Thursday, March 28, 2013


Well, friends, we didn't get good news today.  The stubborn tumor still looks the same.  So, Chris will have knee replacement surgery, probably in the next week or two.  One month after surgery, we'll get necrosis results back on the tumor and will have a better idea (allegedly) on prognosis and treatment plan.

It is very disappointing.  We're coming to terms with it.  We went out to eat after we left the hospital.
Hostess:  (very chipper) Are we celebrating something tonight?
Me:  (morbid chuckle) No, we're definitely not.
Hostess:  (still shamelessly chipper) So, you're celebrating each other!  Right this way.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I want to write something clever or interesting or witty about today, but I keep getting confused because it can't possibly be true. Chris isn't going to get a PET scan today. We're not going to the doctor tomorrow to find out whether chemo is working because that's too... something. Except that it is true, and I can't decide which is more surreal: a day when your life changes forever but you woke up expecting normalcy or knowing ahead of time that in 24 hours everything will be different.

Life is not for the faint of heart.

Anchor of Hope

* I've gotten a couple of confused emails, so I think I should clarify.  He is getting his PET scan today.  We'll get the results tomorrow.  I'll post something tomorrow night.  I really appreciate the prayers and concern.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lars and the Real Girl...

STOP.  If you trust me (and especially if you have Netflix streaming), go watch Lars and the Real Girl, then  come back.  It looks vulgar, but I promise it's not.

I love this movie.  Lars is a reclusive, emotionally stunted young man formed and badly damaged by the loss of his mother at birth and his father's subsequent crippling sadness.  His kindhearted sister-in-law and guilt-ridden brother try to reach out to him, but he's all but unreachable until he announces that he has a girlfriend.  They're still thrilled he's interacting with another person until...

Introduction scene

That's right.  She's a sex doll.  He thinks she's real.  He talks to her, worries about her, asks his sister-in-law for clothes for her,...  And this is where the movie could have gone in a completely different direction.  It doesn't go to the obvious place.  It's not crude but tender and full of grace.  Led by Lars' family, the entire town deals tenderly with him.  They don't degrade or ridicule him or write him off as a weirdo.  And, I especially love this part, Lars' church leads the way.  On the advice of Lars' doctor, they pretend Bianca is real.  They give her a couple of part-time jobs.  They take her on outings   Someone gives her a new hairstyle.  There's a fair amount of giggling but no derision.  In the end, they love him out of his need for Bianca.

This movie touched me because it deals with one of my deepest, darkest needs.  (No, it's not a sex doll you weirdo.)  I may look normal...-ish, but I'm not.  Truly.  I only expose the smallest glimpses of my crazy here.  And what I want, at a very deep place, is to be loved and accepted in spite of it.  I want to walk through life holding my sex doll and be dealt with grace-fully.  And guys, the church is flawed in some fundamental ways, but while I've seen some messed up and disappointing stuff in church through the years, in this way, the church has shown up for me.  It's been a refuge and the place where I am accepted in gentle kindness not because I'm well-adjusted and easy to deal with but despite the fact that I'm difficult, more than a little ridiculous, and a lot of work.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:35

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The peace of wild things...

Clearly I'm on a poetry kick lately...

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Escaped to the woods for a kind of peace with my wild things.
Eating cookies in a relatively normal way.
Eating cookies his own way.
Flowers for my hair obtained illegally by my two soft-hearted guys.
Forced to sit and listen to The Peace of Wild Things
Old enough to lug our freight.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We are kind to little boys...

For a Five-Year-Old by Fleur Adcock 
A snail is climbing up the window-sill 
Into your room, after a night of rain. 
You call me in to see, and I explain 
That it would be unkind to leave it there: 
It might crawl to the floor; we must take care 
That no one squashes it. You understand, 
And carry it outside, with careful hand, 
To eat a daffodil. 

