Thursday, April 23, 2015

waiting for the sound of the whistle





We stood at the deep end of the pool, off to the side, shivering as we heard the instructions for our last  class test.  It was a junior lifesaving swim class.  I don't recall how old I was, only how terrified I felt inside.


Our instructor, had just hurled a block of black rubber, (maybe 10 lbs?) down into the 12 foot depths of the deep end of the pool.  Our task, was to get in, swim down, and then somehow, pick it up, and bring it to the top of the water, then thrust it up over our heads.

Even our instructor looked dubious this day, at my friend, Rebekah and I, (the only two girls in the class) and our scrawny little bodies, how would we manage this task?  The boys had completed and passed the test on another day.

So our teacher said, we just needed to figure it out.  She kept shaking her head, questioning how this made sense.  If we failed this test, even though we passed every other test, we'd fail the class. 

So she said we could try and try, until somehow, we figured it out.


I just remember standing there, shaking.  I was relieved it was cold, and no one would wonder about the shivering.  Because the shaking?  Was pure nerves.


I think I dove into the water the first few times.  But I was so buoyant, I couldn't get past a mid-level range of depth before I'd be forced back up, despite my attempts to claw myself back down.  But the pressure was squeezing so tightly around my lungs, I felt like I was suffocating, my thirst for air so strong.  I had to fight against my natural inclinations to breathe, in order to keep going down.  Rebekah, was no different.

Finally, I just decided to jump in.  And somehow, the idea of propulsion kicked in.  

We both began jumping in and instinctively threw our arms over our heads, and pointed our toes straight down, in awe of how much more quickly we could get down.


Rebekah finally exclaimed she'd found the bottom, on the last try.  Now where was the brick? 

We were growing exhausted by now, nearly half the class time had passed.

How on earth would we now find and grab that brick, and get it to the top, before running out of air?


Somehow, despite our nerves, we kept jumping in.  A small crowd of swimmers and instructors gathered around.  

Eventually we found the brick with our feet.

And then.  

Rebekah grabbed the block.  And kicked and kicked with her legs.  Once, then again, dropping it to the bottom, having to come up for air. Would she ever get it all the way up?  

Would I? 

  Suddenly,  Rebekah's head finally broke the surface of the water- and she still held the brick!   Could this be it?  While she couldn't hoist the block above her head like the boys had- a small glimpse of a corner of the block was seen coming out of the water as Rebekah's head started going back under… oh no… don't let her drop the brick!

But she held on, persevering, despite the odds.  And it was all it took for the instructor to blow her whistle signaling Rebekah had passed the test.

As she swam over to the edge, completely out of breath, getting helped out of the pool to go and lie down, her sides heaving… I stood alone at the edge of the pool, summoning every last shred of strength I could muster to try again.


All these years later, I've found myself staring up from the bottom of the deep end of the pool  in wonderment once again.

How am I going to do this?


The brain MRI shows 2 tumors, both growing.  

One has been treated with radiation before.  Is it really growing?  Or could it be necrosis- or tissue dying that we really see?  Its impossible to tell on a scan.

The suggestion for my next step?

To meet with a neurosurgeon.

Brain surgery.

Just one option to consider.  Others have been presented too.  But its too overwhelming to think of too much for now. 

So, I'm standing here again, looking up from the depths of the pool wondering how on earth I am going to hoist that big, black, block, up out of the water, so that I can breathe free again.

Because I'm shaking again, and  and I have to somehow summon the courage to face the smothering and murky deep end all over again.  

And yet… all those years ago...

With all eyes on me,  I jumped again.  This part had grown easy.  Then suddenly, I felt the block with my toes and managed to kick it up with my feet.  As the end came up, I leaned down a bit, and grabbed it between my hands.  

I kicked and kicked.  The air squeezed out of my lungs as I climbed through the blackish-blue depths of the pool.  

And then… as the water turned bluer, and the light started to stream in… my head burst out of the water, as the brick stayed in my grasp between my knees. 

But no matter how much I kicked and gasped and struggled, I couldn't for the life of me hoist the brick.   

On the verge of defeat, all I recall, is that I simply leaned my head back, arched my back, and by some miracle I'll never quite understand, the brick arched through the water with me, just long enough for the instructor to see.  As my head plunged backward through the water, it was the sound of the whistle that day, that was my saving grace.  


I'm still making it through my days, but at times I feel a far off look grow upon my face.  I'm straining, listening, longing- for the sound of the whistle blowing one more time. 


















