Tuesday, May 27, 2014

what cancer is teaching me...



A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~Henry David Thoreau

I grew up spending summers at the lake.  We had nothing more than a pull-behind trailer that we parked on a spot in a campground.  It was a mere 45 minutes from our house, but it felt like lightyears away.  I spent my time at the campground- on the beach and in the water- as much as possible.  I loved to swim.  To dive off the diving platform out by the buoys.  One side facing the swimming area, with the sandy bottom visible to the eye.  The other side, dark and deep with murkiness, the bottom, said to be 30 feet away.  The lake had drop offs measured to be 90 feet deep in some areas.  

Diving off into the forboding dark side, always felt dangerous and exhilarating.  I had worked my way through swim classes, that demanded more and more endurance, skill and survival techniques.  Something about just me and that deep water taught me how to grow into trust of myself over the years.

Its been years since I've had the chance to swim like I used to. My non-healing mastectomy wound simply can't be exposed to water.  As much as I long for the beach in the summer, I've had to learn to turn that desire down to a low simmer. 

It seems that cancer has taught me- that I have to give up some of the healthy parts of myself, in sacrifice to the diseased parts of myself- so that the living parts of myself can go on.  

If I can't dive into the deep end of the water?  What can I dive into with equal abandon and exhilaration?  What new things will I discover by letting go of the wall, and pushing off into the deep end of the uncertain and unknown?  


I was giddy to go to the lake this past weekend and explore.  My father-in-law's lake, while not being the most swimmer friendly, is boat and fish friendly and our family loves going.


The fish were biting abundantly and often all 3 fishermen had fish on the hook at the same time.
  













Grandpa Jim has retired the waders this spring, and handed them down to Nolan.



Nolan with some help from Dad rolled both the dock and the boat lift out into the lake and secured them in place for the season. 




The lump in my throat grows as I fully feel who isn't amongst us.  Rick's mom, Carole's spirit is entwined in every vignette around the lake home.  She had an eye for decorating, and making each room a favorite at different times of the day.  We miss her so.


Colton and I were fascinated with the squirrels right outside our door.  This grey one is HUGE! 


It took us awhile to discover that black lump in the tree- is really another squirrel. 


We sat by the rocker watching as the birds fed at the feeder, and the squirrels snuck up the stairs to find the seeds Jim had left for them by the door.



But we didn't stay indoors for long.  The sun was too inviting.  

Nothing but bokeh- my favorite kind to capture.









Grandpa knows exactly what kinds of things boys love to do.  The target sat at the edge of the treed area in the distance.



The sun was setting close to 9 pm and I was only too aware of how beautiful it can be setting down by the lake.

But Rick and I would have to drive to get to the right side and find a spot to safely park.  We took off without a whisper of where we were going. 

We drove and drove.  Around one lake and over to another.  Past golf courses, and campgrounds.  

Till suddenly we happened across an open meadow, that took our breath away instantly.  Rick rolled to a stop and we were out with our cameras instantly.

(Its worth clicking on some of these photos to enlarge.)

I wasn't dressed for the long grass, the deep sandy ruts, the thick stubby grass stinging my sandaled feet.

I didn't care.  My lungs ached with each climb, each pass I made along the meadows.  My lungs burned, my legs ached.  Dizziness and breathlessness ensued.  

But the smell of the meadow?  The white and crisp light bathing every square inch of the earth?  And what we would discover as we ventured closer to the pasture?  

I was letting go of the wall- pushing off into the deep end.  Willing my body to go where my spirit led. 









It was the babies that melted me.  The Colts.  My husband's talented eyes (and big lens) for seeing them in their beauty.











We were miles away from where we needed to be for the sunset.  We eventually left to travel the winding gravel roads back to the lake.  But first we stopped for deer standing in the road.  And then we slowed for the wild turkey stealthily feeding near the ditch.   We swerved just in time to spare the turtle, and soon found ourselves back at the lake.

A haze had been apparent all day and made for a muted sun setting, but beautiful just the same.












We ended our weekend visiting family.  My Grandma and Grandpa are here under this tree, with my Dad right next to them.  Mom will have a spot next to Dad.


My soft hearted- teary-eyed boy who truly misses his Grandpa, and Grandma.


Rick's mom is only a few rows away, right next to her grandson, our nephew, Hunter.  Hunter was 4 months old when he left us, and would have been as old as Nolan today.  




Our last visit was to see mom.  She beamed when we were in the elevator and a resident said to her, "Mary Ann, you have the most company come to visit than anyone I know!"  

It shows in my mom what excellent care she is receiving.  She is relaxed, strong, and back to a healthier version of herself.  