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails: 
Your gentleness is moulded still by words 
From me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds, 
From me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed 
Your closest relatives, and who purveyed 
The harshest kind of truth to many another. 
But that is how things are: I am your mother, 
And we are kind to snails. 
This poem is on my heart today, and, unfortunately, it's not because I helped one of my little people rescue something vulnerable.  Actually, it was more the opposite.  They were the snails, and I was stomping around in work boots.  I was a butthead this morning.  I wasn't even a cancer-butthead but a stayed-up-too-late-watching-House-of-Cards-butthead.  I was rude.  I was obnoxious.  I was devoid of basic human kindness.  If one of the boys had been as rude, I would have fired off one of the following,
Do you like it when people speak to you this way? 
Are your words building others up or tearing them down? 
A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Are you acting justly and loving mercy?
Followed eventually by,
Oh my gosh.  Just pick up your work and go to another room.  You've lost the privilege of hanging out with us right now.
Sometimes I need adult supervision - someone to remind me that we are kind to little boys.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An obviously depressed deer...

So I need to pull a Bert and Ernie* and assure you up front that everyone I know and love is fine.  Now I can tell you that, when I woke up this morning, if I'd known I'd be calling 911 and three policemen in medical gloves would later stand in my garage because
(a)  Chris had taken a very serious turn for the worst, or
(b)  A deer had committed suicide in my garage,
I would have, with dread and terror but unshakable confidence, chosen (a).

Friends, you really never know what a day will bring.  The answer is (b).  That's right.  A deer rammed its head through my garage wall and died from its self-inflicted wound.**  This is how it went down:
Me:  Boys put on your shoes.  It's time to go to Double Dave's. 
David:  Mommy, come quick; it's an emergency! 
Me:  I don't care if there's a bug.  Just put on your shoes. 
David:  It's NOT a spider. 
Me:  Is it a snake? 
David:  Mommy, it's a deer. 
Me:  (walking to the garage) (How did he mistake a dog for a deer.  We need to get to the woods more often) 
Me:  (Holy crap!  What in the world do you do with a dead deer?... I am so calling 911 and throwing down my cancer card.)
911:  (very official)  Do you need an ambulance, the fire department or the police? 
Me:  I don't know who I need.  My husband is on chemo, and there's a dead deer in my garage, and I have no idea what to do in this situation. 
911:  (befuddled) ... I don't know either...  I'll send a unit. 
Me:  Thank you so much. 
VNP (Very Nice Policeman) #1:  What seems to be the problem?  (walk to garage)  Huh.  I wasn't sure I heard them right, but there really is a dead deer in your garage...  Animal control will only come for a live animal...  I'm going to call my buddy.  We'll help you figure it out.  Do you have some trash bags?
At this point I had 3 VNPs and heavy duty trash bags from a VNN (Very Nice Neighbor).
VNP#2:  Here's the problem.  Animal control will only come for a live animal, and the game warden won't get an animal off private property.  I guess we could drag it to the street, but they don't work weekends.  It'll stay there until Monday morning...  I tell you what, let's just bag it up and we'll dispose of it for you.

Those heroes among men drove away from my house with a dead deer in the backseat of their car.  Thank you, Harris County Sheriff's Department, for standing in the gap and making it so that I did not have to touch a dead deer today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:34

* In The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, Bert and Ernie come on screen at the beginning of the movie to assure young viewers that Elmo will reclaim his blankie by the end of the movie.
** To more fully appreciate this, you need to know this is the first deer I've ever seen in my neighborhood.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Scenes from the hospital...

Every morning I go downstairs for a latte. Then I pass this sign and have the same conversation with myself.

"Stairs or elevator; stairs or elevator... Nine flights of stairs is ridiculous, plus Chris probably needs you Right Now. But, you're doing a lot of sitting lately..."

In the morning, stairs usually win; in the afternoon it's elevator.

This is my corner by the window with my essentials: cancer psalm, Bible, something by Dallas Willard, poetry book compiled and illustrated by Sarah the Great, daily thoughts from C.S. Lewis, Good Poems for Hard Times, A Memory of Light (book 14 of The Wheel of Time), knitting project, coffee, headlight* - uncool but effective, iPad and headphones because when all else fails, there are six seasons of 30 Rock on Netflix.

Visitors. Jason drives down from Dallas for a day whenever we're in the hospital. Who knew when these guys met as a couple of goofy 12-year-olds that they'd be watching Band of Brothers together in the hospital 25 years later.

And my brother, "I come bearing kolaches and Under Armour underwear. I'm about to change your life." And now on Chris' patient board his preferred name is listed as Chocolate Thunder and his target discharge date is yesterday.

