Tonight the air glows a warm shade of orange… that otherworldly brilliance that shines on the right side of a storm. It compliments the browns and deep greens of every tree. Like the whole earth is bathed in amber. The rain falls like an old friend stopping by for a coke, and we just returned home from a casual bike ride to the drug store for some ice cream. All four of us.
And I am well enough to notice and appreciate these things. One year ago, such was not the case.
Two weeks have passed since my last post. They’ve been a good two weeks. Perhaps a busy two weeks, but good. The first weekend was our spring youth retreat. It was only a one-nighter, but I was at the end of my week of prednisone, and didn’t sleep much more than two hours that night. Saturday was already a crash day, and going into it short on sleep didn’t allow me to stick around past noon. But it was still a good weekend. Great, even.
Both the week prior to that and the following were full weeks for me at work. I’ve been able to put more hours in there recently. It’s dizzying at times, but has been a joy reconnecting with the church. The students have graciously accepted me back into the position after a full year of convalescence, and we’ve had some good laughs in the process.
Last week I was privileged to speak for the Association Free Lutheran Bible School’s last chapel. Between chasing Aedan down half a dozen times I noticed the spirit of worship there enough to wish Aedan was sleeping and I was free to indulge. But being a daddy’s not a bad way to worship either.
I still can’t play guitar for long. And when I do for any length of time, I case it with very sore wrists. I expect this to change as aquatics, massage, and physical therapy restore the major muscle groups in my body, removing the stress from the smaller muscles, like those I use while playing guitar. Still I’ve had to (by nature of sheer desire) play some recently. For that retreat and my grandpa’s funeral this last weekend. He loved the harmonica. So I played both at his funeral. I ache later, so much that the pain meds don’t do much, but it’s hard to quit something you love (and something so good) cold turkey. Even just for a season. I miss music. And I ache for the healing of my body. It’s been left a mess by the first four rounds of chemo.
This last weekend I went on a solo silent retreat prior to heading north for the funeral. I camped out at Inspiration Point near Fergus for two nights. They’ve been kind to me there. I was the only person on the peninsula for most the weekend, and the solitude was good. Spent time reading stories of the lives of David, Solomon, and the prophet Jeremiah. Ate broiled walleye at a nearby restaurant. Hiked up Inspiration Peak. And drove the back roads of central Minnesota listening to John Piper’s Job Poems: “The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God.” Just like I did last year. Just before cancer reared its head. The poems are a work of art. An inspired work. Do your insides a favor and find it and listen to it whenever you get a chance.
Then another two days with my family in Roseau: beautiful weather, and just enough time to chat and laugh and love and be loved by the folks who’ve known me longest. The only bummer was Jen and the boys weren’t able to make it up there with me. My brother and I took care of a minor problem my mom was having with disappearing flowers (notice trophy photo). I actually felt really bad about it until my sister said something like if she could shoot a gun she’d have shot it. That was my sweet little sister. You’d think these were vampire bunnies or something. They were eating Mom’s trees. That is a big deal. So I came home a hero. Forget that I somehow beat cancer – I saved Mom’s flowers.
Boy it was good to be home! And to feel well while there. It’s been a long time. Even Easter just over a month ago I was there, but I wasn’t well. Couldn’t even hold a golf club then for the pain in my wrists. And as I mention this, I realize that all this writing isn’t the best thing right now, either. I wrote four pages this past weekend in an effort to recap the lessons of this last year. Sent it out yesterday as a letter to the masses. If for whatever reason I didn’t have your email addy and you’d like to read it, it should be posted soon as a link from my “Cancer” page. Otherwise, send me an email and I’ll forward one on to you.
As a brief rundown of current stats: I’m on a pretty slim regimen of huge amounts vitamins, Crohns medications, and daily narcotics for pain in my hips and lower back, legs, shoulders, and neck. My last chemo was nearly three weeks ago as an infusion. I’m scheduled for another the first Monday in June. That week will also be the reintroduction of one of the chemos that has been so hard for my body to handle, but at a reduced dose. I’m to do this through May of 2007. Next Friday I’m being scanned for traces of the cancer, and to determine whether I’ve got any signs of osteoporosis due to the steroid therapy. I told the youth group that I’d be in a hospital gown for four hours Friday morning. I don’t look good in hospital gowns. They’re too big for me. But who does look good in hospital gowns?
So I’m happy these days. Though often tired, and regularly in a good deal of pain. The first two weeks of every four-week cycle are a little tricky emotionally as a side effect of the steroids, but beyond that, and even then, the overriding emotion is one of hope and expectancy, and gratitude for what feels a bit like a second chance.
Thanks for checking in. Next post will likely be on the other side of those scans.
PS. We’ve posted two new free downloadable mp3s. One’s my most recent song offering, written before Christmas of 2002; it’s a poem that compares the synthesis of heart and mind (the acutality of faith) with C.S. Lewis’ “Strawberry” the horse getting wings and a new name. You can find that one on the music page (“Fledge”). The other’s a message I gave at our church during Lent. That one’s on the homepage. Enjoy.