44 comments:

  1. God bless you woman. Keep diving and kicking and listening for the whistle and I'll keep praying for you!

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    1. Will do! Thankful for your encouragement and prayers, always~

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  2. When they told me I had to have brain surgery, it sounded impossible. But I did it, in my 60's. Then I did it two more times.
    You can do this. Just do it one day at a time. That's all we have to do.

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    1. HIlary- it feels so good to hear from you today. Yes- you have done it- so many times and so well. I am going to lean on that- and your solid advice as well. xxoo

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  3. Agreeing with Hilary. I wish it were not this way ... but I know that each step you will receive grace and strength from above.

    This post had me holding my breath again, like I was the one in the pool. Your gift of words brings us close, even when we are miles away.

    Love and prayers.

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    1. Thank you, Susan- your prayers and kind words always help buoy me and keep me going. Love and prayers to you~

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    1. Thank you Franicis- right back to you~

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  5. love you! prayers and hugs - strength to you vicky!!
    xo

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    1. Much love and prayers to you, honey~

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  6. I'm so sorry that you may have to have the brain surgery...I don't doubt that God will hold you up-bring you through-give you grace...I'm just sorry that you may have to walk this path sweet one. love you and praying as always xo

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    1. My heart and prayers are with you- right now!

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  7. Replies
    1. Thank you sweet friend- so much.

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  8. What a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching connection between your childhood experience and your most recent news. Although you always handle whatever comes your way with such grace, I know that the little girl inside of you is feeling anxious and more than a little scared. I pray that you will continue to lean into your faith and give up your worries and anxieties up to God. I will be praying for the doctors to make the best possible treatment decisions. And as always, I will pray that you will find peace and comfort in all the love, support and prayers that surround you and your family. Hugs, dear friend!

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    1. I appreciate your wise and comforting words, Steph, so very much. Hugs right back to you dear friend!

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  9. I find it impossible to come up with a worthy comment to express the regard and heartache I have for you Vicky. I just want you to know you are heard and that your story, your words, your heart is honored. Please God bless this woman with peace and comfort.

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  10. I find it impossible to come up with a worthy comment to express the regard and heartache I have for you Vicky. I just want you to know you are heard and that your story, your words, your heart is honored. Please God bless this woman with peace and comfort.

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    1. Oh Arie- just seeing you here means so much to me, friend. Thank you!

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  11. I found myself holding my breath at the end of your post and then letting out a big exhale at the end. I turn now to pray for my blog friend to find the bottom of the pool once again and kick and kick and kick for the next part of the journey. Come, Holy Spirit and give Vicki the strength and wisdom for the next step. Let her know that those of us on this side of her blog will be praying, cheering and lifting her up. Love and many hugs!

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    1. Thankful for your precious prayers, Jenny- am kicking away with your help. Love right back to you and many hugs too!

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  12. tears here... praying for you, for the merciful sound of that whistle... believe, Vicky. Believe.

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    1. With your help and support, Karen, you make me feel like I can. So thankful for all you do for me.

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  13. My dear, sweet friend,
    I find myself holding my breath, tears streaming as I read each word. The story at the pool. The lessons. The brain surgery option. And I am left with such wisdom, your wisdom sweet friend. Wisdom and hope and believing...found in your words.

    And I am struck by the sentence..."somehow, despite our nerves, we kept jumping in." The young Vicky knowing that..."she held on, despite the odds." You are still that brave and courageous and scared spitless person, my dear friend. And just as you did then, you will
    summon the courage, His courage, "to face the smothering and murky deep end all over again."

    I wish this wasn't so, my friend, but I know that step by step the brave little girl who took on the challenge of the pool will day by day take on this challenge too. You are not alone, my sweet Vicky, God is there, every step of the way, and so are we. So are we.

    May you know in your deepest heart-of-hearts that I am holding your hand as we jump in together.

    Love you, to the moon and back, always. And I am praying and believing.
    Linda

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    1. There is no way I could say this any more succinctly than Linda has, Vicky. She captured my heart and thoughts as I wrote out a long comment on my iPhone a few days ago only to have it all disappear. Thank you, Linda.