My love. In the past, in difficult times, our marriage was a battleground. Standing together was work - good work, but work. For reasons I don't fully understand but attribute primarily to age** and the mercy of God, in cancer, so far, we've been solidly and restfully on the same team. Our marriage has been a place of rest and healing.

The Lord is good to all
And his mercies are over all his works.

* Thank you Joshua and Nathaniel for the loan.
** I know that 36 and 37 doesn't get you many old age wisdom points, but it's a heck of a lot different from 23 and 24.
*** The prayer shawl in the bottom picture was knit with love by my Gran.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our rodeo clowns...

I have a dear friend who, a few years ago, was thoroughly roughed up by cancer.  Her story involves her precious only child and crappy insurance.  It was just too much.  Really.  Like those fight scenes I hate in the movies when the victim is already down and the bad guy kicks him in the stomach and then stomps on his face.  Really?  He was already down.  Did you really have to step on his face?

I was venting with her about some details of Chris' treatment and decided I was being insensitive and thoughtless because we really do have great insurance.*  So far, they've covered everything without a fight.
Me:  This is completely ridiculous... But I shouldn't complain.  All of this is covered.  It could be so much worse. 
Sarah:  (that good friend kind of irritation that says "Stop trying to be brave and thankful.  You're allowed to be angry about this and I don't need you to be considerate of me right now.")  Oh shush.  Be irritated.  Vent.  Complain.  Although, in a weird way, at the end with Thomas, it did help me to remember that there were people who had it worse.  Most mothers in Africa don't have access to morphine for their children.  If we had lived in Africa he probably wouldn't have had morphine.  It helped me to be thankful for morphine.**
So, in the spirit of thankfulness for morphine, and also because it's rodeo time in Houston...

For anyone who doesn't know, this ain't our first rodeo.  Our first son died an hour after he was born.  We lost our second child when I was five months pregnant.  And now my thirty-seven-year-old husband, father of my four young children, my love, shade of my heart,*** has cancer.  There's a lot to be angry about here.  Seriously, it's not our first rodeo.  For reasons apparent only to God in heaven, my family is in the arena again, and all six of us are riding on the back of a raging bull.  But, for real, there's a lot to be thankful for and not in that fake rainbows and unicorns way.  We have a fiercely awesome group of rodeo clowns.****  Family, friends, acquaintances and people we don't even know have been willing to put themselves out there and wear bright clothes and ridiculous makeup and jump in that arena with us.  That takes courage.  

So, today I'm thankful for our rodeo clowns (particularly our parents who are doing more than I can even say).  Your prayers, notes, gifts, meals, visits, quality time with our boys and even heartfelt offers we haven't taken you up on yet are lending courage and strength to face a pretty scary ride.  

* I think awesome insurance should just automatically go along with cancer.  Side effects of chemotherapy:  hair loss, nausea, fatigue, rock star insurance.
** I'm paraphrasing here.  I'm sure she was much more eloquent.
*** That's for you Wheel of Time fans.  I'm halfway through book 14.
**** Any of my people who just took umbrage at that metaphor - Chris has cancer, so I can compare you to a rodeo clown if I feel like it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Things you're not allowed to do when you have cancer...

Because Chris' cancer is in his knee, he is at high risk for broken bones which made the following conversation fraught with anxiety and suspense that would have been out of place last year...
Chris:  (from the bathroom) AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! 
Summer:  (deep breath, ready to face my new reality, walking resolutely into the bathroom)  Are you okay?   
Chris:  (completely annoyed)  There's water on the floor!?! 
Summer:  (confused because Chris is standing and not in obvious pain)  What happened? 
Chris:  (still exasperated)  I stepped in it, and now my sock's wet! 
Summer:  (relieved exasperation)  You're a jerk!  You're not allowed to yell like that unless it's something real.
So, cancer swoops in again to keep life - even life in the 'burbs - interesting.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The rodeo...

Today I'm exhausted, my stomach hurts, my back aches and my kids are whiny, but glory hallelujah, the culprit is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and not cancer!  Yesterday was our rodeo day.

Bryan busted up some mutton.*

We ate fried cookie dough. If you're wondering whether you can actually improve cookie dough by frying it, the answer is, "YES! You can." It's awesome.

I was much more comfortable with Rand's choice of rides

than with David's.

Thank you, Lord, for a good day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

*More on mutton bustin here.

Popular Posts