Let go…

As I told the kindergarten kids at lunch yesterday, I love to learn new things.  And just because you’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean you stop learning.  Nope, you get to learn new things all your life!  The kids yesterday were so fun, and sweet, and eager to read stories and to learn.  Although I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed until 10 (and I’m horribly embarrassed to admit that, but I promised to tell you the truth), I went to recess/lunch duty anyway, and was rewarded with a much-improved outlook and extra energy that allowed me to keep both my physical therapy appointments (an hour for the lymphedema, an hour to deal with the back spasm and rotated vertebra that caused such pain this week/end) in the afternoon.

I’m not in particularly good shape, you see.  I’m in week 8 of my 18 weeks of #chemo2010.  The side effects are at once predictable and bothersome.  It’s nothing compared to what some friends have had to go through lately to fight this beast, but still it weakens me.  It tires me out.  It makes my feet blister and peel and eventually hurt when I walk.  It deadens my taste buds, and it makes it hurt in my bones, so that I don’t feel like moving at all.  But I know it’s for my own good, and the chemo is fighting the cancer cells scattered in my body, and even the lump that I’m worrying over, the one I have biopsied next week, should disappear as it succumbs to chemotherapy.  It will be worth it. 

Next Spring, when the buds appear on the trees and the forsythia in my back yard bloom, and I’m here to see it, it will be worth it.  I have to hold on to that, the hope that I will be here and healthy and myself again in the Spring.  If I let that go, I’m toast, and I know it.  So I hold on, and I believe, and I (try to) cherish every day, just in case.

The difficulty is dealing with today.  I want so much for everything to be normal for my kids and for my family.  I want so much for them not to notice, for me to just be Mama who takes them to school, not the Mama who is sick in bed and tears up a little bit at their happy kisses when they come home from school.  But sometimes I am that Mama, and that’s ok.

“That is ok,” says my three-year-old, as he scurries to me if he hears when the pain and sorrow leak out, like the chemo leaks out my feet and hands when it’s done with me.  “It’s ok, Mama.”

It is okay.  It is good, even.  Three years ago, when I was in chemo the first time, I didn’t think I’d live to see the Fall.  It was horrible.  This time, I have more confidence, but I am letting go of the certainty that I won’t still be on chemo when Spring comes.  I may need chemo for longer; I may need it forever.

But that is okay.  I’m still here.  I’m still the mother of my children, and I still cuddle them to sleep at night, reading Richard Scarrey and picture books — and just one more Encyclopedia Brown story — until 8:00.  I am doing what I can to make it to tomorrow and tomorrow and the Spring.

I’m learning to let go of what doesn’t matter, and things beyond my control.

If you come to my house, there may be stuff piled on the table by the door.  The laundry may not be completely done and put away.  I may be in pajamas or soft sweatpants, and I’ll probably be out-of-breath when I come down the stairs to greet you.

But I’ll be here, and I’ll be happy to see you.

The rest of it can wait.  The rest of it is not important. And the big questions — will I live?  Will it always be this way? Will I always be frustrated by my body’s limitations while my brain still works perfectly well?  Will I ever be strong enough to commute to a job downtown, or must I only do contract work from home, satisfying my brain’s analytical needs while acquiesing to the limitations of my body? — these questions are out of my hands.  After a week of anger and questioning and frustration poured out over the pink, I’m letting them go.  I’m putting them in God’s hands now.

I have to.  I don’t control those answers, and I really never did. 

I’m not giving up.  I’m taking my chemotherapy pills every morning and every night, until all 504 are gone.  I’m doing my PT exercises.  I’m keeping up with my blogs and loving my children and working toward my goals.  I’m cherishing each day as it is, even as I crave normalcy.  But I know that I don’t control the ending of this story.

Today, I put the cancer in God’s hands, and as I ask him to heal me, so that my children can grow up in their mother’s arms, I have to let go.  Let go, and let God.  How many times have those of us who grew up in the church (or the South) heard this?  How many times have we said, sure, of course, and then pushed forward toward our own agendas anyway?  I know I have.  I had goals, big science-y, achievement-oriented goals, and things that I needed to do.  I will still work toward them.  I’m not giving up.  What I’m giving up is the sense that I control my fate, because when it comes right down to it, when you’re sick in bed or in pain or your body is fighting itself for your very life, all you (I) have left is faith that you will be healed, and the love of family and friends that surround you.

