The gift

One of the most difficult things about being homebound with a serious illness (or two) is remembering that (most likely) things will get better.  That you will have enough energy to go up and down the stairs again.  That you will be able to play with your children again, and not just from your pillow or your chair.  That you will soon put away the oxygen, and plan days that include leaving the house.  That you will be able to do, and see, and go … and be YOU again.

The past two weeks have been terribly hard for me.  I don’t do sitting well.  I tried to fill my days with learning about my new tablet computer (love it!), with reading classics (like Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy book – did you know that the real story of Sleeping Beauty has hardly begun when she is woken with a kiss?  In fact the whole castle awakes, and they don’t live happily after – there are ogres!), and with keeping up with the latest on Slate, Salon, HuffPo, and the Daily Beast.  But those diversions were not nearly as fun as they could have been had snuggling into the soft recliner and reading been a choice.

I just wanted to get up and do things again.  Encourage my kids with games and playtime more of the afternoon instead of just homework and learning in the half hour after school.  Eat dinner with my family (I collapsed in bed at 4 or 5 p.m. most evenings, exhausted from the day, and nauseated by warm food after the chemo).  Work on my computer again, catching up on what I’ve missed, and plotting new work for the spring.  Make and address all those Christmas cards (Will they make it there by Christmas now? Who knows?).  But my body didn’t cooperate.  It wanted to sit.  Or sleep.  And the cough just wouldn’t go away.  Every time I went upstairs – or over to the fridge, even – I had to rest, lie down, and use oxygen to get my breath back.

And then, Sunday night, Marty came to visit.  The novena my church family is saying neared its close.  We continued our family time for Advent.  I finished the pill bottle of antibiotics, and I began to recover from Thursday’s chemotherapy and bone strengthening infusion.

That night we talked and talked and talked, well into the wee hours, and when I tired we went upstairs or put my oxygen on.  But Monday — I can’t explain what happened Monday, but after talking in the recliners downstairs for a while, I got up and began to fuss with my fish tank.  It had suffered during my illness too – you can barely see the little guys through all the muck on the walls!  We talked and laughed and scrubbed the walls.  We scrubbed algae off the glass, walking back and forth to the utility sink, and we laughed when Marty almost dropped the tank hood onto the Science magazines below.  We made that sucker shine, and we talked about her getting a fish tank too (before she left, I sent a dozen beautiful guppies with her, sharing new life in my house with hers).  We watched a movie together, The Help, that we’d planned to watch the day of its release in the theater.  We played with the boys, and I comforted Widget after school, when his earache flared, and Marty tried to engage them in a craft.  We addressed Christmas cards, as we do now, the week or two before Christmas, no matter how I’m feeling.  And then we went downstairs and I ate dinner with my family – and I mean ate.  After three weeks of illness, where I lost 25 pounds because I couldn’t even stand the smell of warm foods, I ate a whole dinner, including seconds.  We were up and doing things the whole. entire. day.

And today I feel like a new person.  Wait, that’s not quite right.  I feel like myself again. I woke up this morning ready to go, showering, eating, and helping the boys get ready, starting a blog post when they went to school.  I’m smiling again, and hopeful, and ready to get back on track and start again.  I went to prayer group, alive and alight with the happiness that comes of being reminded that today is a new day, full of possibilities.  Including possibilities of me getting things done again, of games to play and talks to have and maybe even taking Widget to church tonight for practice – for he is going to be in the Christmas Eve nativity with his class!  Today I feel alive again.

I’m bemused by the thought, juxtoposed with the past few weeks, and I laughed out loud as I related it to my friends this morning.  How could such a difference happen so fast?  And yet, it wasn’t fast at all, was it?  It took days of sitting and waiting and resting, weeks of praying, and treatment after treatment at the hospital.  I believe in prayer.  I believe that medicine works and that my treatments will be successful in extending my life and improving the time that I have left here.  Why, then, was I so surprised yesterday that I finally felt like myself again?

On Sunday morning, I sat quietly with my husband before they left for church.  We were grateful for the day, another day granted to us after such a scare at the hospital, and he whispered softly to me with amazement that I was still here, saying, “This Christmas is God’s gift to us.”  Yes, it is, I agreed, and sent him off with a kiss.  We will celebrate this Christmas together with joy, just as we celebrate God’s gift to the world over 2000 years ago.


62 Responses to The gift

  1. magpiemusing says:

    I’m so glad for you. Love to you, Susan.

  2. sharon says:

    your words are such an inspiration. isn’t hope so wonderful. We pray for you and I personally am changed by the small amount of time that I’ve been following your blog already. t hank you for that gift. merry merry merry christmas!

