I Hope…

A Letter of Love to My Sons on Mother’s Day 

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.  —Robert Browning

my loves

Boys,

Earlier this week I got a notification from Shutterfly that made me literally gasp. As I read “Look what we found for you. Remember eleven years ago?” I scrolled down to see your beautiful faces from one of our many memorable Nantucket vacations…so many years ago. My heart skipped a beat. For a moment I felt that anticipatory sensation on a roller coaster that typically comes right about midway up the chain lift of the biggest hill. You know—when the visual cues of what’s about to go down physically lead to that sinking stomach feel only to be amped-up while going full speed ahead down that amazing hill.

Time has gone by SO fast. It’s overwhelming.

When each of you came into this world, I was in awe of your miraculous perfection and couldn’t believe that God had entrusted each of you to me. It is truly an overwhelming privilege and joy to be the mother of three spectacular boys that God so perfectly knit together in my womb.

From your first steps to your first missteps…I’ve been your biggest fan and supporter. You honestly never stop amazing me. With every milestone each of you have reached so far, I’ve reveled in joy and celebration.

As you continue to grow and thrive, I’m in awe at the amazing young men you’ve become. You each have your own unique personality, your own thoughts and opinions, and your own crazy sense of humor. I embrace the individual uniqueness that makes up Colby, Logan and Lance. I am blessed and honored to be part of your lives—you’ve all undeniably taught me the meaning of true, unconditional love.

Years ago, when I gave you the book and keepsake CD—I Hope You Dance—I prayed that each of you would grow to understand the deeper meanings of these lyrics, and perhaps when you did, I would know that I’d done the best job I’ve been entrusted with—as a Mother.

My prayer remains…

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

Psalm 65:8—The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

I’ll always pray for each of you to be satiated with His perfect plan for your lives. But even when you’re “full” I want you to still hunger and thirst for personal growth. Never stop pursuing your dreams or become complacent where you are. Live a life that has meaning and purpose.

Don’t forget to take it all in. There’s beauty everywhere…sometimes you just have to look a little harder. Don’t become jaded. Instead look for freshness in all that you do so it never grows mundane.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Philippians 2:3-4—Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

First and foremost, may you always know your worth and how incredibly precious you are not only to Him but to me. As your mom, it is my privilege to impart these important truths to you. Throughout your life, always be humble—never having an inflated ego. While I always want you to be confident, humility is even more important. By remaining humble, you are open and receptive to improve. A humble leader is secure enough to recognize his or her weaknesses so growth can take place.

I hope you dance

Jeremiah 29:11—For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Don’t be afraid to take (prayerful) risks in life. You can often accomplish great things by taking risks. Get outside of your comfort zone, never letting insecurities hold you back from taking a chance. There’s nothing worse than saying…I wish I didn’t stay on the sidelines when I had the opportunity to be part of something bigger.

Whatever you do…don’t take life too seriously. Have fun. Laugh often…even at yourself when you make mistakes. Don’t worry about things you cannot control. Enjoy life to the fullest…and dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance

James 1:2-4—Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Struggles and other hardships are an inevitable part of life. Don’t let the challenges of tomorrow consume your “today.” It is often in these hard climbs in life that we learn and grow—making room for future opportunities to help and encourage others going through something similar. Ceaselessly pray on the climb, pray once you reach the top and continue to pray when you’re over the mountain and coasting along on the other side. Pray. Pray. Pray.

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

Hebrews 11:1—Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

God’s handprint is on each of you. Never stop striving to see Him—as He’s always there seeking for you to draw close to Him so he can draw closer to you and encourage you each day.  Never lose the wonder of who He is and what He’s doing around you. Allow your uniqueness to shine through. You never need to change who you are for someone else. You are magnificent exactly as you are.

Time is indeed accelerating—even faster than the biggest drop on our favorite roller coaster. While I want to freeze so many moments and not let them go…I know that I need to make room for so many more to come.

Thank you, boys for always being the reason for my smile at some point in every day.  While I know I can be tough and am FAR from perfect as a mom, I thank God for this gift of motherhood that is both overwhelming and beautiful. Know that I love and adore each of you…always and forever. *Don’t ever forget the words of my favorite book—you know…the one that makes me ugly cry—I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Even though I don’t sing it to you anymore (insert sad face), the words will always be true:

“I’ll love you forever…I’ll like you for always…as long as I’m living…my babies you’ll be.”

