I'm working on a completely new blog... New URL, layout, design. The works. But with everything else going on, it's a slow process so in spite of trying to hold out and not post (when I've been itching to like crazy lately), I'm breaking down and blogging here until I get the new one up. (Which in all honesty, could take me a month or so at the rate I'm going!)
What are words? What is joy? What is sorrow? Sadness? Happiness? Love? Despair? What are feelings? Emotions?
How deep is grief? How deep is love?
How do we express ourselves to show our true emotions? The things deep in our hearts?
My sister in law, Mark's sister, Suzy (who was my age, 36 (would be 37 now)) passed away after a year long battle with leukemia this past fall, on October 1, leaving behind a loving husband and seven children (and extended family). His niece, Jayna, (Mark's sister's daughter) who had been fighting leukemia during the same time is doing well.
At the beginning of this year, when January 1 rolled around, I exclaimed to myself that this was going to be a GREAT YEAR! Time to grab life by the horns and live it to the fullest! We'd all been shown how fragile life is. We all had been/are going through heavy grief. There is one thing that watching illness like this has taught me and that is life is precious. So much more precious than any of us can truly comprehend with our faulty human hearts. Even going through hard times like this, it is still very difficult to grasp how precious each day really is.
We go around saying, "Life is a gift.", "Life is precious.", "Live each day like it's your last." But we never truly do that. We try. And we may succeed for a short time but then day-to-day life sets in and we forget and take everything for granted all over again. We're faulty and sinful and we forget to treasure every precious moment.
Shortly after I made my proclamation to live life and make the most of 2014, my nephew Paul, who is 9 years old (my sister, Sara's (and Jon's) son) became really sick. Before we knew it, he was being tested for Leukemia. The test results came back that he has Aplastic Anemia and as these past weeks have gone by he has been in and out of the hospital many times with fevers/infections and everything is leading to a bone marrow transplant. Without it, he will die.
His brother, Will, 11, is a perfect match and will be his donor. The doctors say they are very blessed to have a match on all seven levels that they tested for and with this transplant he has a 95% chance of survival. Pretty great odds. But it is scary. He is in the hospital right now as I write this with another infection that he is fighting and they're hoping he is well soon so they can begin the daunting process of the bone marrow transplant.
Unbelievably, a short time after Paul was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Cancer struck again. Boy, do I hate that word. My mom had surgery to remove the cancer about a week ago and is doing well. We are waiting to hear if it is in her lymph nodes or not...
When I told one of our friends that my mom has cancer now, they responded, among other things, "There are a lot of cancer success stories, too. Not everyone dies from cancer." And that was just what I needed to hear at that moment.
It a little bit feels like time stands still when these things happen. And it is an odd thing to feel "experienced" with this type of heavy news. I can't describe what it's like. My best attempt would be that it felt like the sky was falling that first week after finding out about my mom just such a short time after Paul.
Did my nephew and mom really truly get these awful, horrible diseases right after we went through it with Mark's sister and niece...? Does this really happen in life?
It does. My uncle, Bill, married to my dad's sister, Ann, passed away from cancer this past fall as well. And his son, my cousin, whom we all call Zub is also currently battling cancer. (And Ann & Bill lost their grandson not too long ago, as well.) My heart just breaks. It aches and there are no words... how do we comprehend these things? So many dear friends and relatives have been struck by cancer and illness in recent years. (Both of my parents have lost cousins to the disease in the past few months, as well...)
Sometimes it's just so hard to wrap your head around these things. When things are so heavy. How do you truly express those feelings and emotions? There aren't words... They feel so inadequate. The heart holds so many emotions. We feel love and joy so fiercely but what about when we feel sorrow and sadness like that?
Through it all, though, God is there. How could we truly handle any of this on our own? It is in the moments of numbness that you know you are being carried, held up through the darkness. And somehow it gets to the point where you can "handle it" again. And you go on living. Appreciating every day you're given. Appreciating the blessings life has to hold. Holding on to the joy that surrounds you during those times of great sorrow, for there are many moments of joy, too. There is laughter and love and there is warmth and kindness. Blessings galore. And you are changed. Life is so different, how could it not change you? You will never view it the same again, so great is the affect these things have on you.
Life is too big to be just about sorrow or joy. There is both. There is a delicate balance in this life and if you look carefully, you will find them both. Because even in times of great travesty, there is still so much to be thankful for. Love, faith, friends, support, family, kindness, goodness and joy. Life is beautiful and it is a gift. A very, very precious gift.
Because even when the sky is falling, we have to keep on living. We keep holding out for that joy and love. And if we look, we will find it once again and it will uplift us and carry us and get us through one more day.