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).
I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.
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.
You have more courage than you realize brother! I'm so thankful you are here. I learn so much from you! I'm in the 5 spot this week.ReplyDelete
Tara, you just made my day. Thank you so much for this!Delete
Andrew I am so sorry for your sufffering. I can't even imagine. I'm so glad you know that God is with you. Praying that this day will be a good one.ReplyDelete
Cathy, thank you so much...and God is closer to me every day. Today was good; the service dogs gave me canine CPR when I stopped breathing (again!) and while I am a bit battered by them jumping up and own on my chest, I am alive, and looking forward to tomorrow.Delete
"You can't browbeat a child into courage, or an adult, for that matter." AMEN, Andrew, AMEN. This is all very close to me, having just watched my father-in-law go through terminal cancer. Even before that, he had chronic pain. His cognitive issues sort of compounded any attempts on our part to help him process all that, but it definitely gave me a fresh and close look, as close as I could get without being him. Sending prayers and support your way.ReplyDelete
Paul, thank you so much for sharing what has to be a difficult and painful memory. I know you've given hope to people with this!Delete
And thank you so much for the prayers! They definitely came in handy a few hours ago, when the dogs had to revive me.
Hello, I will be Paying for you and I loved the puppy and can't wait to check out there page. Along with the books you shared. Have a nice day.ReplyDelete
So glad you liked the puppy! What's a blog without a dog, yeah? I do hope you enjoy the books...and I thank you, truly, for the prayers.Delete
While I don't always comment on your posts, I read them each week and am blessed by them. I'm sorry for your pain and suffering. You're in my prayers.ReplyDelete
Sue, thank you so much...I truly appreciate your choosing to comment, and especially am grateful for the prayers. Today was a bit tough; they are needed.Delete
"You can't browbeat a child into courage, or an adult, for that matter." So true. I've tried to whip my self into better courage all my life.ReplyDelete
I cannot imagine the pain you are daily experiencing and am amazed that you still share it with us.
I have been thinking similar thoughts about fear too.
That accepting the fear and not running anyways is key to making it through. It's the anticipation and the panic that magnifies it and steals our joy from these present moments.
I hope this Friday is peaceful and free from all this pain.
Summer, I couldn't have imagined it before I lived through it. It's worse than I would have believed possible, and yet the strength I draw from the Almighty and from you guys out there in this community is inestimable. On the balance, I am blessed beyond measure.Delete
It was kind of a scary Friday for me and the dogs, as they had to restart my breathing; they know how (basically, they jump on my chest and bark real loud). But a good one, as I am still here and they know they did a good job.
I think you show a lot of faith and courage in the way you respond to your circumstances. And I love your thoughts about embracing the fear and inviting God to sit with us in it. That's really how I came to know God as I struggled a lot with fear as a child and felt there was no-one I could talk to who would listen and not just tell me to snap out of it. God became the one I would talk to and I agree, it makes such a difference to know we're not alone. Praying that you continue to know God with you.ReplyDelete
Lesley, I came to face fear the same way, as a child. My childhood was terrifying (until I learned to effectively defend myself), and along the way I acquired that close relationship with the Almighty that carries me through today.Delete
Thank you so much for the prayers! Needed them today.
Indeed, sitting is such a powerful gift. I'm thankful Barbara was there to sit with you...ReplyDelete
Annie, yes, sitting with someone is an enormous thing, sometimes the deciding thing. And coincidentally, Cat Stevens' song "Sitting" nearly became the theme for this week's post...I'll probably use it next week.Delete
Even the hair....Andrew, Barbara... woofs...ReplyDelete
Yes, Susan, even the hair...and Barbara can sing, too!Delete
"I can hold it close, and treat it with gentle respect, because in truth, my fear is the part that is the crying child, afraid of the darkness." Such a beautiful analogy, Andrew. May God's peace calm your fears. Your writing so unselfishly shared during your dark days is a gift--and an opportunity for so many of us readers to learn and grow. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Susan, thank you so much for this. The writing is really the work that God has set before me, and a lot of it (like the previous post, 'Passing The Torch') has been awfully hard.Delete
But the rewards are greater than the pain, and greater than the anguish. Being able to help people...that's the best legacy for which I could have hoped.