  3. Ellie Rancont says:

    You are truly amazing. Praying for you daily.

  4. Your sweet MIL and I rocked those pom pom pinecones. 🙂

  5. Tina says:

    Susan – So good to hear from you again. Even though we have never met, your words are such inspiration for me as my wonderful mother in law is going through chemo for a very rare cancer and your positive attitude helps me to try to help her keep positive as well. I worry when I don’t hear from you for a while – I know the last couple of weeks have been really tough for you – I have been thinking about and praying for you. So glad that you are feeling more like yourself. Take care.

  6. Karen says:

    What wonderful news. I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling like yourself again. Enjoy the holiday; I know you will.

  7. Catherine H Myers says:

    It’s so great to hear that you’re feeling better!

  8. Praise God! Thank you for sharing your hope, peace and joy with us!!!

  9. Amanda says:

    And you, Susan, you are such a sweet gift to all of us. Thank you for allowing us space on your path, to listen, hope and, in the ways that we are able, to soften your steps.

    Big love to you and yours.

  10. Siobhan says:

    So happy to hear your voice! Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.

  11. imstell says:

    In this season of miracles, I pray for one for you. In case I’ve never told you… in case you don’t realize… I love you. I love your spirit. I love your strength. I love your dedication. I love your hope and perseverance. You have made such a difference in my life.

  12. So glad to hear this. Much love to you & your family in this holiday season of joy.

  13. binkytowne says:

    I’m so glad you feel better. I too will say a special prayer for you and your amazing family this holiday season. I’ve had pneumonia and it’s awful so the fact that not even pneumonia could knock you down for long? On top of chemo? Dang girl. The ways in which you are amazing just never stop. Love to you.

  14. Loran says:

    Wow!! My heart soars for you and your family!! Have a very Blessed Christmas Susan!! xo

  15. Hooray! This post makes me so happy! I’m so glad you are feeling better and more like yourself again. Many blessings and much joy to you and your family this Christmas.

  16. Dorothy Doyle says:

    Susan, YOU are God’s gift in action – even when you, literally cannot be physically active. Your words move hearts…now THAT is a powerful gift. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family through out the holidays and beyond…You inspire me greatly through your capacity to cherish all the special moments in your daily life, even amidst your daily challenges. We can ALL learn from you….and so many of us are! THANK YOU!!! God bless you.

  17. Amelia says:

    I read every word you post and think of you often. I just never know what to say, my words feel trivial in the wake of what you have posted. I’m so happy you feel better today.

  18. elesha says:

    This post makes me happy. To hear you feeling like your old self makes me very happy. Have a wonderful christmas xx

  19. Eileen says:

    Thanks Susan for sharing. May you feel the joy of being alive again. All the joys of Christmas – Eileen

  20. *m* says:

    So thrilled to read this post. You are a gift to us all, Susan. Wishing you many many many many many days like this.

  21. Donna W says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  22. This is one of your very finest posts, my friend. Simply wonderful news, just in time for Christmas!! I’ve been so concerned about you, and could not be happier that Marty was able to be there with you– best friends are some of the best “medicine”.

    Love to you and yours, as always. xoxo CGF

  23. I’m so glad to hear you are feeling like your old self. Every day is a gift. Every Christmas is a gift. We all know that, but you really know that. Thanks for another poignant post. Hope you have a lovely and peaceful holiday.

  24. Jan says:

    Praise God. I have been praying like crazy these past weeks. God is truly good.

  25. Vicki Thorne says:

    Glory to God in the Highest, Amen and Amen, yes prayer works. I am so lifted by your joy. Vicki

  26. Kathi says:

    Reading this really made my day. And I send you some prayers that you will feel like yourself for a good loooooong time. xoxo

  27. jane says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been praying to hear those (kind of) words. That made my day.week.month! Jane

  28. Ana says:

    I get so happy when your blog makes it to my email! I’m glad to hear from you. You are truly a gift. Thanks. 🙂 Ana

  29. Annie says:

    Beautiful post, Susan. Your writing is inspired. Merry Christmas!

  30. Your posts are so inspiring and so full of love. I wish you a very happy holiday season – you truly understand the meaning of a gift – reading your blog is gift, too. All the best. Elaine

  31. Carmela says:

    Our love and prayers are always with you and all your boys. I’m so glad to ‘see’ you smiling again. Miss you!

