. I'm still grieving, but not in desperation. I owe that to my mom and her favorite scripture. 2 Corinthians 12:9 is where Paul tells us, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness'." My weakness is necessary. All of the tiny little pieces, a must. His grace IS sufficient, and I'm counting on His strength because I am nothing but weak at this point. Doesn't mean I won't have more days like these, but thankfully it's not my strength that'll put me back together again.


Mimi said...

I'm assuming you got the comment I typed before having to fill this out.

kitykity said...

Makes me think of that song, "Your Grace Is Enough..."

My grief was delayed very much like that when my brother died... but I think you already knew that...

I feel like I haven't been there for you enough the past few days, and I'm sorry for that. It's been a weird week at work. Today was horrid. Tonight I prayed that tomorrow will be better... and if it's not, I'll just be leaning a little further into His arms.

Cassie said...


I'm so glad I got to meet you in the nursery this weekend. And YES! I did sign up for the retreat! Yay!



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