I want to live more than anything.  I want to be my kids’ mom.  I want to work to help others, and use my brain as I was designed to.  But today, I have to learn to put my fate in God’s hands.  And trust Him.  If I do my part, he will carry me through, healing my body and my soul.


48 Responses to Let go…

  1. magpie says:

    Love to you, Susan.

  2. Elaine says:

    One need only look around to observe all the beauty in our world, and what a lovely reinforcement you received by having lunch with children who were probably very excited to have you as company. I’m sending good thoughts your way. I hope you get a break soon.

  3. Niksmom says:

    Sending you good thoughts and prayers of healing. Of not just surviving but thriving and blossoming anew like those spring buds you’re envisioning.

    I don’t write much but you are always in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. *m* says:

    Thinking of you every day, Susan.

  5. sending hugs. reading every day and praying with all my might.

  6. slouchy says:

    What Stimey wrote.

  7. Issa says:

    I rarely comment, but I just wanted you to know I was here. Today and everyday. Thinking good healing thoughts your way.

    Also? Completely random and it may not help in the least…but last Christmas, my mother was given slippers by my brother. They came from Brookstone and they are that NAP memory foam kind. Very soft and yeah…might not help at at. But it was what I thought of to maybe help your feet. Cushion them a tad bit.

    Hugs Susan.

  8. Eye on the prize Susan. It is good. Those boys are good. You being their mom is good. Working is good. All your friends and well wishers are good. Sending you good vibes too.

  9. Meg says:

    May God continue to bless you and carry your burdens as you journey through this phase of your life.

  10. Jayne says:

    You’re beautifully holding on (to hope) and letting go at the same time. My current situation isn’t the same as yours, and I admit that I have a reasonable amount of normalcy in my life now. But nothing is the same as before the cancer. Before kids. Before cancer. Both of those lives seem so distant. Be well, Susan. Thinking of you often.

  11. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susan N, faithfamilyfibro. faithfamilyfibro said: Put things in perspective with @whymommy Awesome post….can't stop crying………she has given it to God! http://bit.ly/dfgC3V […]

  12. I so wish I had gotten more time to chat with you at the DCMM event back in June. You are an amazing person, Susan, and I hope I get to hang out with you sometime soon!!

  13. annie says:

    I rarely ever comment on anyone’s blog, but I wanted to know you gave me a gift today and made me remember what is important. I am in prayer for you and your family.

  14. sutari says:

    You wrote: “If you come to my house, there may be stuff piled on the table by the door. The laundry may not be completely done and put away. I may be in pajamas or soft sweatpants….”

    That sounds like my house! Because I too have learned what is important.

  15. Kristen says:

    It’s okay. I can hear his little voice saying it. And he means it.

    Love you and praying for you.

  16. Joeymom says:

    In every wood, in every spring
    There is a different green.
    (J. R. R. Tolkien)

    We’ll be glad you’re here to see another shade of wondrous green with us.

  17. clifford says:

    Happy for you babe. 😀

  18. patsy says:

    Dear Susan
    I have been lurking here for a long time. You are such a beautiful, elegant writer and person. I wish this disease could be wiped from the planet. I recently looked at the scarproject.org and it is so real… none of that pink cutesy stuff… just the facts. I had TNC, but I have not let go. I wish I had your passion and strength, and I pray that God carries you on His back to ease your feet.

    With much love

  19. That was beautiful. I hope someday soon your body will be as healthy as your outlook.

  20. Miss Britt says:

    And like you said… we never really did, right? You seem to be letting go with grace, which is inspiring.

  21. I am so blessed that you are able to share your insights.

  22. Richard Foster says:

    Watching the last rescue worker being removed from Chile mine and thinking about the faith the miners had that rescue would happen. It was several weeks before they were discovered. I know you are a fighter just like them.
    Keep looking for those spring flowers.
    Love from Mississippi

  23. “I want to live more than anything.” Oh Lordy, I want you to live so badly. I want you to have more good days than bad and I want you to be able to live without this worry. I am so, so glad for you that faith can be a comfort for you. I pray and I will continue to pray for you.