Andrew, I'm so sorry for the pain. Thankful Barbara was there. And God. Love to you both. xxReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Carolina. I am so lucky and blessed to have Barbara. God sent her.Delete
XX and love back, from both of us.
Dear Andrew, You are right. We can ask God to sit with us as we acknowledge our fear. The Psalms helped me see this when my son was losing the battle with cancer. God is faithful. I enjoyed the video--blessings to your dear wife. Praying for your comfort and peace this weekend.ReplyDelete
Carol, thank you so much for sharing your heart here, and I am so very sorry for your loss. And so grateful that God stand by you!Delete
I'm delighted that you enjoyed the video; the personality the singer displays is SO similar to Barbara! We don't have the means to set up a video, but I thought that one told the story!
And thank you so very much for the prayers. They have been very much needed.
I find it interesting how many times that I read one of your posts, and I feel a gentle nudge in my spirit. I was just talking to my mom, about how some of my timid son's fears inconvenience me. After reading your post, I am reminded of the truth of the importance of sitting with him, and comforting even if puts our day behind schedule. Who's schedule anyway? Life is so much more important than my itinerary. Thank you for sharing this Andrew. I am praying for you and Barb. -JoleneReplyDelete
Jolene, gosh...you just made my day, that I could give you that gentle spirit-nudge. I am SO honoured!Delete
And this sentence, "Life is so much more important than my itinerary"...that's a keeper.
We so appreciate your prayers. These have been tough days.
Embrace the fear, yes! Hard though it be. Fear can make ninnys of us all. I believe fear is the foe to beat. Saying, I can't do this, is more true than putting a brave face on it. The truth is, none of us can in our own strength. Embracing the fear stops the resistance and brings on the better place, peaceful being. Excellent, Andrew. Sorry it's so incredibly painful. GBU. Praying.ReplyDelete
Norma, you're exactly right. Our own strength will always fail, at some point. It'snot to be demeaned, but in the end, it's just not enough.Delete
The only thing that's enough is God.
Thank you so much for the prayers! These days have gotten brutal.
Andrew, I'm sorry you have to go through this suffering. Thank you for being our teacher through the process.ReplyDelete
Jeannie, thank YOU for these affirming and encouraging words...and for being here.Delete
I hope you will get to read my response, even if you're far too pained to reply. This is important.
"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."
I don't believe this to be true.
I think this is what we are taught.
We are taught to believe that there is no fear in faith, but look at David! The Psalms are full of his panicked moments. Faith has to be tried and proven.
It's as fallible a philosophy as "if your faith is great enough, you will be healed." (Taking "go, your faith has made you whole" out of context)
I call "bull" on the braver man compartmentalizing.
We saw that man on this blog two years ago. He was hiding.
Compartmentalizing is putting the fear in a box, stuffing it, cowardly avoiding it.
Faith is standing (or lying in the fetal position) and calling it out for what it is.
My latest faith song is "Even if" by MercyMe.
That phrase is the bravery of the Hebrew men in front of Nebuchadnezzar.
They were afraid, but they wouldn't stand down.
Faith leads to courage.
Courage is action in the midst of fear, Andrew.
You are brave.
You are fighting for your life.
Jesus was so agonized at facing his death that he sweat drops of blood. He still faced it. But his human heart I am sure experienced great depths of fear.
And it is in His own experience that He looks at you and holds you with the greatest empathy possible.
He does not delight in suffering.
Courage, my dear friend, we are swallowing up every part of you in prayer. You are okay to be afraid, but know you are not alone!
(#43 and 44 today)
(I copied Susan and shared two posts. In 2015 July 31, the prompt was Try)
Oh, Tammy. Words fail me, except to express gratitude...and in a way I decry the modern world, because you cannot see the tears that would stain the paper and smear the ink of a written reply.Delete
Yes, two years ago I was hiding. But as pain found me, God found me first, and He has carried me out into the light.
I'm not doing well physically (especially today!), but I have no complains, because I can simply live the moment and let Him worry about what's coming.
