Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Being alive

Still Joe... (seems I've highjacked Lynn's blog - I hope that you and she will pardon me)

Jacob woke up over an hour ago to tell me that he had a bad dream.  I walked him back to his room, tucked him in and sang him a song.  He was asleep again in moments....  I'm still awake.... with my mind racing.  I've stolen some of Lynn's Ativan, and I'll soon sleep too.  In the meantime, I wanted to put to paper some things that I wanted to say to Lynn.  Of course, there are things in these circumstances that are too private to write in so publicly.  But I have some philosophical thoughts that, while some are deeply personal, seem like they could be okay and applicable to whatever place you may find yourself.

In a phrase, I want Lynn to live.  Of course, that means the literal sense that I want her to survive, to beat this illness and to enjoy all the experiences of a long life that we all anticipate.  But I also mean it in  an immediate sense that I hope she can attain even if we don't get to enjoy this life together as long as we had hoped.  I want her (and us, all of us no matter how affected by this or whatever other crisis may afflict us) to get out of every moment every bit of life that is available in it.

It would be stupid and insensitive for me to communicate this sentiment as an expression that she should not ever be sad, to just buck up and be happy.  There are moments when grief is the most living feeling that we can experience.  Most of the time, I've settled into a management mode of helping to keep track of medicine and to learn of methods (both conventional and "integrative") that could help Lynn to become healthy again, not to mention keeping up with my occupation and managing the everyday affairs of the home [many thanks to all of you have helped in those regards].  The moments that I've been least alive have been when I have numbly went about my busy work without feeling a thing.

I've had my moments.  Holding Lauren's hand while she cried herself to sleep the night that we told the kids that Lynn was sick again.  Random moments: losing it for no apparent reason one morning when getting ready for the day.  There was one morning when, instead of my normal exercises that I've been doing (trying to take care of myself), I laid flat on the floor and performed some simple yoga relaxation exercises that I learned in a college class.  I listened to a Pandora station playing the kind of soothing New Age music that you might hear in a massage parlor.  A song came on titled "Saying Goodbye".  In that relaxed state with all of my guard down, when I saw the title I wept as I had not wept since the days almost twenty years ago that I grieved my mother's unexpected passing.  When my weeping had passed, I was able to resume and finish the exercises with a clear spirit, cherishing the things that have been lost, could be lost and (we hope) may be regained.  I also felt keenly how so many blessings that I still maintain and felt joy for them mixed with my grief.

Moments to acknowledge our fears and sadness seem healthy and cleansing as long as we do not let them consume us.  Honestly facing those deep emotions allows us to connect to the values of why they are so deep.  If you never grieve over a thing lost, you never really valued it.  And I think that a person incapable of grief may also be incapable of truly valuing the good things in life.

On the other side, I suppose that a person too filled with grief could be similarly accused of not valuing the good things that surely must remain.  Joy seems a much more valuable and positive way to express the value we assign to our blessings.  It's hard as well as inappropriate to judge what is the proper mix of these polar emotions in hard circumstances.  If we think that a loved one has too much grief and not enough joy, we may share in their grief and do what things we can to introduce joyful moments.  I promise to do that, to grieve when that is what's needed and to introduce moments of joy by word and action in every other moment for which I have the energy.

Lynn has been courageous in her response to her illness.  There is no rebuke meant in any this.  Nor is there any particular thing that Lynn has said or done to prompt this flow of thoughts.  I have been heartened to see her be healthy enough to entertain friends and to spend time with family.  There have been other times when she has not felt well enough to do those things, and all of those who love her hopefully respect how she has been working through her grief, physical ailments and every other mix of emotion and pain that is so personal to her.

I fear that my thoughts have rambled, but I'll leave this as a stream-of-consciousness piece (maybe the only possible writing style at 4am).  To give some closure to my wandering thoughts, I intend to cherish life no matter how it is served or who is allowed to share it with me.  If the contemplated nutritional lifestyle changes work, I am hopeful that we will enjoy levels of health and fitness greater than we knew prior to Lynn's illness.  We may fear that she could live but with lingering serious health concerns.  If that is the outcome, I promise to find ways for us to live with the most dignity, love and joy that can be had by the circumstances.

And if cancer takes my dearest best friend, I will draw near to my children.  I will keep my friends close.  And I will grieve.   I also know from experience that grief does not last forever.  Though I remember and cherish my long passed mother, I only remember her now as a warm positive part of who I was and who I've become.

Lynn wants to be more than a memory!  I will fight to help her.  But if we live in fear of the bad outcomes against which we hope, we will never truly live.  Grieve and fear when we must.  But let's be sure to push grief and fear aside and have joy while the sun lasts (as it soon must rise whether I sleep or not!).  It's not enough to maintain a living, healthy body.  I want to live, to exist and to be happy in whatever circumstance I find myself in this life or in the next.  I hope that Lynn and all of you who are so dear to me can share this philosophy with me (wandering as it must be) and squeeze all of the joy out of the lemons that have been given us in life!


  1. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Andi (Andrea Clark-my sister-in-law) asked us for some advice on food as she knew we went to Dr. Aukerman as well (for over a year now-my husband Doug is celiac). If we can help please let us know. We have experienced losing our fathers, mothers (one to gall bladder cancer and one to breast cancer), as well as our 2 mos. sweet baby girl Gracie spending time with our parents until we see them someday again. You will continue to be in prayers and you walk this journey day by day, left foot, right foot. We pray for God's healing, Peace and for Jesus to put His loving arms around all of you. Love and Blessings, Doug & Pam Newman

  2. What a beautiful expression of your feelings, Joe. Thank you for sharing. We continually pray for you, and will pray that Dale Lynn can live in every sense of the word. Love, Candace and David