      Your writing and how you connected these two stories brought into sharp relief what you are feeling and experiencing, Vicky. I can't imagine you feel this is even remotely possible in light of all you have already gone through and especially what you have recently experienced with your mother's passing. And I believe STRONGLY that it's okay to just sit and tell God, "Uh, I can't do this." I told him that about a situation for several years and yet, I still kept doing it. Mind you, many times it was kicking and screaming but now I manage, most times to walk into the situation with grace and with my stress reduced and I can only attribute that to God allowing me to fully tell Him that I couldn't while he strengthened my "Yes, you can" muscles. Of course it is not the life battle that you are facing, Vicky, so let me not in ANY WAY convey that our situations are the same. And though my issue is not life threatening, it has been soul and spirit threatening many times. That is the ONLY reason I feel I can understand in some small way the overwhelm that insists we cannot move forward.

      But He will equip you, Vicky. He will. He will see you through and we will pray and He will get your heart and mind prepared in infinitesimal ways that you may not even feel or realize. It will just be there. And you will push off and you will rise with that brick. A very young Vicky was strengthening an older Vicky even then. I love you, Honey, and you are never far from my thoughts. We are all with you and we are also here if you need to fall apart. It's all part of the same process of falling forward. We are believers and we stand with you and we'll "hold up your arms" if you can't. Major warm, warm hugs. And lots of them.

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    2. Linda and Robynn~

      You are cut from the same cloth and I am in awe of your ability to so beautifully encourage me in precisely the way I need. I am soaking in your wise perspectives and experiences and yes, Robynn, strengthening my "yes I can" muscle- precisely the thing I needed to read and hear. Falling forward- yes that too- with you by my side, always. Love to both of you dear ones- Linda and Robynn.

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  14. Replies
    1. Thank you, Sally- so very much- xxoo

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  15. Your urge to live, to accomplish great things, despite tremendous odds, is inspiring. You are definitely NOT scrawny of spirit.

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    1. Oh Kass- you have a way with words- exquisitely said and humbling at the same time. Let me be not scrawny in spirit- amen :)

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  16. Im struck by your Indomitable Spirit and Perseverance. God Bless and stay true to your warrior way.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy- no other way to do this- back's against the wall- so I'm going to just keep going :)

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  17. I remember those days lol
    I could not learn how to swim until someone pushed me into the deep end.
    I didn't panic and sunk to the bottom. Then I figured I better swim cause I was running out of air.
    That's how I learned to swim. Today I can't sink like that anymore. I am a floater but later, when I became a great and powerful swimmer I learned that I could always walk my way out into shallow water. I wonder how many kids would think to do that? Probably none.
    Hold on Vicky. If you can't swim, just walk out. xoxoxox

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    1. Oh gosh- what a frightening way to discover how to swim. Yes- walking and getting used to it slowly is less terrifying, and more assuring- will take that advice to heart, Vic- thank you :)

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  18. No words. Only Holy Goosebumps. And utter gratitude for your writing. And for you.

    I love you.

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    1. "Holy Goosebumps," oh goodness- that is my new favorite expression. And I am so grateful for you, Julie. Love you!

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  19. Oh, Vicky, how I wish you didn't have to face this--especially now. I can only add my love and {{{hugs}}} and prayers for strength, peace and wisdom during this time.

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    1. I will gladly take those hugs and the love and prayers- so thankful for all of it Sharon- blessings and love to you.

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  20. Vicky,
    All of these years I've never commented on your blog... But boy I have I prayed and prayed for you. I decided to let you know that so that in this very difficult time you would be reminded that there is an army of people out there praying for you... Many whom, I'm sure, you are even unaware of. I hope all of these prayers surround you and you are graced with the peace of God... That peace that surpasses our understanding.

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    1. Thank you mamsuda- so wonderful to meet my readers- even years later- it blesses me so- and it does make me shake my head in wonder at the "army" out there praying on my behalf- very humbling.

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  21. Oh my, I felt myself holding my breath as I read your words, and was right there with you. We are all with you right now, in prayer and thought. You are magnificent! And you are not alone. How I wish you didn't have to face this, but you have reserves of strength that you haven't found yet. God and your angels will give you the grace and the strength to endure, when the time comes. I will keep you in my prayers. Please rest and take all these beautiful messages to heart, seek for guidance and be still and listen. You will know how to go on, and whatever the outcome; you will be lovingly cared for and alright. Bless your heart, you amazing woman of God. :)

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    1. So glad to see you here- and know you were with me breathing right along :) So thankful for your grace-filled words- they are a balm to my weary soul. Love and blessings right back to you~

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  22. I can't recall the address or the rest of the verse...just this..."my strength I leave with you"...many many prayers.

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    1. Thank you, Kellie- I'll take that-and all the prayers. So thankful to you!

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