Love,

Mom

XOXOXO

Collage 2017-05-12 06_12_26

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

The Doors In Between

Door to Nowhere

There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors.

Jim Morrison

After visiting the Greek islands, not only did I walk away with a deeper appreciation for the architecture—amazingly beautiful structures that all spoke of bygone eras—but somewhere among the thousands of incredible little cobblestone alleyways and whitewashed streets, I got caught up obsessing over the doors.  The mystery and allure of the rustic and charmingly seductive doors in Santorini are in many ways akin to passageways within our own lives—some invitations to great, even sheltered opportunity, while others yet signifying isolated imprisonment, an escape, or even bitter closure. To me all doors seem to speak of the powerful knowns and unknowns encountered in life—perhaps the very reason why I’m so intrigued by them.

Recently, when asked why I haven’t written a post in some time, I realized I couldn’t really blame my hiatus on a lack of inspiration.  After all, I earnestly recognize the daily miracles all around me, including the abundant joy that my three amazing boys deliver—all opportunities to ignite a spark of inspiration to flow on paper.  Instead, I think the heaviness on my heart these last months has been the source of the ink drying in my pen.  As many of you within the breast cancer social media community know, we’ve recently seen several women reach new passageways in the realm of cancer.  While some have opened doors to the unknown dreaded territory of metastatic disease (stage IV), others in the community are at the end of treatment options and have entered the doors of hospice care in preparation.  Saddest still, are the beautiful young women who recently closed their final doors on cancer and are now journeying beyond this world, leaving loved ones gripped with grief behind.  As Jada so beautifully wrote one day before her untimely death at age 36:  “Y se me va la vida….and my life goes away….”

Every three seconds in the US, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer.  All of these people share at least one common thread that ties them together—they are a statistic.  Regardless of stage at diagnosis, we all walk through the unknown door of breast cancer with a 30% chance of going on to develop incurable metastatic disease.  Now I know statistics may seem mundane, but when you’ve been touched by cancer, those numbers are painfully real.  As a “statistic,” I have a vested interest in educating myself and others about this terminal disease and urging people to support research that helps those with advanced breast cancer live longer.  So though the town may be painted pink every October and beyond, and while some in the world perceive breast cancer to be the “good” one, the richly funded one, or even the easy one—the somber reality is that in the US alone this year, we will see an estimated 40,000 deaths from breast cancer.  Yes, that’s one woman every 13 seconds—gone.  So it’s safe to say that though I’m grateful for heightened breast cancer awareness that has come from pink campaigning, this disease is not good—in fact, just like every cancer, it sucks.  As the second leading cause of cancer death in women behind lung cancer, breast cancer is a fierce adversary on the cancer brigade.

Going through photos of my visit to the pearl of the Mediterranean—as Santorini is so deservedly known—awakened that odyssey of cherished memories that live in my heart … memories all scattered in between the doors-galore.  Everywhere stood phenomenal, colorful doors:  doors within doors, doors with seemingly no purpose at all, and my favorite by far, those charming and dreamy “doors to nowhere.”  I get goosebumps thinking about them.  My obsession with these doors was in large part because they were like an unlimited gateway into my imagination, allowing me to see what my mind’s eye envisioned to be on the other side.

My prayer is to find my door to nowhere on this walk, one where my eyes will be fixed on the Lord and my trust in His plan and purpose for my life regardless of what lies before me.  On December 26, 2012, I was evicted from life as I knew it and had to close the door to my pre-cancer existence.  You realize fairly quickly entering this brave new world that you’re forever changed, always wondering where this narrow passageway will lead, one where you feel like one inch in any direction—the walls on either side will come crashing down around you.   In fact, it’s often hard to talk about those feelings, because it’s easy to feel guilty while there are countless other women who have current goals—like seeing their children graduate from High School or even Kindergarten. These women with incurable metastatic disease are part of the 30% to enter Stage IV or advanced breast cancer, and though some will live in treatment for some time, the reality is when you are stage IV, you will die from or with breast cancer.

