4 weeks ago
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Before diagnosis, Kayla, Micala, mom and Korrina pictured in front of our Washington Island home, dressed and ready to dance in the Washington Island Scandinavian Fest. Hope to be in that number again -- 2011 here we come!
Kayla Queen Ervin praying for a horse in the National Cathedral, Washington DC when visiting in 2009 at the PT Boat Convention, memorial service for Lloyd Fons.
Son Steven had "I Can Only Imagine" playing on the CD when I got home from paddling with Bonnie and Connie this afternoon. The lyrics are about imagining what it will be like to be with Jesus. It is a beautiful song. I closed my eyes and sang along with the words, standing in the living room with my hands raised with praise. Then, I stepped back from grooving with the message. Imagine has nothing to do with it. The joy I am living is now. "Steve, this guy has it wrong," I say. "I don't have to imagine. The kingdom is come on earth. The spirit of God is with us when a foster family made adoptive family can grow stronger through cancer rather than coming apart. When one of Joshua's home-made duck-tape swords becomes his gift (tied with red bow) to me for battling cancer. I watch Joshua outside the window. He is pushing his sword into the sky "Look mom -- I'm killing the cancer." The spirit of God was with me in God's creation this morning when paddling with friends. I'm in the mainstream. I don't have to imagine anymore. I am choosing to be in God's kingdom today.
Joe and I are walking miracles. God brought us home for a purpose. I had a dream a few weeks ago that I saw my mother and ran toward her for a hug. She is coming to visit Washington Island with my sister Leesa and Leesa's husband Paul on September 20. Dream coming true. I had another dream about opening a door that I had never seen before and finding on the other side of the door a space to write, a close and safe space with a window. Today, Connie Hatch offered me the use of her waterfront home whenever I want to write. Will I open this door?
Another lumbar puncture. One more bath for the old brain in chemo. Why? Because leukemia tends to hide in the spinal fluid. Six lumbar punctures with chemo injection are recommended post transplant. I completed four before being discharged from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Another spinal draw for testing and 5cc of golden-colored Methatrexate into the spinal fluid just in case. I canceled my appointment last week when I woke to a gale and heard the ferries had quit running for the day. Thank goodness for high winds. But, yesterday, there was no putting it off. My appointment was at 11:45 a.m. in Sturgeon Bay with Dr. Jaslowski. I did not want to do. Did not want to go. Monday, the night before my appointment, I asked our kids and Joe to come together for a family meeting. I explained what I was up against and how I had plenty of lumbar punctures before and figured I could get through another one but I was scared and didn't want to go. While I spoke with our family, all of them looking at me and listening, I cried, talking about how I didn't want to go back and feel like a patient and go through another procedure. I got a cushion off the rocker, put it on the floor and knelt, asking them to gather around me and pray. Before I was settled on my knees, a crush of willing kids and husband had surrounded me. Shammond hugged. "Mom, I believe in you," he said. Micala whispered in my ear; "Mom, I'm sorry I yelled at you last night." Korrina gave my fuzz head loving pats. Joshua kissed my cheek. Kayla said "You can do it mom." Joseph whispered, "I'm so proud of you." Steve didn't say much but I noticed that his phone rang and he didn't answer it. When I got up from my knees my tears were gone and I knew I could do this thing. Their prayers and love prepared my way and set my heart.
Three weeks to the day of getting home from Seattle, I sat in the kitchen at the table and strangely enough kept sitting for a while instead of jumping up to what was next on my list. There was blissfully nothing on my schedule that day except perhaps the most important item -- processing a bite more of what has happened. Let the dust settle, take a breath from reclaiming a household, reuniting with family and friends, starting school for the children, being home. I got still enough to cry. And, in the crying, I sensed the multitude of prayers, the crowds of people who got me this far.
Monday, September 13, 2010
A blustery, grey, cold day. Steven's first high school soccer game off Island. "Is anyone going I can ride with?" I asked the school receptionist by phone. Ann Rose, the soccer coach had one space open in the school van. I missed every summer game because I was in Seattle for the bone marrow transplant. Now, I get to ride in the front, passenger seat. A gale blowing over Death's Door. Lake Michigan spray pounding the cars on deck on the way over. When we got to the game, I was the only parent in the bleachers at Bailey's Harbor. The prayer quilt from the Sunbonnet Sues, the one that hung over the doorway in my 7th floor west room at University of Washington Hospital during bone marrow transplant, the one that became a head board in my apartment at the Pete Gross House, the prayer quilt that sheltered my body when I needed a friend, became a colorful lap robe. I loved being along for the ride. That's my son out there on the field in the blue shorts, white shirt and socks. All the uniforms on the Washington Island team look alike but I know which one is mine.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
No one wanted to help. Except Kayla. She walked through grandma and grandpa's woods with me and held my hand. We found the L.L. Bean hammock frame where we had left it more than a year ago before cancer. A year ago, Kayla and I had camped the ridge overlooking Green Bay. Just the two of us and our dog Katie. While we snuggled on camp rest mattresses inside our sleeping bags, Katie was tied to the hammock frame. She chewed the cotton webbing to shreds from the groundside up. This year, post transplant, walked to the ridge together. Katie is on a farm in Bailey's Harbor herding sheep. We found the hammock disassembled in five pieces. It had been taken down by a visiting family member from off island who figured leaving a hammock neglected on the west shore courted liability. The Island visitor dispersed the rocks of our fire pit also. Perhaps it was better that the other children weren't with Kayla and me to see the place of memorable family gatherings disseminated. We bowed to the earth, each of us reaching for a heavy metal pole. We had come to reclaim the hammock frame. I directed Kayla to the lighter cross-bar members but even with the smaller pieces, she would tote more than 10 pounds. We carried the poles over leaves, downed branches and roots toward the road. After five minutes of forward march, I propped my pipe against a tree, accepted her piece and rested it against a stump. I took her hand and headed back for the pieces we had left behind. "When I walked the Methye Portage I took the canoe on my shoulders as far as I could carry and set it down," I explained. "Rested on my way back for the next load. Picked up a pack and carried it forward and past the canoe until I couldn't carry it any more and set the pack on the ground and rested on the walk back for the next batch." "What's the Methye?" asked Kayla. "A 13-mile carry between the Mackenzie River watershed and the Churchill River, over the height of land," I said. "I played leap frog with my pack and canoe," I explained, trying to give Kayla an image that would explain my plan. "I played leap frog with Korrina once," Kayla reported. "I couldn't jump over her," Kayla laughed. We made the turn around, rested on the return walk and picked up another load. Sometimes she carried a hammock pole to the next resting point, sometimes she didn't carry any piece of the appliance and just walked with me holding hands so that I didn't fall. When she didn't have hold of my hand, I used a hammock pole like an unweildy cane. A bone marrow transplant patient and a seven-year-old trudging in the forest understory, companions weighted with metal pipes. "Now we have to set the pipes against the tree, far enough into the air so that we don't miss it in the underbrush. If we put the pipe on the ground and then start back for it, we may not see it or walk off our trail, " I said. "And, we have to put the pipes on the far side of the tree so we can see where we rested it as we walk back. If we put the pipe on the side of the tree from where we came from, we may not see it as we come back looking." She didn't need all the instructions and reasons why. Kayla was content holding hands and helping me more than she knew. Forward and back, forward and back for more than half an hour before we reached the road with all pieces of the hammock accounted for. We retrieved our car. I drove us home to assemble the hammock in the front yard under the big tree where grandpa Lloyd used to rest with great uncle Del looking up at the leaves. Kayla and I steadied and balanced the hammock to lay down together. We took in the view -- straight up.