Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tangling With Time

Time. We all struggle with it. I've always treated it as precious – along the lines of a resource, not to be wasted. A silver lining of my December surgery and recovery time was that it forced me to wipe my schedule clean. For a few weeks, I was free to repopulate my time/life with only those things that were most important to me. That consisted mostly of time with my sweet babies, loving friends, long-neglected books and my deepest thoughts. For the past few weeks, I have been in the process of wading back into the stream of my life. While I am at nearly the same point on the riverbank, the flow is vastly different in so many of the details. What that river dumps into is much more critical to me than ever before. Throughout my recovery, the elephant in the sanctuary has always been time- the future and how much of it I have.

The question of a time horizon is like a second set of glasses through which I see my world. Recently, my cousin in Croatia was urging me to follow my gut and take a shorter-term view (i.e., live for today) on a financial question in my life. That decision is a microcosm of how I might live in my new reality. Do I live more for today or keep planning for my retirement at 65? Coming out of that exchange, I realized that I am in a position not unlike most of the people I know. These are questions we all ask ourselves and answer on an ongoing basis. None of us know what tomorrow might bring. The main difference is that I cannot deny that fact anymore. I can't live as if my remaining days are countless as I did before - as many of us do.

I know that God has given me many blessings, and they all exist in this moment. The future and past are beyond my grasp. Yesterday and tomorrow are just distractions.
As Matthew writes - " Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ".

I do have a greater focus on the short-term, but that has less to do with the possibility that I might die of my cancer anytime soon. (I don't believe that to be true.) The renewed urgency comes because life is truly short – even the 'nother 42 years of it I am counting on enjoying.

I believe that God put each of us here for a reason. He gave us gifts to use. He gave us a whole world to enjoy. I know what those gifts are and I am trying to figure out what my reason for being is (beyond raising my kids to make this world a better place.) I've been praying for God to send me a big arrow to direct me. In the meantime, time keeps ticking.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Capturing the Lightening

In late November, just prior to my Whipple procedure, several of my closest friends from (Manhattan) College surprised me by joining us at Sunday worship service at our most excellent Church. It was a testament to how precious a good friend is and reinforced how merely being present during a challenging time can be incredibly empowering. During the impromptu brunch at our house afterwards, our resident funny-man sage, Jimmy, and I were discussing how difficult it can be to capture and keep the lightening that a life-changing event can bring to one's life. How easy it is - once the dust settles and the electricity dissipates – to just return to my life as if my world hadn't just been rocked nearly off its' hinges (to mix numerous metaphors).

I am experiencing that a bit now as I return to my "normal" life. Re-engaging full-time in my 9 to 5 professional life once again occupies the majority of my time. The competition of that commitment with the longing to spend a maximum of quality time with Noah and Ana (and Jacquelyn) is rekindled. Besides juggling those two balls, I signed up for a class on Pastoral Care and Counseling that meets on Monday nights. Then there's my adjuvant therapy (chemo, so far) and its' side effects. All of these are rewarding and/or necessary aspects of my life. All jostle for my attention and I wonder sometimes where the life-changing lightening went. I do recognize, of course, that there is a potential "buzz" for me within each of these. With all of the wonder and pain in this world, time is a cherished commodity for me once again – doubly so now. I find myself, even in this revamped life of mine, struggling to carve out the tens of minutes a day I would need to maintain a practice of daily meditation that I am convinced would be a huge benefit to my well being. (Besides continued good health) Maintaining a balance, making the time, prioritizing well – these are the things I pray to God for these days.

In this sense, Jacquelyn may have inadvertently misrepresented things a bit in her last post. In many ways I am not a different person than the Franco that I have been historically, let's say. But…in transitioning from my recovery from a serious abdominal surgery to battling cancer, I have made some changes that I think/hope will stick. I have taken what I thought was a healthy lifestyle (look what that's gotten me) and kicked it up a notch - by choice (as opposed to being medically necessary). I've cut down on a few vices, ranging from French fries on up. During my recovery, I had the time to reconsider and re-learn my approach to so many aspects of my life. Ultimately, I am trying to tend to myself holistically – not just my disease via the medical profession, but my physical well-being through diet and exercise, and my mind/heart/spirit through prayer and meditation and relationships.

At times it feels like I am trying to balance the profound and the mundane. Or maybe it is just that there is nothing mundane left. Maybe there never was. Maybe that's the lesson.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day By Day

Hi all--it's me, Jacquelyn. I realize that it might be confusing as to who is authoring each blog note since they are all "posted by Jacquelyn". But that is because I initially set up the page. Most of the quite elegant writing has been done by my poetic husband.

Today is the first day of Franco starting back at work full time. We had mixed emotions about it--while I/he/Ana and Noah have loved having him home over the past 2 months, it is such a blessing that he is well enough to return. Franco has just finished his first cycle of chemotherapy (3 doses, one per week)--and as he reported a few weeks ago, the only real side effect that he has experienced thus far is fatigue for a day or two after his dose. He has been given a very potent anti-nausea medication prior to each dose, which seems to be very effective in his case. He has this week off from chemo and then will start another cycle of 3 doses beginning next week. His blood levels (i.e. white blood cells, platelets, etc.) are good and if that continues, he will probably have a 3rd cycle of chemotherapy alone before he switches to a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.

If you've been keeping up with the blog, you know how amazingly positive and strong Franco's words are--and I just want to confirm that his actions and way of life match those words. For those of you that know Franco fairly well--you know that this experience hasn't caused Franco to become a different person. I find myself in awe sometimes at how in touch he is with his inner self and how in tune he is with his body. But he has become a little more focused and driven to take care of himself, so that he in turn can take care of his family and all those that he loves.

For me, I have been managing (as I titled this note) day by day. Because I honestly feel that there is no better way. I've read and researched to be informed, but I do believe that ultimately our lives are in God's hands. That which I have control over I try to take care of, and the rest is faith in God that He will enable the best possible outcome. I do admit that I treasure each day more--based on a tougher lesson than I expected to have to live through. But really, I already should have been doing that because who knows what tomorrow will bring...

Each night before we go to sleep, Franco and I take a few moments to thank God for how blessed our lives are. There are so many thoughtful and loving people around us that make it so--thanks to all of you for your continued prayers, support and love. One place that has been especially warm for us during these cold days is in the arms of our church family. They continue to be a light in our journey. We couldn't be happier to have found such a wonderful place to "see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day".

Love to you all,