Help when we ask for it

When I was in bed on chemo, I fantasized about what I would do if I had blocks of time where I could move around freely and think more clearly, and where my schedule wasn’t bound by doctor appointments.

Now that I am on a holiday from chemo, I’m not really doing anything “big.” Mostly, I spend the time doing more of what I was already doing, like driving the kids around or running errands. I find it liberating to be able to plan for any day of any week, rather than only agreeing to do things that accommodate my chemo schedule or fit my prediction of good days.

At the start of my chemo holiday, I optimistically assumed that every day would be a good day. So I joyfully and confidently volunteered to lector at two Masses over Easter weekend: The Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night and the 10 a.m. Easter Sunday Mass. Of course I would feel good!

My assumption, however, was wrong.

On Friday night before Easter, I had a painful intestinal obstruction resulting in approximately 2 hours of sleep. I fumbled through the next day’s hair appointment and childcare, figuring that I would rest at some point.

Of course, Saturday evening arrived without a chance to rest beforehand.

The Easter Vigil Saturday night Mass would be about two hours long. I decided that, if I needed to, I could leave after I did my part.

However, once I did my part, I realized that my energy was holding up. I actually stayed for the entire service. I may have been lifted by the spirits of the crowd, but I also believe that grace steps in and carries me when I really need it.

Once home and in bed, I suddenly had pain from tumors and AGAIN couldn’t sleep. The last time I looked at the clock, it it was 5 a.m.; the kids woke us at 6 a.m. filled with Easter excitement. I was slow to rally on three hours of sleep over two nights.

The boys opened their baskets and hunted for Easter eggs. Then at 9:00 a.m., I headed back to church. I had two roles that morning:

  1. Stand at the door and welcome people as they arrived and
  2. Lector during the Mass, which included reading two readings, out loud, from the Bible.

On the drive to church, I worried. Could I stand long enough to greet people as they arrived? And, could I read aloud? My voice is getting stronger, but it is still weak from chemo. It often has a strained tone that is hard on the ears, and it cracks and skips as I speak. When I am tired, it sounds even more strained.

I wanted to deliver a good reading to the overflowing Easter crowd. I wanted to vary my tone and expression, so that anyone listening had at least a chance to get something out of the readings, but I had little control over my voice.

As I drove, I talked with God. I told Him that I wanted to do this for Him and that I know that He always comes through and carries me when I need it. But this was cutting it close.

Then I thought about the event we were celebrating: Easter. I wondered if Jesus had a similar conversation during the crucifixion. Did he think, “I have more teaching to do to spread Your word. I haven’t reached everyone yet. This isn’t looking good. I know You will take care of me but this is cutting it close.”

Did he know that his answer would come three days later? Or did he feel like, okay, this is it?

While my problems are nowhere near crucifixion-size, this did help me to feel more like, whatever happens, God can save it. He can take whatever we offer and use it for good.

I was able to stand and greet people. When I read, my voice still had a funny pitch and it cracked, but it was there. It wasn’t what I imagined as perfect but it all seemed to come together well enough that, hopefully, everyone present got what they needed on that Easter Sunday.

Thanks for your prayers and for helping me to get what my family and I need. This situation is not what I imagine to be perfect, but it does seem to come together well enough that we generally get what we need, when we need it.

Now that I have a bit more time available, I’m so happy to be able to help others. I still believe the good moments far outweigh the difficult ones, and that we can be carried through the difficult moments when we ask for help.

I hope that your moments are beautiful, and that if I can help in any way, please give me the honor of stepping into that opportunity.

Blessings and light,
Marie

There is fun, and then there is fun

Thank you for all the energy you send my way. It enabled me to travel to Pittsburgh with my family, to celebrate Easter with my parents and siblings and partners and cousins and friends. A two-day trip would normally be crazy and unthinkable, with everything that gets packed into that, but your support enabled me to do that.

On Easter Sunday night, at bedtime, I laid in bed with my younger son. As part of their bedtime routine, I like each boy to reflect on his day and think about what he is grateful for. I also like them to give thanks to God for those same things, though sometimes that part pushes my luck with their patience.

Neither boy is the reflective sort and they find this exercise tedious. Still, I persist, posing the question in various ways.