Occasionally in my circle of close friends and family, I’ll get the question:  “Why you, Nicole?”  Without thought, my answer has always been “Why not me?”  I am no different than the other 10 million cancer “survivors” in this country all going about our lives with a slight pause in our walks, wondering if the cancer is only hiding behind the next door.   As a woman of Faith, however I try—instead of pausing to stop and thank God for being there, for holding my hand on the journey and seeing me through every step of the way.  It’s easier to rest in hope under the umbrella of prayer and thankfulness.  As I once read:  “Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.”

In love … and hope …

Nicole

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:9

Heather Von St. James: A Beautiful Voice in the Wilderness

Dandelion

Purposefully Speaking Loud & Clear on the Lost Voice of Mesothelioma

Because … Hope will never be silent

It’s time now to roll up the pink carpets of breast cancer awareness month … and set our sights on WHITE.  November is National Lung Cancer Awareness month, bringing critical attention to the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States.

I was blessed and honored recently to be contacted by Cameron Von St. James—a hero in his own right … who humbly and passionately takes on the roles of Husband, Father and passionate mesothelioma advocate for his beautiful wife, Heather, as well as countless other victims of this deadly disease.  Cameron invited me to join him on his mission to share their divine family story of hope in the face of this so often overlooked cancer.

The truth is for many people—white ribbons this month represent the very real reminder and sting of experiencing lung cancer either firsthand or through watching a loved one on the front lines battle or even lose his or her life to lung cancer.

Strictly speaking, the “color” white is not really a color at all, but rather a manifestation of the presence of ALL color—the complete power of light.   My earnest hope is that the powerful light of education will shine bright on the face of lung cancer not only for the month of November … but all year.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma lies hidden under the lung cancer “umbrella,” often a lost form of cancer—though deadly.  The cancer cells of mesothelioma can involve the lining of ANY organ, but the typical site tends to be the lining of the lungs.  Tragically, mesothelioma is among one of many cancers that is still considered incurable.  It’s associated with exposure to asbestos—a deadly carcinogen that is sadly, still found in many structures built before its ban by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989.  Even small amounts of asbestos and/or infrequent exposure can create a risk for contracting mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

Heather Von St. James was just 36 years old when she was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma—just three short months after giving birth to a beautiful daughter, Lily Rose in 2005.  Heather and Cam sought treatment at Brigham & Women’s Hospital to undergo a groundbreaking surgical procedure with the goal of delivering the best possible outcome.

Today, Heather is an eight-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and a keynote speaker at conferences all over, in addition to social media platforms … where she thrives on providing continuous support and inspiration to mesothelioma victims around the globe.  Her story is one of hope, faith … and love.

I invite you to meet Heather Von St. James—a beacon of light to so many afflicted with mesothelioma.  Please join her mission by sharing her story with others.  Pouring hope and light through shared education and support is strong advocacy in its most indispensable form.

“With hope, the odds don’t matter.”  ~Heather Von St. James

Watch Heather Von St. James’ Courageous Story Now.

Taking Flight

Red Balloon

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.

Hermann Hesse

Nostalgia.  The very real sense of “homesickness” for things or situations of the past can appear when you least expect it.  It can come in the form of a scent … a sunset … a book … or even a song.  Often, I wonder if the chemo “fog” that so magically formed in my brain has instead given rise to a deeper level of nostalgia—more vivid recall of long ago, forgotten memories.  I find it laughable that mid-sentence during a conversation, my brain can lose focus; yet during a morning “solo” jam session in the shower, the lyrics of a song can send my mind reeling down memory lane on a fast track to childhood.  This particular morning in the shower, lyrics from a song brought to mind a recurring dream I had as a child.  It came to me with such clarity, I could actually recall the emotions I felt as a child … awe coupled with fear.  There I stood, holding a big red balloon.  The very balloon I was enamored by in the dream was also the very object that brought me indescribable fear.  Fear of flight.  There was the fear that as I held tight to the balloon—it  would carry me away … while an equally fearful sense that at any given moment my hand could let go of the balloon and it would take off without me.

Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move toward the unknown—even when we don’t want to or when we think we don’t need to.

During my recent trip to Dana-Farber, I was confronted boldly with the ugly face of fear.  Fear of the unknown … fear of new beginnings … fear of letting go.   

