This River, It Rises and Falls

I want to take a moment to thank the readers of this blog. Your responses, your emails, and your support mean a great deal to me. I have recently developed a very serious case of neuropathy in my right hand, which is such a cruel blow, as it is my writing hand, working and coffee hand, and now it burns and burns. I drop spoons, fumble with combs. So I cannot reply, offer the comments, or develop this blog as much as I like. I can’t visit or support others’ blogs as much as I’d like. But I read when I can, send love and support, and in this sister- and brotherhood that is often silent know that I stand with you.

It is January 2020. Each marker of time is a signpost, another hill or copse on the orienteering map of cancer unknowns.

silhouette of tree on top of the hill
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

It feels bewildering to be here. Each day is some new emotional or physical landscape. Today it’s weak and singed fingers. It’s thinning but not bald hair. It’s anger at the world and gratitude for light.

I hear the Jim Nabors song from a far radio somewhere:

Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly flow the days

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers…..

 

This is a song about childhood passing, but it speaks to me too about time. Opening and closing. Starts and stops.

*                                                               *                                                      *

I had a CT and bone scan last week. There is “good” news. “Good” is in quotation marks because when you’ve been with this disease, this abusive lover, as long as I’ve been (almost four years now), you begin to detach from each peak and valley. Detachment is an emotional survival tool. I cannot anymore ride with the extremes of shock or giddiness of this body’s data. I take it as it comes. I hear it and think “What does this mean? Ok, what next?” I no longer trust even the positive outcomes. Though I celebrate and though I thank, I have also numbed myself in order to protect myself from the fatigue of grief’s extremes.

The “good” news? And it is good. My lung tumors have shrunk considerably. The bone metastases are stable. Steady as she goes. The current treatment is working. All signs point north.

The price? Numbness, burning, and neuropathy in my writing arm. Crashing fatigue and nausea for two weeks each month. Anger and irritability. Family and friends who I worry are getting sick of all these peaks and valleys. I’m so grateful they’ve stood by. Their continued presence is a kind of sunlight.

Yet tempus fugit. Time flies.

This life, it is a kind of No-Man’s Land of in-betweens. There is no France, no England. There are only remains.

*                                                                *                                                    *

This post sounds darker than I feel. Reader, if you were with me here, I’d sit us down for coffee or tea and ask: How are you? How is work? Or How are the kids? Always I am working to turn my gaze back to the world, the people here and now, away from the body.  I must remember. I can go to dinner, walk, plant a few seeds or bulbs here and there. Each day truly is a gift.

And yet my own truth is that there is damage, too. There are ruins to rebuild, landscapes to level. Cinderblocks to place.

It is one whole circuitous map, this rubble and this rain.

And the river, always ongoing.

river between green leafed tree
Photo by Rachel Baskin Photography on Pexels.com

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “This River, It Rises and Falls”

  1. Oh Jo, when I see the email telling me that you have posted, I am always glad but also worried. Today is a “post from you” day and I took the good news gladly knowing that there is also not so good news too. Words like stability and shrinkage are good words for us. Your ability to write words that resonate is good. Neuropathy is not a word that is good~~at least not to me. I know that advice is not often what we want, but my right hand pain, burning, and loss of use leads me to say just a little. I now print well and write not so well with my left hand. I now do my journal by hand and type with my left forefinger and want to try to use more fingers. I find dictation frustrating and have not tried dragon or other programs because they look daunting to my chemo/ aging brain. For some reason dictation often doubles or does not understand me as has happened here today. However I persist. If you come up with any brilliant ideas please let me know. Meanwhile I want to pass on how grateful I am to hear from you. Namaste, Marian

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  2. “…now he saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow-moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going.”
    From The Giver, that popular book for teens, that’s so deeply profound for adults. Since you’re writing about rivers, dear Jo, you’ll know. Lowry said in her Newbery acceptance speech the truth is that we go out and come back and what we return to has changed and so are we.
    I’m happy for you that the treatment is effective and sorry to hear what you have to sacrifice in return for tumors shrinking.
    Thank you for your insights and your willingness to share them with us. ❤️

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    1. Falconer,
      I taught this book for years. I love it so. Thank you for the beautiful quote and your support and kinship in this. Warmest regards.
      Jojo

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  3. I completely relate to the feelings expressed here: “Detachment is an emotional survival tool. I cannot anymore ride with the extremes of shock or giddiness of this body’s data. I take it as it comes. I hear it and think “What does this mean? Ok, what next?” ”

    A beautifully written post. Best wishes

    Like

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