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,
Marie