Nine plus months have passed since I was plunged into this unknown, unexpected realm of a stage III cancer diagnosis.  My nonstop mission to do whatever necessary to put this thing in my rear view has sent me on a journey filled with lifejackets in a sea of doubt and confusion.   The lifejackets of chemo, bilateral mastectomy and radiation therapy have kept me afloat, making hope an easier vision.  Now I am left to tread these unchartered waters with Tamoxifen, or as some refer to it:  the little poisonous pill—one I will (hopefully) be swallowing daily for the next ten years.  Needless to say, I left my oncologist that day with little comfort as her simple advice spoke angst in my heart.  She advised me from this point forward I need to be mindful of pain that appears suddenly or lasts longer than usual, any shortness of breath or recurring headaches … etc.  Basically, I left the exam room that day feeling powerless, lonely and filled with a new fear—the uneasiness of fear itself.  Will it carry me away like that big red balloon in my dream so many moons ago?

I once read that love is what we were born with, while fear is what we learned here.  When you begin an unknown pilgrimage … you must not be afraid.  You need to have ample courage to make mistakes.  God uses the tools of disappointment, defeat, and despair to show us the way.

Though I feel as though somewhere along the way, I’ve lost myself a bit, I’m growing and learning to accept suffering as a vital life force flowing through me.  I refuse to consume my present and future moments with the fear of the unknown.  Yes—I’m certainly a work in progress, making many mistakes along the way, but I need to let go … sending my red balloon of fear aloft, knowing that letting go will give me victory moment by moment.

I’m beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and support so many have showered on me.  Now more than ever, I welcome and yearn for your prayers and words of encouragement.

Loads of Love … in hope,

Nicole

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

2 Timothy 1:7

Chasing Painted Ponies

Trip to Heritage Museum 149

Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.

Walt Whitman

Carousels.  Growing up, I never liked to pass up a ride on the merry-go-round.  Even now with my own boys, when an opportunity presents itself, I love to join them for a magical journey on the wooden horses.

What I remember most about carousels as a child … more than the mirrors, lights and creepy organ music being played—perhaps even more than the ride itself—was my need to thoughtfully search the carousel to find the perfect horse.  I loved finding unique characteristics … noble features that would make me feel like a princess (on this roundabout to nowhere).  Of course it was always necessary to find a galloping horse that went up in down.  I remember running to my perfect horse when it was time to get on, and as I looked ahead, I’d often see that overlooked stallion— a spectacular horse I hadn’t seen from afar.  Quickly I’d run ahead, eager to jump aboard my newly found beauty, then just as quickly I’d realize with a sigh, that my new friend is a stationary soldier, one that would not “gallop” up and down—a necessity on the merry-go-round.   Turning back to see my “perfect” horse, it was too late … another rider was “saddled” up for a journey on the majestic horse I had originally longed for.

The past several weeks post-surgery have been difficult.  As physical healing continues to flourish, the mental aspect of everything has really begun to seep in and though in some ways it’s been medicinal, in other ways it’s had a withering effect on my spirit.  I’ve had real time to wrap my mind around what has been … what is, and the unknown future that lies ahead.   Facing the unknown realities of the future often bring to light the significance of some forgotten truths from the past.

People in general have a tendency to long for something they don’t have or simply fail to appreciate the unique characteristics and beauty we’ve each been blessed with.  For me, as a little girl, I hated being a redhead. Though I came to appreciate my locks as I grew older, the moment chemo took all my hair, I not only longed for that long, thick ginger hair to return, I felt real conviction for all the times I didn’t appreciate it when I had it.  In a recent conversation with one of my oncologists, we laughed talking about how we always want what we don’t have.   I shared how I’d complain about my larger breasts growing up, always wishing they were smaller.   We then talked about breast reconstruction and the “silver lining” attached to breast cancer patients’ these days in the realm of options available—having “Hollywood” procedures at your finger tips to reconstruct your body/breasts to be fantastic and “perfect.”   Cue the crickets.  As I stood there dazed and confused … I imagined desperately how wonderful it would be to rewind time and take back all the foolish insecurities and longings I carried, and instead be content with what I had been given.  Silent, my only real yearning:  to have myself back completely, in every way.

Yes, many people do want what they don’t have—until they lose everything they thought needed changing.

