Sitting with the darkness

Last year, my friend Katy introduced my heart to the importance of bearing witness. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep and started to worry about life, it helped to feel my immense gratitude for your bearing witness.

Knowing that you bear witness to my life astounds me, as I have a hard enough time bearing witness to my own trials and tribulations. My specialty is to find the sliver of light, not to sit with the darkness.

My last chemo session was full of darkness so I wasn’t excited about going into my chemo session for this past week.

Typically, my appointments at Dana Farber start with a blood draw and getting ready for the infusion, followed by a meeting with my oncologist. My oncologist has a nurse (or nurse practitioner, or someone with some medical title) named Mike who can also handle these appointments, and this past week, I met with Mike for the first time.

Mike was nice though I was skeptical about the value of his role. It is an appointment I need to have on my way to get chemo, so I go. When he asked about my most recent chemo experience, I shared my litany of complaints, not looking for a solution, only so that he would have them for the record.

Then, I started to cry. This is unlike me. In the past, I have held it together to the point of vomiting. But, there I was, full of tears. And I was not happy about it.

“Getting people to cry is my specialty,” he said with sincere warmth and a hint of humor in his tone. He simply sat with me for moment before continuing. “In my experience, patients who sit with the darkness truly discover how strong they can be.”

I hate sitting with darkness and I don’t really want to discover how strong I can be. But then, I’m dealing with many things that I don’t really want, so I might as well add that to the list.  And maybe there is some sliver of light to having to sit with all that darkness. Mike shifted my perspective ever so slightly, and the view was better.

This chemo session went much better, too. I got to meet Debbie in person – someone I met via my blog who not only lives in the area but happens to see the same oncologist AND have some of the same friends!

As for the treatment itself, I accidentally skipped taking the steroids, which makes me much easier to be around. Nausea much better. No back spasms. Best of all, I still feel somewhat like myself. Big yay!

My energy is starting to climb again and I am looking forward to a good week ahead as we get back into the school routine for the boys.

I send much love and gratitude your way. Thank you for being there, for sitting with me in the darkness, and for bearing witness all along the way.

Blessings to you always,

7 thoughts on “Sitting with the darkness

  1. I enjoy your sliver of light ability. It’s a gift. The dark places abound in this life so to be in the dark and see it,too, as holding light is even better. Giving thanks for the light. Thanks for the dark. Somehow.

  2. Mike sounds like a good dude. Amazing to me how you keep discovering people who aid you, teach you, and are there for you–often at times when you most need it. Lucky you, Marie; you both attract and bring out the best in people!
    Much love….

  3. I was so happy to finally meet you this week. I grow and learn from your strength Marie. I hope we can sit together in 9 days.

  4. Echoing Charmi, I also am so happy you continue to meet people like Mike that help you at times you need them most. I was praying that this second round of chemo would be easier on you than the previous – glad to hear that it was! Have a good week with the excitement of school startup. Hopefully your kids’ excitement & sky’s the limit optimism of a new school year will be yet another sliver of light for you to focus on as you are occasionally forced to sit in the darkness. The first day of entering kindergarten & pre-school kid-life milestones on Tuesday are the big excitement around here to balance out the worry of my impending PET scans etc… Yet another reason kids are such a blessing – they can be huge beacons of light in the darkness!

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