Promises Live on the Other Side of the Rain

Rainbow

There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.

Aeschylus

I’ve been sporadic at best in blogging, but in all honesty life has been anything but mundane.  In fact “blur” is the only four-letter word that could adequately describe the past month and a half—well perhaps not the only four-letter word.

My family is still reeling from two harrowing losses, only three days apart—my Grandmother, the matriarch of our family and her youngest daughter, Dolores, my Aunt who was only 53 years old.  The shock is still fresh—with the chaos of funeral arrangements and such, making it both easy to compartmentalize the grief while simultaneously making it hard to focus on the heart’s cry.  I often feel like my life is sadly akin to my drafts folder—those half-articulated writings I fully intended to finish and publish, but instead they sit, waiting hopelessly for my procrastinating hand to press send. My drafts folder in life seems to consist of the many thoughts and pain, those areas I’ve started to deal with, but instead put them on the mental back burner.  I guess some things are just too overwhelming to take in all at once.

Rain.  I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the rain.  It can be the very sound of comfort and nostalgia, rhythmically helping me relax and sleep at night. Yet rain, when you’re seeking solace under the warm sun—becomes disheartening at best.  Though we can’t predict the weather, I can always predict disappointment when you wake up on your first day of vacation, to grey skies and the sound of rain pouring down on the roof.  Over Spring break I arose to such a morning on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  It may sound childish, but inside I had a bit of a mental temper tantrum.  I so desired some long overdue down time for the entire family—sunny opportunities to escape the responsibilities and realities of daily life as we know it.  The rain was killing my buzz.

The Outer Banks was my escape plan.  When you receive a cancer diagnosis, everyone in the family receives a cancer diagnosis.  There, I planned to be still and enjoy beach life, while also taking a bit of time to reflect on the past year and a half—the challenges of treatment, and the challenges and triumphs of balancing family, work, life … and cancer.  I was excited for my entire family—even my sweet German Shepherd, Miles—to finally get away from our chaotic daily routines and instead enjoy sun-filled, fun days … away from it all.  My disappointment was soon turned around as the weather became sunshine and blue skies, blessing us with beautiful days amidst a surreal backdrop of fantastic beach and dunes.  The promises and desires for that Spring family holiday lived boldly on the other side of the rain, and I will forever cherish the memories made.

Unfortunately, it was during one sunny day on our Outer Banks’ adventure that the phone call came in from Maine, informing us that both my Grandmother and Aunt were brought to Maine Medical Center, both in critical shape.  We learned my Aunt had been brought into surgery to help stabilize blood clots that had formed around her lung and heart.

In the few days to follow, they managed to stabilize my Aunt and she appeared to be doing well enough to leave the intensive care setting to a regular hospital room.  My Grandmother, however, had reached a point of finality in her long journey with Leukemia & rare blood disorder.  After two and half years of (often weekly) blood transfusions, she was worn out.  She informed her doctor she was done with treatment.  We all knew some day ‘that day’ would come … but it’s never easy when it does.  We all stood coping with the realization that Grammie would decline quickly without her transfusion and would now be entering Hospice care—in a long-term care facility in Portland.

Two days before my Aunt’s untimely death—Michelle, my Sister, captured the phenomenal rainbow pictured in this post, outside my Aunt’s hospital room window.  My Aunt was fascinated with its beauty and in a short call with me and my boys that same evening, she said, “Just think, I’ll be going home, good as new on Tuesday.”  I believe in my heart, that is just what she did.  As the ambulance arrived to move her to rehabilitation Tuesday afternoon, amazingly to the same long-term care facility my Grammie was in, my Aunt coded. Gone at 53 years old.

She did go home as good as new that day to a place where she will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint … have a clear mind—no longer battling bipolar-depression.  Physically and mentally, free at last.  We all joined together around my Grammie in those final days still trying to exhale the shock of my Aunt’s death.   My Grammie went home to be with the Lord three short days after her baby girl.

We celebrated their lives in one service together…as they always were—together, for the past 53 year.  Our hearts ache, though we find comfort in the knowledge that they are forever intertwined in Heaven—free.

My sister and I gave the eulogy at the service, and though difficult, we felt compelled to share our hearts even though we knew without a doubt we would fail to perfectly articulate the immeasurable and indescribable Mother, Aunt, Grandmother, Sister, Cousin, Great-Grandmother, Niece and friend found in the two beautiful women who have been an integral part of our family our entire lives.