During recovery, I spent a week’s respite on Cape Cod, visiting family.  I needed quality time with my boys, time with my thoughts (uninterrupted by the guilt of not being able to run a house as effectively), and most definitely time to get away from the big C . . . even though it unavoidably follows me wherever I go.  There, I was thrilled to spend a beautiful day at a historic museum with my Dad and the boys—one that also happened to have a classic carousel from 1908. Physically not quite ready to ride one of the beauties, I smiled, watching the boys pick out their “perfect” horse.   “Come on, mom!” the boys beckoned me to join them.  Logan, my middle son led me to the loof chariot … y’know that lame stationary sleigh ride that I never quite understood how or why someone would actually choose amidst the horses.  But there I sat, chasing the painted ponies … on a magic machine full of life going around and around—on my chariot.  I beamed watching my beautiful children ahead of me and realized there can be contentment in embracing change and the very real beauty that can come with it.

Radiation is starting tomorrow.  My radiation oncologist needed to make a few corrections, but I’m “tattooed” and ready to go—even had my dry run on Thursday.  Tomorrow begins my official 7-week cycle of daily radiation.  I will be doing what they call a “deep inspiration breath holding” technique to help reduce radiation to my heart and lungs, especially useful, as my cancer is on the left side.

I learned that the word carousel comes from the Italian word:  carosello which means “little war.”  How apropos that this thing called cancer has indeed been a “little” war physically, mentally and spiritually.  As I’m frozen, stationary on my chariot, the world continues to go around.  Thank God I love to travel, or I may have jumped off a long time ago.  Instead, I’m trying to embrace this season on the carousel, where though I may not feel like a princess on my chosen stallion, I can ultimately be content in drinking in the beauty set before me.   I long to appreciate this ride that God has orchestrated … and I plan to embrace the carosello as I continue to chase my painted ponies until the music stops.

Nicole

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.  I know that full well.

~Psalm 139:14

You Just Can’t Overstay Hope’s Welcome

spring

Hope (hōp)

Verb:   to cherish a desire with anticipation

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

~Epicurus

Hope brings significance to each and every moment we encounter.   Without it . . .  there’s no meaning to anything under the sun.

I know it has been a while since my last post.  Truthfully, this month has been a challenge—physically, mentally and spiritually.  Early in the month, I started my new chemo regimen:  dose-dense AC infusions—every other week.   I didn’t realize how emotionally bankrupt I would soon become.  I guess as my blood counts drop, zapping my energy level  like a nuclear missile—my spirit seems to wither too, much like the beautiful,  luxurious flower arrangement my nieces sent my way recently, one I’ve been desperate to keep alive.

Spring.  It’s funny the little things a girl thinks about as Spring emerges:   manis, pedis, new open-toed sassy stilettos  . . . perhaps a new outfit or two.  I covet my yearnings for these things that are simply not to be for me this year.  As I try desperately to hide my hideous nails in public, each one purple and black, lifting from chemo-related blood and infection . . . and my equally hideous, neuropathy-plagued feet, no longer acceptable for open-toed sassy shoes or pedis­­—I indeed feel deprived and sad.  Today, Lance, my 7-year old, in all his sweet honesty, pointed out the other sad fact that my eyebrows are disappearing, the final hair follicles to die.  The simple fact is:  it’s hard for me to have a Spring in my step or outlook these days.

Regardless of my thoughts filled with vain minutiae, Spring continues to unfold and as the crocuses begin to blossom in my yard, it’s impossible not to hear the heralding trumpet of new life spring forth.  With it comes a glimmer of excitement—a hope that day by day the season will continue to blossom, inspiring beauty in its warm welcome.

These days, my life is filled with urgent intention.  In fact, I find myself anxious and depressed when I’m too fatigued to move because I’m afraid I’m going to miss a moment, a great memory I can’t afford to lose . . . a picture that can never be recaptured.  Reflection has become part of my season of change.  Like Spring’s weather, this season of my life is a gentle reminder that I need to be cognizant of the rebirth taking place all around me—those  blossoms that not only take shape in my yard, but in my relationships . . . in my children, in myself.  Just as I need Faith to hold me together, I need hope to push me forward.

Making it a mission to treat hope as a verb, I choose to actively cherish my desires for the future with anticipation.  Spring is here.  It’s the start—a rebirth from seeds of hope.  I must cherish this moment.  This place.  This time.  It knows no bounds . . . you can never overstay Hope’s welcome.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  ~Romans 12:12