Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lilacs at sunset

So I don't even know how to begin to explain a deep dream come true.  I was given a gift.  I opened my heart to the energy of the universe, I asked in whispers to see life more fully, to breathe more deeply, to feel it all, to be, now, present, awake.

You never really know in what package your gift will arrive.  If you are really open to the gift, you take it all.  My gift came wrapped in fear, a threat of death, a fading away, a son losing his mother, a family losing their girl.  I heard a story about my future that seemed unbelievable, sad, not a dream I had dreamed in the grass looking up into the sky so long ago.  Here I am in the place I dreamed, the heart I dreamed I would be growing but not this ending....and still I accepted it.  My heart grew bigger, my eyes clearer, my mind more quiet, spirit open to every possibility and still I felt thankful, grateful, sad and joyful.  I wrapped my arms around the package and cared for all of it, the gift, the wrapping, the box, all delicately carried under my arm and I said yes.

I looked farther, I stepped in and reached up.  Monday as I breathed into my unfolding day at Mass General in Boston I smiled at my circumstance and accepted it.  It was a great letting go. We met with Dr. Norbert Liebsch to discuss my 38 day proton beam radiation treatment.  I smiled, listened, and wrote down my questions.  He is so amazing, professional, gentle, generous, informed, on the ball and down to earth.  He told me a different story, a different version of my cancer, my chondrosarcoma, a version completely different than the one I had heard twice at two different places at different times.  There is no urgency, there is no impending doom, no sign of the cancerous tumor left, no re-growth, no fear of metastasizing. No need for radiation...

Take a breath, wait 6 months, get new scans, live my life, open to the hope that this is not the time.  I felt elated, relieved and grateful.  I was already so grateful for the journey.  I have been so very in the moment for months, I feel everything, so viscerally, every cell, every molecule, every heartbeat and my yes has become a thank you.

The gift is still under my arm but I can release the wrapping.  It may come in a different form and I am ready but the gift is here, with me now, always, in this very moment and this one and this one and this one.....


The hospital, the staff, Dr. Norbert Liebsch are all amazing.  The hospital is state of the art.  Dr. Liebsch is one of the top oncologists for chondrosarcoma in the world.  Mass General is one of a very few hospitals that offer Proton Beam radiation.  They have an amazing cancer treatment center, very inviting, friendly, warm, supportive staff.  They are cutting edge.  I felt very safe, I trusted every one I met.  It was very peaceful.  They are very helpful.  Chondrosarcoma is very slow growing, rarely, rarely metastasizes, doesn't usually cause other problems unless it grows into areas of the brain or brain stem that can be pressured by the tumor.  My tumor was touching my brain.  95% of his patients don't have surgery to remove the tumor, the radiation controls the growth.  It works.  It is very effective.  Talk to him before you get surgery, before you grow your fear.  My surgery was so thorough that Dr. Daniel Prevedello at UPMC removed 100% of the tumor.  Dr. Liebsch couldn't see any evidence of the tumor and thought that the surgery was well done, amazing.  I was blessed, I was lucky, I am deeply grateful.  I won't set my gift down, or store it under the bed in a pretty box, or tuck into the pages of my favorite book.  I will carry my gift always and I still say yes, I have let go of the grip and I feel free.  I dance with my fingertips grazing the veil of the night sky and I am not afraid, for the first time in my life.  This year, which started for me in July, seemed to be about endings, illness, but has been instead about beginnings, life, beauty and love, deep love, even before this Monday at Mass General with wonderful Dr. Norbert Liebsch.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A little old and a little new...

I took the dimensions of the nature bag I made for my son and made a smaller version of it for myself.  I love the pocket under the flap, I just used odd shaped pieces of fabric.  The flap is a little longer but when I fill it with books, my shopping list, my watercolor pad and water colors plus my wallet it takes up the slack.  I designed this bag a few years ago but made it 14" x 15" this bag is 12" x 12".  Smaller and lighter, I am an over-packer, my shoulder is grateful!

A little old, a little new, a little Amy and little Kaffe....

Inside and out!

I love fat quaters....happy spring.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The greatness in me is you.....

Have you ever really wondered what it will be like?  The light, the great light?  The dance is over, the music is a quiet symphony playing as you file out.  Quiet, hot with sweat from the dance, you smile into the dark, the wind twirls your hair, you eyes look up into the night sky and see the stars.  You reach up, mountain pose, high up, touching the very tip, reaching the veil, grazing fingertips across the edges.  Warm air around, toes barely touching the ground, light as a feather. Deep sigh, one look back and up, up, up, up, it is all so beautiful, smiling faces.

While I still dance here in my living room, poetry, rhythm, pulsing beat, beautiful moments, warm, deep, red wine, May evening, sky clear, moon just crescent smile, I dance this dance, moving, sweating, smiling, breathing, dress clinging, shimmering, toes peeking out, arms out stretched, singing the words, loving the dance.  

I am going to be great for me!  This is great for me.  I want to be great for you too.  I whisper your name, I look deeply into your eyes, searching for the white of your teeth just beneath the surface of your smile.  Kiss your life, the essence of all that you are, so full, so alive, good and bad, joy and terror, morning and evening....I wrap my arms around your love, breathe you in deeply and jump......

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A single drop of blood

I cry as I write this, listening to Loreena McKennitt and watching my son play with his dinosaurs in a giant pile of clean, beautiful soil that will be our garden.  It is funny, now that I know I have cancer everything feels so much more precious to me, even a single drop of blood.  I don't dwell too much on my new state of health, or lack of it, but it does cross my mind in a melancholy sort of way.  

There have been many times in my life when I sat quietly and stared into the reality of my own death.  But I have this name now and I can feel my death walk with me, beside me, in a tangible, peaceful way.  It is all unknown, every day, I know that.  But one of my possible moments is now named and that is o.k., it's all precious, every drop.  I won't waste a moment of it.

Today, washing old flower pots I cut my finger.  It was a quick, sharp, deep, tiny cut but it bled. A single, large drop of my blood fell.  That is me, that is my life, I thought.  I have this big fear, an even bigger sadness, but wrapped around all of that I have this deep sense of magic.  The beautiful gift of life, the sacredness of death, there is a beauty in it.  We all have to pass that way, I am just so conscious of it now.  I will, hopefully, have many more years of this Good Life but for now, processing this new state, I am somehow able to embrace my death.  I love life, I love my home, my family, my friends, my chores, me.

My husband returned from his trip yesterday.  He was happy to see me, I was deeply grateful for him too.  Every time he hugs me now I cry.  A deep, childlike, choking sob...of happiness, of love, of sadness, of fear, of a long, slow goodbye.