Grief is the price we pay for love, just as it is impossible to capture the rainbow without the rain.  Though I know I will find myself searching the crowds for their faces for years to come … the truth is I am blessed for the love and rich memories I will forever hold in my heart.

I am honestly not inviting you to a pity party, but my life has been seemingly under torrential rains since the dreaded day I heard the words ‘you have Stage III breast cancer.’  Tomorrow, I face the long reconstructive surgery exactly one year from the dreaded bilateral mastectomy.  Though I would be lying if I said I’m not a bit nervous to undergo such a big operation … my heart’s desire is that it will bring me one step closer to seeing the beautiful promise only a rainbow can bring … on the other side of the rain.

Your thoughts and prayers for a seamless procedure and recovery are greatly appreciated.

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

Ezekiel 1:28

16 thoughts on “Promises Live on the Other Side of the Rain

  1. My comments all seem to echo the same thought… What a beautiful gift you have to articulate the pain, suffering, and triumph in the midst of battle. You are a poetic warrior, filled with unbelievable strength found in your Savior. I love you dear friend, and you and your camp of men are going into this surrounded by many prayers. XO

  2. You are always in my prayers, but will be more so tomorrow! My heart aches for you in the loss of your Gram and Aunt Dolores, both wonderful women, who I am honored to have known! xxoo

  3. I am sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother and aunt. We lived in NC for 3 years and have wonderful memories of the Outer Banks. I will be thinking of you tomorrow. As someone who has had double mastectomy and reconstruction I know a little of how you’re feeling. The most helpful thing I found to do was just remember to breathe. Breathe in love, breathe out fear….

  4. Nicole-  I am thinking of you today and sending all positive vibes your way.  You will get through this and in the end, you will be staring in that rear view mirror looking at all of this as a distant memory.  I always think of you with that rear view mirror thing.  We were placed on this journey without a paddle and without a choice.  You are making it across the lake and I promise that you will make it across.  Stay strong my friend.  XXOO  Lauren 

  5. Nicole,
    I am so sorry for your many losses, but heaven has surely gained a couple more saints!
    Know that I do miss you , but you are certainly in my prayers, as well as many others, please give a BIG hug to those precious boys of yours, I am so grateful for these “blogs” of yours, otherwise, I’d never know about anything that’s going on!
    “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to bless you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
    Love you’
    blessings,
    Judy Tufts

    1. Awww, Judy…thank you so much for your beautiful note. I’ve been bad at updates of late, but soon I’ll be back on the writing horse. You closed your note with my life verse: Jer 29:11. Praise God. You are loved and missed. xoxo

  6. Hi, Nicole. You have been through so much! The Lord is especially near to the brokenhearted and will never leave nor forsake you. I am praying for your comfort and consolation in the Holy Spirit and certainly for the Great Physician’s continued care for you as you undergo surgery and every other part of this process. That awesome rainbow is a very special and real message to you and yours from the Living God. The suffering of this life cannot be compared to what the Lord has prepared for you and your dear ones. Love, Linda McMorrow.

    1. Dearest Nicole, through buckets of tears(as your blogs touch me to my core) I am able to respond & to thank God that your surgery was a success & to remind you that I continue to pray for your well being. Stay strong & pull strength from the love that surrounds you & know that you are prayed for daily & admired by many.This surely has been a sad & difficult year but as you’ve said we are so blessed w/ so many fond memories of family holidays & gatherings & w/ great pride I say ,amazingly enough, I can’t remember a holiday where there was a hint of an argument or disagreement.. We now have two angels hovering over us sending their rays of love, strength and kindness.. and we are blessed.. Love you and know that I am here.. A. Vicki

      1. Aunt Vicky…you’ve been through SO much this year, and still manage to be an instrumental ROCK on my journey! I love you so much and pray that even though we have a HUGE void in our lives—we will begin cherishing all of our memories by keeping them alive…even as we start our new traditions.

        xoxo

    2. Linda, thank you so much for your heartfelt support and encouragement throughout this journey. I so hope that I will be used richly in blessing others going through the battle. All too soon…we will see His promises in full. That, I look forward to the most! xoxo

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