  32. Spacemom says:

    love it. Peace to you and your family this Christmas

  33. Tammie says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Susan. Wishing you joy, peace and happiness.

  34. Merry Christmas Susan. Sending so much love to you and your family. xoxo

  35. Fran says:

    Susan Dear…… It’s so wonderful to hear you’re feeling more like yourself. The power of prayer is real in the terms of healing and restorative properties. God has enveloped you in His loving arms – feel His love strengthen and empower you with healing properties. Continue to improve with the love of your family and friends so you will have a peaceful, joyful and memorable Holiday season. Prayers and love to you and yours….. ❤

  36. Diane Krapf says:

    I knew you would get there…..back to doing simple things like your old self. Loved hearing about your friend Marty visiting. There’s nothing like a girls bestfriend!

  37. Miss Sarah. says:

    Hi there..
    I don’t think i have ever commented on your blog before, but i’ve been reading since the beginning.

    Your story is one of strength, determination, belief and not forgetting the love of your family. I have lost loved ones to cancer in a very short space of time, only 4 months… and it’s a horrible illness, but like you show, you can fight and continue to be the best mother, wife, friend…. you can be… and i am humbled by you.

    This post before Christmas makes me SO happy. To see that once again you are fighting back….feeling more yourself… and what a lovely time to be feeling ‘better’…..

    I pray that you continue to fight and you WILL win… Every single day we are ALL blessed for…

    Sending you love and prayers for you and your family in 2012.

    Much Love,
    Miss Sarah (UK)


  38. Carol says:

    I am very glad to know you are feeling better. thank you God for answered prayers. sending you prayers and love and Merry Christmas wishes.

  39. I believe in prayer. I’m so, so glad you are feeling like yourself.

  40. Goosebumps. I’m so glad you are here to enjoy this Christmas and hope to read posts like this for many more Christmases to come.

  41. Bon says:

    the idea that you are feeling like yourself in time for Christmas seems to me a marvelous, joyous gift. smiling at you.

  42. I’m so happy that you are feeling better. May your family’s Christmas be a time of peace, happiness and laughter.

  43. momitforward says:

    you are such an amazing woman

  44. zapladybug says:

    This is wonderful news!! Keep it up. Merry Christmas!!! xo

  45. {sue} says:

    This is the best Christmas gift! I’m so happy to read this!

  46. Kami says:

    A Christmas blessing, indeed. If I didn’t receive one single gift this year, this would be enough. I’am so relieved you are feeling better and enjoying your family at Christmas! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

  47. So happy to see this post. Praying for you and praying for many, many days like this for you.

  48. As usual, you’ve made me laugh, made me cry, humbled me with your courage & inspired me with your strength.

    You are a gift to us all & I thank you.

  49. Aunt Pat says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better.
    Love and Prayers

  50. Betty Wilson says:

    Wishing you and your family a holiday season filled with joy and special moments.

  51. Patti Lalley says:

    Saw Widget in the play tonight – cute, cute, cute!! Glad to see you doing better. Lotsa love to you and your family, Merry Christmas,

    —Patti L

  52. Laura B. says:

    Merry Christmas Susan! God Bless you and your beautiful family and friends. Thank you for reminding me to count my blessings, not my burdens. With love, Laura B.

  53. Stimey says:

    Susan, I just read this and I am so happy you felt better this week. I am so glad you got to laugh with Marty and talk with your friends and play with your boys. When I got your Christmas card today (before Christmas!), I looked at all those adorable photos and smiled. You always rise again, Susan. You are incredible. I hope that your feeling well continues. I love you. Merry Christmas.

  54. krishawn says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post, Susan. I am flooded with relief that you are feeling better. God is good! This Christmas is a gift to us all. Thank you for reminding me of that. Lots of love to you and your family today. Merry Christmas!

  55. So glad you are feeling better, Susan. I’ve been keeping you in my prayers. Enjoy those wonderful kids and your loving family. Liz Szabo

  56. I have been thinking about you a lot lately. Whining that I am stuck on the couch recouperating and not able to do what I want. And feeling like crap because of the pain medication.

    Which is NOTHING compared to what you manage every day with grace and AWESOMENESS.

    Love you gorgeous. xx

  57. twobusy says:

    It suddenly got a little dusty in here.

  58. NOR says:

    Alive and living well… what a great Christmas present! All my best..

  59. Diane Krapf says:

    Dear Susan, I’m thinking of you and saying prayers for you.

  60. Linda says:

    Susan — Thinking of you and your family and hoping you are savoring love and special moments.

  61. Lisa says:

    Just letting you know i am thinking about you and praying that you are able to cherish every moment.

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