8/23: Your Footprints



it's august. people travel in august. have you been on vacation? it's been a month since i wrote -- have you wondered if maybe we were on vacation? we kind of have been: a brief little vacation from sleep.


but that's (maybe) settling down and the little one is consistently out at 8pm and getting up between 4 and 7am. we're very much counting our blessings that way.


beyond that i don't like doing a lot of writing about how i wish i'd been doing more writing, but there it is: you've been on my mind. i wish i'd written more often in these past weeks. it means so much to be in touch with you, to hear back from you the way you're carrying this prayer, the way this is touching your life.


so. please feel the love underneath the silence. it's kinda like that old story "footprints." except that in the times you don't sense that i'm around, i'm completely overwhelmed with life, and you're supporting me.


anyway, here's The Things I Have To Say:


rebecca started taking a pool fitness class, one of those where you do aerobics and stretchy kind of things in the water. it's billed as a rehab class i think, and she said that it's mostly people recovering from back or hip surgery. she says she's the only one still in possession of anything but grey hairs.


and she loves it! being there means that she can do everything the instructor says, she feels great about her capacity, and it's improving week to week, little by little.


the class after rebecca's is for pregnant moms. one thing that's become compulsory for us since becoming new parents is that if we see someone with a kid that's within a year of solas' age (in either direction) we chat up the parents. i don't know what they get out of it. i'm not even sure what we get out of it. maybe just a sense of connection, a sense that maybe they'll understand that birthing is a front-row seat to a miracle no matter how commonplace it is, like a sunset that you bring home with you and rock to sleep. a sense that maybe these people can understand that we just birthed a tiny god.


that was a thing that came through in rebecca's pregnancy. you know, we live in a culture that doesn't value motherhood all that much. there's a lot more lip service paid to it than there is public assistance paid to struggling moms. there's enormous gender disparity in wages, and if a political candidate supports family leave for new parents they're an unelectable radical. i could go on. so could you.


well that all landed on rebecca's heart when she was pregnant. we were living on that sheep ranch and she came to a point where she just couldn't do any chores. one day she informed the folks we lived with that even the lighter-duty work she'd signed on for wasn't within her capacity and we walked back home and i held her and she cried.


she said she felt useless. like she wasn't contributing and that it wasn't okay even though people said it was okay it didn't feel okay to her and did anyone give her that impression well no but still...


and at the very same moment she said she felt like she was doing the most important work that there was. and that there was a light in her that she wanted to celebrate and have celebrated. she said she knew what mary felt like, because she felt like she was carrying the light of God in her belly and that the whole world didn't care and didn't understand. and she felt like No One understood. and that felt true for a little bit. and then she thought about all of the other women who've ever been in hopeless love with their babes. they must understand. and especially every latina who ever named her child jesus.


so, it's after rebecca's rehab-robics pool class, and she's talking to another mary about her incoming jesus. the woman was showing and rebecca asked how many and she said five months pregnant.


"ah, beautiful. we have a five-month-old at home!"


"oh, what are you here for?"


"i was in the physical rehab class that just ended"


the woman pauses, thinks about all the things that can go catastrophically wrong with a pregnancy, thinks about how she doesn't want to think about all those things, thinks about how she kinda wants to know what went on with rebecca 'cause maybe there's something she should know about, finally she realizes: "...i don't know if i want to know."


"oh, don't worry! i have cancer!"



she told me the story when she got home and we laughed and laughed. and then she cried and cried. she misses being pregnant, and she misses those five days when she was breastfeeding, and she feels kinda like she missed out on the birth and motherhood she dreamed of. it's also possible that we'll never have another kid, that this is our one and only. and oh what a privilege to have a child come into your arms, your family. and still there's dreams and when the water of life meanders around them they wither and die.


and that's hard.


of course.


it's a hard course to travel. when rebecca was nursing she said, "i knew that i'd like this, but this is the best feeling i've Ever had."


and then we had to stop five days in. agonizing.


and it's because of the cancer treatment. this tarceva, that maybe comes in second to your prayers in importance, that helped open the floodgates of healing and tumor dissolution, this tarceva means she couldn't breastfeed. and that was hard.


is still hard.


of course.


and i'm so grateful for it.


when a mother breastfeeds, there's certain foods that are Great for fighting cancer that are Not Great for your breastmilk. parsley is one that i remember. there's others. also when a mother breastfeeds, her energy is going into the baby. also when a mother breastfeeds, she's gotta get up to feed the kid in the middle of the night.


that's great for a healthy ma. that's an incredible gift to the kid and mom and kid-mom intimacy. but that's not where we need rebecca's head, heart or body to be in the middle of the night when her body's rebuilding itself. her energy needs to go into her. what a weird balancing act that is for a first-time ma with an extroverted heart.


my point is that if it weren't for the tarceva, i don't know that we would have had the strength to end the breastfeeding so quickly. and it's absolutely the best choice to make for her health. and so we're grateful for that effect of the drug, cruel as it seemed in the moment.


we're giving thanks for the obliteration of that path; otherwise we might not have turned from it.




the last scans we had, you've already heard, showed progress in a positive direction. but not anywhere near as positive as the scans before. especially her lungs are still riddled with tumors, tiny tumors but they're there nonetheless.


and so i think it makes sense to direct our prayers that way. some folks have been focusing their prayer work on the gramma tumor on her upper left lobe. now let us all restore rebecca's lungs to their state of wholeness. let her lungs know only radiant health. the doctor said he'd never seen all evidence of tumors disappear from someone's eyes before. lungs, you're next!


may rebecca's lungs be restored to perfect health
may her body be clear of all tumors

we give thanks for the restoration of her eyesight

we give thanks for the ongoing health of baby solas


with praise to the air that carries our praise

with praise to the fire that glows in our hearts

with praise to the water that carves our paths

with praise to the earth that holds us close

with praise to the Spirit that our souls remember


in the name of jesus

in the arms of the marys

under the mantle of brigid



with faith...