Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/10/21

Beauty in the Midst of Devastation

beauty in devastationIt’s a season of change again, my friends, as Summer melts into Autumn, and thoughts turn from suntans to candy corn, or, if you’re in retail marketing, from suntans to Santa Claus.  So much of the changes of seasons include beauty:  in Spring, we notice the bare branches of trees and shrubs green up and sometimes sprout small flowers.  The air smells of hope and new growth and potential.  Spring melts (often literally) into Summer, the air thick with humidity and sunscreen, folks heading to exotic vacations or non-exotic stay-cations, and kids feeling the full force of freedom.  Summer, as it’s doing now, moves to Autumn.  The air smells of fallen colorful leaves, the last of the flowers blooming, and the chilly nip from the North that tells us Winter is not far off.  (well, that and the retailers putting up the Christmas lights and stuff just past the Halloween goodies in the stores!)

For some of us, though, this change of seasons-from Summer to Autumn, leading to Winter- brings something a bit more challenging than allergies and decisions to put stuff on lay-away or not.  It brings memories of losses, challenges to health, concerns for the future, worries and stress.  I’m one of those people for whom the Fall is not an especially welcome season.  Devastating things have happened to my kids and to me in the Autumn months:  4 years ago this month, my kids’ father died.  3 years ago next month, my dear friend, Dr. Bob, found the tumor in my left eye that got this whole diagnosing thing going.  3 years ago on December 2nd, I was definitively diagnosed with Lung Junk.
I’m not the only one who marks the Autumn with concern and heavy heart.  Two years ago, a dear friend’s mother passed from lung cancer.  A couple of weeks later, a friend of mine passed from head and neck cancer.  Last November, a dear friend’s husband passed away from cancer, and now she finds herself dealing with a recurrence of a cancer that hasn’t made its presence known for over 16 years.  These are but a few of the devastating events I know about that have hit people I care about really hard in the Autumn months, a season of change.

How easy it would be for any of us to get bogged down in this devastation!  Really, to consider even trying to get back up from something so hard, so mean, so cruel!  What superpower of strength it would take to even try!  And yet……

We look around.  We see colors of the season, we smell change in the air, change that could include, if we dare it to, hope.  We hear sounds of rustling leaves, of children playing, of animals preparing for the next season–getting ready, as if they were not concerned at all that anything bad, anything devastating, could possibly happen.  Just getting ready anyway.

There’s beauty still to be seen, to be experienced, to be celebrated!  Like the beauty of a new baby born a few weeks ago, to my friend, Gina’s, daughter.  Or the new baby, Andrew,  born just last week to friends, Mary Beth and Russell, joining my other “surrogate grandchildren,” Fletcher and Betsy. And how many new grandchildren did my friend, Diane, greet in the past month?  Three?  More?  The beauty in the smile I can hear in my daughter, Emily’s, voice, whenever she calls to tell me how she’s doing way out in California.  There’s beauty in the face of daughter, Taylor, who learned how (and DID) to drain my lung catheter on Friday.  There was beauty in the belly laugh my son, Joey, gave me by, OK, tormenting the cat (Lil) a little bit.  But it was sooooo funny, and worth every breathless moment that followed!  There was great beauty to be experienced yesterday, when my friend, Sara, took me to Radnor Lake, just to sit near the water and enjoy the colors, the sounds, the smells (well, not with my stuffy nose, but you know what I mean), and each other’s company.  I felt kinda lousy in a way–sore back, really irritated eyes, but in the midst of this mess, this Lung Junk crap that is making me have to give up more and more of what used to be my “normal life,” there was a moment of beauty shared with a good friend.

Yes, sometimes it’s just so very hard to find that beauty in the midst of all this devastation:  kids dying of illnesses or in accidents, friends taken too soon, wars, arguments, election strife, financial woes, old age, disease, hunger,the haves and the have-nots, and on and on and on.  I, too, find it hard to find the beauty a lot of the time.  But it’s there, I promise.  If we’re very brave and very open to it, it’s there.  It’s how we find the balance in our otherwise devastating lives.  By finding the beauty in the midst of the devastation.

I’ll be holding that thought tomorrow as I go to my oncology visit, my last one with Leora as she heads out on her maternity leave, expecting the arrival of her second child.  I was not able to get my chemo last week because my counts were still too low, but hopefully they’ll be back up and I’ll be back in Vanilla Bean business.  And maybe Leora can tell me what to do to help my poor swollen and blurry eyes, which are more likely irritated by Tarceva than by Fall allergies.  And I won’t bug you too much this week about the up-coming 5K to benefit LUNGevity Foundation in Nashville on November 17th, but you CAN go here to find out more!  I’ll save the promo stuff for next week’s blog!  Be ready!

I leave with this image of Autumn beauty, with the hope that it gives you peace that leads you to balance this week.  (and me, too!)

autumn beauty

Much love,

Teri, the hoping to be beautiful Flying Elephant in the Land of Lung Junk



  1. Mike and Kathy,
    So sorry y’all are also here in the Land of Lung Junk. No place for nice folks like you to have to be! However, I want to offer you up some hope: now is the time when breakthroughs in lung cancer research are happening fast and wide! More treatment options are available than ever before with more coming down the pike. This is really good news. My best advice is to partner in your care and don’t go it alone-if you can find a support group, join in.
    I’m keeping you both in my prayers!

  2. Teri,

    I want to say THANK YOU for your blog and your books, and tell you how much we admire your fight. I’m a spousal caregiver whose wife was dx StageIV adenocarcinoma in August. So we’re new to this thing. I saw a post you made on another support site to this blog, and I ordered your first book. My wife is more of an audible learner, while I learn best from reading, so I read it and recite certain passages for her for inspiration and laughs when we find something we are experiencing that you explained with humor. I am working my way through it, a bit each day, and I look forward to reading your second year story. I know that you have lots of supporters, but you can add to your list a fellow in New Jersey (who actually loves Nashville!) and his fighting wife. God bless you and keep you strong in all ways, With the love of caring and respect from people you’ve never met,

    Mike and Kathy

  3. Patrick-
    I wish I knew an easy way to get that “is this my last…?” thought to go away. I just don’t know one. I think what’s clear is how much you cherish your family and the good times you share together. My prayer is that you have years of them ahead!

  4. Yes, Fall is a season of contradiction. Thanksgiving morning 1989 my wife awoke unable to walk and barely able to see or talk with her first Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation. By noon she was hospitalized and I was holding our then 18 month old daughter in my arms – I have never been more lost and confused. Yet over the decades, Fall is temperature wise the most MS friendly and has become our time for outings and living with MS as a family. Where we once walked through Fall leaves we now push and roll, … oh yeah and this Fall I have that “is this my last Fall” thing going through my head.

  5. Spoken so eloquently as only you can do. So pleased you were outside to see the fall colors and that you can still tease out of the morass the joy of living. Sending you my love a d gratitude for being a part of your life.
    Love, Ronnie

  6. Great picture and heartfelt story.
    Good luck to you tomorrow. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  7. What a beautiful picture coming from a beautiful person. Good luck tomm.

  8. Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful autumn colors and the company of a friend – which is always a precious time. I will be praying for you tomorrow my dear friend that your numbers will be good so you can get your “vanilla bean”. Blessings!!

  9. Nice!


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