Posted by: Teri Simon | 2011/12/26

Meaning, Grace, and Peace

hope and changeThe final blog of 2010, (spoiler alert: shameless plug ahead!) which you can read for yourself when you procure a copy of my book, Perspectives of a Flying Elephant: My First Year in the Land of Lung Junk, concluded this way:

“By the way, let me be the first to tell you what you can expect in 2011: there will be good days, there will be bad days, there will be trials and tribulations, there will be achievements and celebrations. There will be love found and love lost. There will be disappointments, and there will be redemption. There will be things you can’t even fathom. And in all of that, there will be a Flying Elephant, still in the Land of Lung Junk, hoping and praying this kind of Flying Elephant mantra for all of us: may there be meaning, grace, and peace.”

2011 will not go down in my personal history book as one of my favorite years, but my predictions were valid. Yes, there were extremely good days, like days for great breakthroughs in Weird-Shit-O-Meter Therapy, my daughter, Taylor’s great trip to Italy, my son, Joey’s fabulous trip to Germany, my daughter, Emily’s college graduation (!), and good times spent with great friends. But there were horrible, bad days, so awful I’m stunned as I re-read and edit the year’s blogs for Book #2, that I even survived them all! Bad days that included: a car accident, getting bumped off the Tarceva study, serious complications from a needle biopsy that landed me in the hospital for 4 days, having to quit my job and go on Social Security Disability, horrible/serious/thought-I-was-gonna-die reaction to the next clinical drug trial drug (rash/boils/PICC line/rash, rash, rash!), stereotactic radiosurgery for brain metastases, traditional chemo, recovering from chemo, changing protocols (a few times), and radiation to my eyes. These could also be included in the category, “trials and tribulations,” just as the cool stuff that my kids did this past year could qualify under “achievements and celebrations.” So could the publication of my book. And the survival of all those bad days. (Did I mention there were some bad days in 2011 for me?)

As I predicted, there was love found and love lost, like finding friendships where least expected (like in the Land of Lung Junk), or reuniting with long-lost friends of childhood, something I admit would not have been possible without Facebook, although, I likely would not have ever been on FB were it not for hawking my book! There was also love found of products and drugs to ease the pain and symptoms of physical ailments that afflicted me. There was love lost, sadly in the form of friends transitioning on, like my college friends, Amy’s and Deb’s moms as the year was young, Aunt Barbara in April, and Harvey F. and Julian K. in just the past month+.

There were tremendous disappointments, like getting bumped off the Tarceva study, having to quit my job, and kids having to make hard choices about their futures and their relationships. And not getting to be the one to escort Joey on his first overseas excursion. There was redemption, especially for me in the form of recovery from all those physical things that befell me, and surely the angels in heaven rejoiced with me and God was overwhelmed by the praise! And witnessing my kids bouncing back from their losses and disappointments. And doing well with physical therapy.

There were things I couldn’t even begin to fathom, especially, sadly, PAIN and RELENTLESS PHYSICAL CHALLENGES. For pretty much the whole year, I’ve felt like I was trapped in a revolving door that, just as I thought it was spinning clockwise, would smack me in the face and whip me around counter-clockwise. And yes, it still feels like that, and I just can’t fathom sometimes how that can be! Yesterday, dear friend, massage therapist, and Blog Buddy, Aryia, came over to borrow something, and ended up listening to me blubber on about the relentlessness. She so softly asked, “Do you need me to come over there (to the couch where I was sitting) and hold you?” And I nodded yes. And I literally cried on her shoulder, and out came all the agony of what’s been eating me most:

it’s never going to stop. The rest of my life is going to be like this: relentless dealing with a revolving door of pain and disappointment that switches direction with no notice. For as long as I live, however long that will be, I will forevermore be a Flying Elephant, having to fly or slog or crawl through the Land of Lung Junk. There is no other way now. Hard to fathom.

Equally hard to fathom, though, is that I would finally, finally get to that vulnerable place where I would not only let Aryia ask me that question, but I would actually let her let me cry on her shoulder! (Wonderful Therapist, you had better be proud of me! And Julie “Assume the Position,” you, too!) It’s mind boggling how much I’ve learned in the 2 years since my diagnosis about giving, about receiving, about the spirit, the heart, and the strength of a human being. Hard to fathom.

Through all of it, yes, I was a Flying Elephant. Through all of it, I was able to find meaning and grace, thank God. The peace part? Not so much. Because I’m still digesting this year, even as I relive it while I edit the Year 2 blogs. I have to take frequent breaks as I ask myself, “How did I LIVE through all that?” It hurts my feelings, it hurts my heart. It just, well, it hurts.

So, here I am, at the end of the year 2011 with y’all, still searching for a mantra to ring in 2012. Maybe by next week’s blog, and the official start to the new year, I will have figured one out. I know this, though: there’s simply no possible way I could have gotten through any of this without you. No way, I tell you! I pray for you daily, sometimes more than once in a day. I love you dearly, and I hope somehow you can feel that love. I appreciate you tremendously. So very much! Maybe together, in the year ahead, we shall all find that last piece of 2011’s mantra: we shall all find peace.

With so much end-of-year love,

Teri, The Flying Elephant in the Land of Lung Junk

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