  24. Thank you. I don’t write about my faith often. I have so many good friends who aren’t believers, and trust me, a friend is a friend is a friend, and I love you all.

    But I promised you the truth. And the truth is I can only bang my head against the wall so many times, asking WHY and insisting it’s not fair. Eventually, I have to let go of the questions and the anger and listen to what God is saying.

    I’ll keep you posted.

  25. … posted on how things go, that is. 🙂

  26. I don’t know what I can add to that already said, except my love too.
    I think you are very wise, I’ve said it before. You have to choose your battles, and right now you’re engaged in the most important one there is. Take all the help and strength you can, from wherever you can draw it.
    Also… your Little Bear and his compassion and love bring me to tears. Especially because my Fainjin is almost exactly the same age, and even though your writing is so very *real*, the reaction of a child the same age as my own just brings it all closer to home for me. (sorry if that’s rambling a bit!) He makes it easier for me to imagine how things must be for you.
    Hugs, lots of gentle hugs.

  27. mar says:

    praying for you. i have ibc also.

  28. C. Mom says:

    You have left me speechless (which is pretty rare). I know how hard it is to let go..and just live in the now, taking care of you, sweat pants and all. I am not sure we ever has much control as we’d like, but I will keep my fingers crossed that as the seasons change, you will regain control over the little things one by one. Hugs!

  29. Linda Lawrence says:


  30. allison says:

    I want you to live too.

  31. amanda says:

    Just when I think you’ve humbled me or taught me as much as is possible by one person, you go farther. To the safety of letting go.

  32. Karen Hoelscher says:

    Hi Susan!
    After reading your post, I just had to respond. I wanted you to know that the girls and I pray for you every single night before bed and sometimes before dinner too. I think of you & your hubby all the time.

    Wish I could give you a hug.


  33. Think of you and your family often. Prayers and hugs. As the seasons change I’ll be cheering you on and thinking of you.

  34. Kirsten says:

    thank you for your post – and sending you warm, healing, courageous thoughts- will hold you and your family in my prayers.

  35. MDTaz says:

    I just spent the morning grumbling around about all the little things that are bugging me, making my life inconvenient, not meeting up to my expectations. You’ve just given me a little reality check.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this, but you are then given the privilege of knowing what matters. And how lovely that you think to share that with the rest of us.

  36. colleen says:

    Susan. How you make me wish to be a better person. Thank you so much. I pray for you all the time and we pray for you at prayer group every week. I also have alerted the “good fairies” (my mom and her two sisters, who are the most prayerful people I know) to pray for all your intentions. Hugs hugs hugs.

  37. aimee says:

    sending prayers to you every day.

  38. Adam says:

    Praying for you often as we put our kids to bed, that you would be fully healed; that you, Whydaddy, and the kids would know the Lord more and more and more through, in, and despite this battle; that you are growing more like His Son everyday who comforts us in suffering because he suffered too.

  39. Andrea says:

    You spoke of “letting go & letting God” on a very significant date for Catholics, Susan… Oct. 13th… the anniversary of the spinning of the sun at Fatima. If you’re not aware, google ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ & my reference will make more sense.

    I don’t think it was an accident or coincidence. I’m so glad you’ve reached this point in your cancer (letting go & letting God, as opposed to having to always feel like you have to micro-manage your cancer). Let go of the ‘scientific’ and grab ahold of the ‘divine’ & you will see your miracles!!

    God bless you always~ Andrea

  40. Jana says:

    One thing is for sure: you DESERVE to be here in the spring. Here’s wishing you a fun Halloween with your kids.

  41. Amelie says:

    Oh Susan. This was so beautiful and heartbreaking. Thinking of you and your family.

  42. nadya says:

    dear susan,i first read about you in readers digest.then i started following your blog.your words touch my heart.you r an extraordinary woman.you r an asset to your family and all the women community.im praying for u .i hope that everyone gets strength to face difficulties just like.

  43. I love this: “As I told the kindergarten kids at lunch yesterday, I love to learn new things. And just because you’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean you stop learning. Nope, you get to learn new things all your life!”

    So true! And the admission of getting out of bed at 10 am-> totally ok by me! Please don’t ever apologize for your honesty!

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