Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hair and Heartache

Every single morning, no matter how sick I feel, I get up and sit with my little cowboys while they have breakfast and get ready for their day.  I want them to understand that they matter more to me than anything that I have going on, including The Sickness.  It was not unusual, then, that I sat at the table yesterday with Goliath and Little Middle.  I looked a hot mess, after 3 days of a chemo-induced semi-coma.  The boys were thrilled to start their Saturday off with bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and some Mom time.  At least, until they heard what I had to say.  It had to do with my hair.  How it is falling out--"thinning" is the term from the oncology literature--and has been for some time now.  How I think it's time to do something, but I don't want them to be embarrassed or have to explain to their friends....And before the rest of the thought could make its way out of my mouth, my sweet boys jumped right in:  "You can wear your wig when you go to church or to our school!"  "I know where your scarves and hats are upstairs.  Do you want me to go get them?"  "I'm not embarrassed.  If anyone asks why you don't have any hair, I'll just tell them it's because you have cancer and they better mind their own business!" (This from my fiercely-protective Goliath, with his eyes flashing--I dare anyone to cross him.)  And..."Mom, we think you're pretty."  

Oh, my darling boys.  I could barely keep the tears in while I hugged them, reminded them to put their cereal bowls in the dishwasher, and fled to the safety of my bedroom.  

My bedroom, with its soft gray walls and pretty blue bedding and pictures of happier days gone by, is where I feel safe.  Right now, that's my haven.  It's where I stay when I'm sick; it's where I go when I'm scared.  "Scared" is a feeling I am well acquainted with.  It goes along with "overwhelmed" and "lost."  The thing with my hair isn't really new; in fact, it's kind of the last straw.  It's been the thing that just this week has made me think, "Well.  Maybe I really should just hole up here."  It's been the latest and scariest thing that makes me want to run and pull the pretty blue covers up over my head.  Because in my world, there's all this other stuff...

The pages of my journal are filling up, in spite of myself.  Night after night, I write.  And I write and I write.  How can one person who doesn't even go out much have so much to write about?
That Other Heartache drags on, albeit in a lesser form.  There is so much fear wrapped up in it, and it has a powerful grip on me.
Drama.  And a tremendous sense of responsibility for other people's well-being and happiness.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Achieving and maintaining healthy relationships is exhausting work.
I asked Dr. F about a long-term prognosis.  It isn't pretty.  And you'd think that if you KNOW that you have a limited time to live, that you would proceed like Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dyin'".  Only I think that for now, this chemo is the right thing to do, and it might give me more time.  But it also keeps me from yanking my kids out of school so we can all jump out of an airplane together.  I can't win.
A funny thing about being chronically ill is that you lose your sense of belonging.  My life is now measured in treatments and doctor visits, while the rest of the world carries on just as it did before The Sickness.  I don't know why it surprises me so much that my friends, my Bible Study class, my volunteer group...whoever! can function without me.   But they can, and I remain stunned.  

This life of mine, it's heavy. And right now, it's really, really dark.  It is every moment feeling dragged under, held down, gasping for breath after breath after breath.  It is Dory encouraging Nemo to "just keep swimming, just keep swimming," only it isn't funny at all.  It is pictures of what used to be or thoughts of what's to come that flash through my head on a never-ending reel, a constant reminder that with or without me, they'll go on.  It is the relentless cycle of sunrise to sunset.  I dread the dawning of a new day simply because the number of hours it brings to be conquered are overwhelming.  How does one start putting one foot in front of the other when she is already so far behind?

"But I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.  Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.  Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.  Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.  Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.  Come near and rescue me."  Psalm 69:13-18


The Horton Family said...

Al, I'm so so so sorry. Life does go on around u but I assure u, it isn't the same. U and your cheery attitude, your funky style and fun ways are missed in all areas. I miss u. We all wish u were better. U are doing the right thing. Even though it seems unbearable. U are a fighter. We all know it and watch u every day. Please keep it up. U can make it through this. Hair or no hair. And remember, we all think u are pretty. :)

Giggles said...

As I read your post with tears streaming down my face I wonder if this is how my Mom felt as she fought her battle. It make me wonder what I could have done differently. What can I do to help someone else. Thank you for always being so honest and truthful about what is going on in your life. You are teaching me how to be just a little sweeter, a little kinder, a little more encouraging, a lot more loving. You are teaching us all so much.
I pray for you. I pray for your comfort. I pray for your strentgh to continue to fight your fight. I pray for your family.
I think that woman with no hair (after seeing my mom without) are the most beautiful women in the world.

Goliard said...

Sweet girl ... I haven't seen you in many years, but I've kept up with things via your mom and brother. The words seem hollow as I type them, but you and your family are being thought of and prayed for by many, many people. You can count us to continue to do so. I imagine there are hundreds if not thousands of people who would be willing to do just about anything to remove any aloneness you feel. Lord, come near and rescue ...

Kim H. said...


You have such a beautiful family. As mothers, I think the hardest thing God asks of us is to trust Him with their well being. I can't say as I'm there yet. Not completely anyway. It is so much easier for me to trust other people's children to God. I feel all the confidence in the world that God's goodness will be so evident in your three boys. In fact, I feel so confident, it makes me feel more confident that He will be evident in my three children too. I do not understand the degree of pain and suffering God seems to require of some people. He has required much from me too, but I've experienced His glory so I trust that in the end, it will make sense. The mark you leave on this world will be permanent. The words you've written will stir the souls for generations to come. And your children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren will look with anticipation to the day they get to meet this amazing woman who shared her soul with raw courage so they and others could come to know her sustaining, trustworthy God. May our God give you a full measure of His peace and strength for each day until He whispers, "Well done, my Allyson. Time to come home. "

Anonymous said...

You are always on my mind and in my heart and prayers. Thank you for being "real". You cause me to trust in Him all the more. I love you.
H. Potter

Nancy Blankenship said...

I love you by proxy because I have always loved your Mom. I wish that I could give to you what you give to me through your blog. Prayers always and a big mental bearhug from your pseudo Aunt Nancy.

Anonymous said...

I was in the car line waiting to pick my son up from school today. Deeply engrossed in a book, I took a moment to look up. I don't know you but I prayed for you just yesterday because an old friend requested it on her FB page. I saw had to be you...I had just looked at your blog to see how to best pray for you...and then God put you right in front of me. And in that moment, I prayed deeply for your healing. For peace. And God/ I agreed that every bit of the glory would go to Him and Him alone. I felt the Holy Spirit stirring in my soul and the words I heard were " I love her deeply". I don't think it was a coincidence. Not one single bit. Peace to you.

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