Kara’s Collection: The Mixed Bag

from an article originally posted on June 12, 2014…

Each day presents us all with a mixed bag to carry, to face, to let go of, and to deal with. We all struggle with our bags. Jesus says a lot about letting him carry it for us, but we all stink at that, don’t we? We may pretend to hand it over, but do we really? My bag is my own idea of how I want each moment to be lived; then these horrible life-stealing events happen and mess up my plans.

Yesterday, oh yesterday, I barely remember you. You were horrible. Horrible. The day before left us so shattered, we had little hope that yesterday would have anything good to offer. Jason and I woke before the sun and took the medicine to quiet my fears and help me through the snort where I’m used to being sedated in. They had no one to sedate me on such short notice. So we attempted it ourselves (with the advice from a doctor—naturally). But I was sent into a fog. Morning scan, afternoon scan, and a dizzying exit from the machine caused such a struggle and, finally, vomit and weep in frustration.

Then I slept, and slept, and slept the entire day away. The kids were in their happy place with friends, and I slept. Jason slept. Then we went, heads bowed, to the doctor. He came to us smiling. I wanted to hit him. Until he said cancer was not in my spine. Then I wanted to kiss him. He did say the lymph nodes are large and pushing upon my spine causing my pain. He also said from his first glance my brain looks clear, that the old place on my brain has not grown.

Jason and I are on this journey exhausted. I’m sure a toast was in order, but our frayed nerves couldn’t manage it. So we simply napped. Our kind neighbor brought dinner, Jason grabbed the kids, my beautiful friend came and gave me a massage, and then we all fell in the bed and watched Man vs. Wild. The kids all snuggled close and held my hand. Their faces were awash with relief. They pressed in close, and I fell asleep again holding the hands of my children. I was certain I could not sleep through the night after having slept the entire day, but I did. My weary body needed the rest.

I woke this morning to the sweet presence of my sleeping guy beside me. He stirred and we looked at each other. We want so much to celebrate this victory, but all we see in each other’s faces is the struggle of the journey. My birthday, July 14, will mark the second year that we have been on this journey. We long for many more years in this battle, but these moments, these harrowing moments wear us out.

This morning brought warm coffee, a visit from friends bearing flowers and pool passes. We have slowly started this day in pajamas and snuggles. We are trying to catch our breath and slowly receive this great news. It is a huge victory to not have cancer in my bones, specifically my spine. HUGE. There was talk of losing use of my legs, needing to spot weld my back, terrible awful things you pretend you don’t hear your doctor say. But he did say it, and Jason and I were sent to a place we simply could not speak.

In all this, I woke this morning to a kind message from a reader asking to be taken off my email feed. She didn’t want to tell me, but she is at the end of her journey with cancer. She was loving her husband by emptying her email so her husband doesn’t have too many details to attend to in her passing. Oh, how my heart breaks for this dear woman. It simply breaks.

So I put on my lace up shoes, I move into the next thing. I encourage my children to read books, and all day I think of this reader and pray. I pray through our own next steps and her last moments. My radiologist wants to use radiation to shrink my lymph nodes and my oncologist wants stronger chemo. Decisions, forever decisions. This life is hard, but it’s also filled with moments—sweet moments that help us face the hard moments. And woven through it all is grace. Jesus, sweetly beckoning us toward himself in it all. He’s enough, he will always be enough.

Where are you today? Where is your story hard to stomach? Where does it feel too cloudy to see Jesus? Who can remind you of grace today? Put on your lace up shoes, move—even when you don’t feel like moving. Capture the best of today, even if you only want to stay in bed and stop. There is love—it’s there—go capture it.

I love you dearest reader! Thank you for your sweet support and endless prayers yesterday. We were carried, absolutely carried through the worst of it. Thank you. Thank you is not enough, but it’s what I have to offer. You cannot know how I love you.