Swimming is still on my bucket list.  So I'm letting go again, nosing towards the deep end, and letting Dr. Antoniuk, a local plastic surgeon, try to repair my mastectomy wound.  

More details to follow soon.  I have cardiac function tests and some blood work to complete and then another visit with Dr. Antoniuk.  

As Dory would say in Finding Nemo- "Just keep swimming."








32 comments:

  1. what a wondrous array of photos you and Rick took for today's post! I can't believe how big the boys are, just like my twin grandsons! they are now 6 inches taller than me and are turning 13 on Sunday. your sunset pics as I scrolled down remind me of someone pulling the shade down on a window, but much more glorious! I wish you well.

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    1. Happy belated Birthday to your grandsons! Teenagers now- oh goodness-it does go by quickly. And taller than you at only 13? Wow!

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  2. i love spending this time with you each time you write. i feel like you've invited me to sit close as you share your pictures and what was going through your head as you clicked.

    you know what else i like? rick doesn't feel there's room for only one photographer in the family. he invests in your relationship and your talent when he takes you and sneaks off, chasing the sun. reminds me of another woman whose husband handed her her camera and told her to go chase the moon. :-)

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    1. I especially love your thoughts about Rick… he would much rather teach me, or anyone who wants to learn for that matter. He doesn't ever hold back on sharing what he knows. The irony to me is how much I used to resist stopping for him all the time. I simply wanted to get where we were going, and he'd want to stop and shoot photos along the way. My how I have changed!

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  3. The phrase "the fullness of being" kept coming to me as I read and viewed this post, Vicky.

    You have certainly orchestrated your life with all the instruments and notes that make it rich and melodious - with everything that matters ... with the people, environment, values, attitudes and choices that make a life a living symphony!

    Gorgeous photographs, btw!!!

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    1. Bonnie- that is a glorious phrase- resonates deeply with me- "the fullness of being." I'm very honored you would see those qualities through my writing. I realize how much better I have been feeling and how much I missed last year. I'm doing what I can to make up time- it feels like a gift to feel so well and have the opportunity to do these things. Thank you for your thoughtful words!

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  4. Your mother is looking great! Good that you had such a wonderful time at the lake! Love the colts, to see young babies growing is so wonderful! Glad you were able to go to the lake, prayong the doctor can help with thw wound so that you may once again go swimming! Love ya dear, have a great week!

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    1. Thanks so much Verna- I hope you and Bud are doing well too! Think of you often and the grands and hope you are spending time with them and enjoying some good weather!

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  5. oooh, that precious foal. Beautiful images here, Vicky. and your writing... I know I say it often, but ..just.. wow.

    If you want a new header with one of those images, send it my way.

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    1. Thanks Karen- foal- that was probably the word I was looking for :)

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  6. These are so beautiful, all of them!! What a wonderfully lovely place to be, with your family and the loving memories of those who have passed. God bless your journey forward, dear Vicky. Your words of love and wisdom bless my heart.

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    1. Thank you Susan- as do your thoughtful and kind words- always bless me so!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your weekend in photo and word. The photos are so beautiful. Your words about sacrificing for health is so true. Sacrifices must be made now to give our bodies all they need to heal. I was until Sunday evening following a strict diet focusing on more vegetables and eliminating as much sugar and carbs from my diet as possible. It gets old real fast especially on a holiday weekend. Anyway, thank you again for sharing your wonderful weekend. Continuing to pray for healing and help.

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    1. I am in the midst of something like that as well! Back to greens, veggies, some fruits, and whole grains and almond milk. It sure does give my energy a boost and so its worth the sacrifice for now. Thank you for coming here to share in my weekend- I pray yours was good as well!

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    2. Yes, it was a good weekend. Both boys were home and I was able to work. Up until this year, evenings and weekends were getting old but after not working a few months, those few hours out are a blessing. It's just like you said in a post above, "Things change".

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  8. It's always a blessing to stop by your blog, Vicky. And I have felt this too, most recently on choir tour to NYC. My body was not up for it, but my spirit was. Yes, I know this well: "...was letting go of the wall- pushing off into the deep end. Willing my body to go where my spirit led." Thanks for putting it into words for me, friend. I loved your photos. Just loved them.

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    1. I'm glad you can relate to my experience through words- although I'm sorry you were feeling poorly health-wise. Hopefully you found some reprieve and some rejuvenation through your travels as well!