Tonight’s version was, “What was your favorite part of today?”

As I waited for his answer, I mentally ran through his day. We all slept at my parents’ home, so the kids woke in the same house as their cousin. They had a special breakfast made specifically with them in mind and received Easter baskets of goodies and gifts from my parents and their aunt and uncles. We went to church (granted, not a potential highlight when you are seven years old) and they ate cookies and cake and special treats throughout the day. He put on a gymnastics and dance show with his cousin.

Midday, a friend of mine arrived in a convertible BMW and took our son for a fabulous fast ride in her car. His grin was non-strop and I don’t think it was the power of the wind against his face.

He didn’t reply so I asked him again, “What was your favorite part of today?”

“Tonio.”

Late in the afternoon, my cousins arrived, bringing their two boys. Their older son is a teenager and did a fabulous job of playing with his younger brother (Antonio) and my younger son, who are close in age. My cousin and sister and I sat on chairs in the backyard and watched while they played football and freeze tag and lots of other games where you run around a lot. The balls would go over the hill, and the boys would race each other down the hill over the brambles to get the ball, then race back up again. Their clothing gathered grass stains, and the feet of my barefoot son were so dirty that we couldn’t scrub them clean in the bath that night. Both of my cousin’s boys are amazingly easy-going and fun, and they laugh easily. It felt idyllic.

Because it was the last big event of the day and everyone left barely an hour before this, I attributed his answer to the recency effect. So I pushed. “Easter candy?”

“Tonio,” he said again, definitively.

“Gymnastics?”

“Tonio.”

Riding in the convertible?

“Tonio.”

Though it had been a great day overall, clearly the best was the connection he made and the physical fun he had playing outside with someone he adores. Okay. Tonio.

I know that I get so caught up in what I am trying to get done that I often put off that physical connection and that fun. This was a good reminder for me to refocus.

Thank you for connecting with me, for being open to my connecting with you, and for enriching my life.

I send you wishes for a beautiful week, filed with the absolute joy and love of connecting with someone amazing.

Love,
Marie

Come together

Christmas 2013

For Christmas, we travel to Pittsburgh to be with my family. Every year, we attend Mass together on Christmas morning, and every year, the kids practically whine, “WHY do we have to go to Mass?”

Usually, I feel crunched for time and rattle off some quick response along the lines of, “Do you know why we celebrate Christmas at all?” or “You got all these great presents and you can’t give an hour to God?” Even if the kids stop asking and move toward the door, I’m sure that answer doesn’t satisfy them any more than it satisfied me at that age.

Outside of Christmas, I sometimes wonder about the difference between attending a service with others or praying (or whatever) individually to connect with God. I do believe that God is everywhere, and we each have our own way of making connections. But still, I feel moved in a different way after gathering in a group or even acknowledging as a group that something is special.

I recalled a rare Easter Sunday visit to Pittsburgh, years ago. As my husband and I drove from the airport to my parents’ home, I realized that it felt like Easter but didn’t know why. My husband, craving a bagel, realized that all the bagel shops were closed and in fact, there were very few stores open at all. He found it odd and a tad inconvenient, and I suddenly felt like the whole city was celebrating Easter together, setting it aside as special from any other Sunday.

This Christmas, I received a note from a friend that reminded me of “The Vibe.” The short version is this: I once managed a project team where, at every weekly meeting, we would come up with a vision of what needed to happened in order to move our work forward in the best way. Though the vision might feel outlandish to our logical minds, our only criteria was that it had to resonate emotionally in the gut of every person in the room. Surprisingly, we came to a quick consensus every week, and every week, our logically outlandish vision came about. (If you want more of a description, I wrote a post about it here: The Law of Attraction.)

Recounting these random memories to a friend, she pointed out that in each case, there was the power of a group joining together, directing our emotional and spiritual energies toward a single vision. And maybe that is a big part of our human experience on earth: To connect with each other and to that which is larger than ourselves.

Perhaps it is similar when you pray for me. Thank you for coming together as part of a larger group. Together, your prayers and good will have power beyond just one person. Your vision of a healthy life for me moves my life and make it all more real.

God bless you.
Marie