I love "Even If".
I don't feel alone; I am lifted so high by love!
And love back, from all of us.
Yes, it does make a difference that we don't have to face the pain alone. Thanks for your faithfulness, keeping on shining brightly in darkness. God bless you!ReplyDelete
mari-Anna, thank you so much for this...and yes, we are never alone. He is here.Delete
Blessings back, from all of us!
You are amazing with God! Look at how you made it through and put your experience into words. May God bless you and your wife today, JulieReplyDelete
Julie, Gos has done some really heavy lifting with me. Two years ago, when I started documenting this journey, I was defiant and fancied myself something of a spiritual bada**.Delete
I learned different. All of what I do is God.
Thank you so much for being here. Blessings back, from Barb and me.
I've only been reading you a couple months. Have read a few of you previous post to help learn m ore about you, and what I learned is I wished God had directed me to you sooner. Using last weeks prompt, you are an inspiration through it all, even the fear. Thank you so much for sharing this special time with us. Keeping you and Barb in my prayers always.ReplyDelete
Elizabeth, I'm just so glad you're here now. I really appreciate your company, and you ARE keeping me company on what could otherwise be a lonely road.Delete
We're so grateful for the prayers. The past few days have been more than rough.
Andrew, So sorry you have so much pain. Didn't your doctor give you some help with that? Your wife is stunning. I think perhaps part of your loss and pain is feeling you are losing her, such a blessing for you. You are enormously fortunate this woman is there to share your pain and worries. God is there for you through her. There are some people who have to go through sickness and death alone. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Sophia, thank you so much for these kind and sympathetic words! I'm in the unfortunate position of reacting very badly to pain meds; I can use them in crisis, but on a regular basis, I just have to bear it.Delete
So glad you like the virtual version of Barbar! She's such a blessing; I would be long dead without her.
Thank you so much for being here!
My dear friend, I fully believe that Jesus is sitting with you. He is holding your head against His chest. When the fear causes your heart to race, I pray that you will be able to hear His beating, in the depths of your soul. You are not alone. - Marie (mlsgregg.com)ReplyDelete
Marie, you are right. He is here with me, and I am no longer to proud to lean into His chest and cry. And yes, I do hear His Heart beating, and beating for me.Delete
Thank you so much for being here!
Courage doesn't mean not feeling afraid. It means doing what's right in spite of your fears. You are courageous, and I think Barbara must be, too. Of course I won't stop praying for both of you.ReplyDelete
Jan, all I can really say is thank you, from both of us. These are icious days, and we appreciate the prayers more than we can say.Delete
I'm late on this one... it's been a really tough week (one of Jerry's medical issues, of course).ReplyDelete
God gave us the emotion of fear so that we would lean on Him. We lack personally what He can provide supernaturally. I learned a short rhyme years ago, that when He says "Fear not!" (Isaiah 41:10) He means "do not fear, I am near." He is with you, Andrew... in your hardest moments of these things, when your mind and body scream otherwise, know that you are still in His Hands. Prayers as always!
Andrew, I feel like I know Barbara so much more now! Thanks for that performance!ReplyDelete
Telling someone not to fear is like telling a blind man to see. But yes you can sit with him and maybe describe the environment around him and usher in a piece of quiet. I'm sorry for your pain and fear. I won't even try to imagine but I will (and do) pray.
I'm #73 this week.
hi andrew, i read your post on friday but didn't get my comment in i guess. i had to write in spurts. ron has been sick and i get interrupted a lot. we had an additional ER visit this week but all is calmer now. he seems to be getting over both his pneumonia and his reaction to one of the drugs:(ReplyDelete
i keep you in prayer as you learn to embrace your pain and deal with the challenges that continue to come at you. i also pray for barb as she deals with her pain as well.
Andrew, I stand in awe of your faithful perseverance. When pain or problems drag on I am too easily discouraged. Thank you for you example of fortitude and courage.ReplyDelete
You have more courage than you realize! I will share with you my favorite quote. "God is still writing your story. Don't let go of your faith because of what you have yet to see." Keep up the fight!ReplyDelete