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  9. Oh my sweet friend,
    As I tour through your weekend with these poignant photographs, I am so struck by
    the circle of life...of beginnings and endings. New colts with their Mamas, new grass, a new season after a long, long winter. A huge missing of Carole at the lake, her spirit everywhere,
    a passing of waders from one generation to the next, and the picture of your sweet Colton, teary eyed, missing his Grandma and Grandpa.

    I love the song from "Fiddler on the Roof"...Sunrise, Sunset, quickly flow the years. One season following the other. Laden with happiness and tears." And your sunset pictures gave me such a sense of peace. I chuckle at the notion of you and Rick sneaking off for time together! :)

    Thank you, thank you, sweet Vicky, for sharing this journey with us. You are "becoming" in all of these life-lessons. Thank you for your transparency as you articulate what cancer is teaching you....you are truly teaching us.

    Love you to the moon and back, sweet friend!
    Prayers always, love, and warm hugs!
    Linda

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    1. You always have such wisdom to share through your own perspective and I think we all have come to love that point of view and look forward to what your take will be! Thankful for you friend- I equally learn as much from you!

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  10. Beautiful post, Vicky. The pictures are breathtaking. God bless...

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    1. Thank you Katie- blessings to you as well!

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  11. were does one begin....your words, so eloquent and beautiful, exspreesing much more then what each word truly means! the pictures...oh my...gorgeous. Each and every one..that painting of what you wrote... The cabin looks so inviting, the lake like a dream scape...the meadow so tranquil and the baby colts... so beautiful. the loved ones in your pictures, living, enjoying, feeling, being... I am a swimmer too. Like you as a child I had no problems jumping into the deap dark water...even the temp of the water didn't bother me because I loved loved to swim. I would push myself to swim across lakes...and under water. The breast stroke and the butterfly. But somewhere this desire to swim like that faded..I think because I am to busy keeping and eye out for little ones around water..and my husband cant swim... Yet I have that choice and once again you pointed out..what we take for granted..that choice has not been yours to make. So I pray that your upcoming surgery goes well, so that you can 'enjoy' swimming again. For me being under water was like being in a different world..I loved the feel of the water around me, the quiet, muffle of the sounds above...sometimes I pretended i was a mermaid :) Vicky, your pictures all of them..you were in each moment..seeing all the beauty around you...capturing light and leaves and spider web's, wild life, baby colts, sunset's and lakes and loves! What a beautiful post! Much love and hugs!

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    1. I think it took a long time for me to grow comfortable in the deeper water. I truly had to battle fear and nerves about having enough strength to last when not touching the wall, or not knowing the depth of the lake and if that would become an issue. I was a skinny girl and definitely had to build up some stamina before I truly felt my mind ease into being able to do it! I have a feeling most of my pictures emulate the very surrounding you have right now in your new place! Hope you are still enjoying them! Much love to you!

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  12. Beautiful pictures, Vicky! It refreshes ones soul to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of God's creation in a beautiful, peaceful setting. The memories I have of my grandparents' house at the lake are just as yours. It was only about 10 miles from our house but it felt like so much more and we spent many a day there swimming and having cookouts with family.

    Sending love and hugs, Eileen

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    1. Eileen- how wonderful that it was only 10 minutes away! I can only imagine the adventure and fun awaiting you. Our summers are so treasured and fleeting and we pack as much into them as possible! Love and hugs to you!

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  13. It never fails to amaze me how you can find so much beauty in the face of cancer. You are amazing.

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    1. Hilary- I am not alone in that camp- we all marvel at how much you do considering what you are faced with- you dear are also amazing!!

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  14. Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. This one was such an exhilarating journey for me to travel with you.

    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT.
    Love you.

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    1. Thank you sweet friend- such a pleasure to have you along for the journey. Love you right back~

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  15. oh these photos...they took my breath. I felt like I was there in the meadow, looking out over the lake...such talent my friend. Thank you for sharing your beautiful moments . Love you so xo

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  16. Such a lovely post! and boy do I remember the joy of pike fishing.!
    Sure is fun to live by the lake.You never get tired of the sunsets or of the shimmering water.
    Then to find those special places hidden from every one except the animals to enjoy.
    God is great isn't he? He knows how to feed the soul.

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  17. So WONDERFUL to see the lake again! And to see the snow GONE! And to see everything springing to life and fish jumping and boys hopping to. I miss seeing Carole in the pictures at the lake house but it's so beautiful in how it reflects her touch. Miss seeing your dad's dear, friendly face, too. He was my "if-I-had-a-dad dad" but, you know that. You captured the beauty of this area so perfectly. Could look at those pictures for a long span. And I can't wait until you're back treading deep water - and not as a metaphor! Now on to check on the surgery......

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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