That stark, staring dread that grabs you by the throat and chokes the breath out of you, that loosens your guts and sends them churning, that makes you lose your water.
That's where I have been for the past few hours.
Last night Barbara was awakened by unearthly screams, and came out to find me in agony, curled in a foetal position, delirious and unaware of where I was (and who she was). It lasted 90 minutes.
(This is my post for Five Minute Friday, written ahead of time. When I learn the keyword I will try to work it in.) (The word is TRY. It's there.)
I asked her to please shoot me. Glad she didn't.
I don't remember much except the pain, and as I write this I can still feel it waiting, biding its time. It's like a San Andreas Fault inside me, sending small shocks that tell of The Big One to come.
And it's scary.
A braver man than I would be able to compartmentalize, and set it aside. A man with more faith would be able to lean into God, and hand the pain and fear to Him.
Me being me, I have had to try to find another way, and it's this...which is surprising. I have to embrace the fear.
Embracing pain is much easier; it calls up the Stoic virtue of endurance, the Spartan one of self-abnegation, and the Jewish virtue of dark humour (My spiritual upbringing came from an Orthodox family, and there is a mezzuzah at my door).
But fear? That almost feels like saying, "I'm a coward, and I own it."
Almost, but not quite, because while cowardice is action, fear is merely circumstance. I'm tempted to say that it's like the old adage that you can't prevent birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.
But that's not really it, because my fear is an aspect of me. It's not something I can cut off and discard.
And so, I can either fight it, and engage in an internal civil war that will tire me out while the real enemy gains more ground...
...or I can hold it close, and treat it with gentle respect, because in truth, my fear is the part of that is the crying child, afraid of the darkness.
You can't browbeat a child into courage, or an adult, for that matter.
But what you can do is sit with them. The fear may not go away.
But at least you'll be facing it together.
And this, I think, is what embracing fear, rather than rejecting it, does for us. It's the way we can invite God to sit with us.
Cancer will never be anything but scary. I am afraid of that darkness, that jungle of pain.
But I don't have to face it alone.
And now, a treat for you...if you ever wondered what Barb is like as a person, her gestures and her animation, I found a video that's so close it's eerie (and it's a nice song, too); just watch the singer, and you'll have a glimpse of my dear wife...
Still hoping to get the new and improved version of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart up and running in the near future. Just haven't had the energy to do it yet...but if you would like to read it, please say so in your comment and I'd be glad to send you a PDF (which should fit your Kindle).
Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.
If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.
Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.