Friday, May 25, 2012

When Grace is hard...

She sat holding a wee tiny baby.  I was nearby waiting for my turn for labs to be drawn at the Cancer Center.  Her hair caught my eye.  It was dark and swept up in a pony tail.  But when the sun shone down, it showcased the blues, the violets, the reds, all carefully woven into her bejeweled- colored hair.

And then that cry.  That "fresh baked" sound that only a newborn can make.  He turned his head and I saw the cutest face.  The tiny lips pressed into that perfectly made "o" as he stretched and moved about in his mother's arms. He was perfection.

I was mesmerized.  I wanted to catch her eye, to smile and acknowledge how joy filled my heart at seeing this new babe.

And then.

I saw...

the cancer center pager.

In her lap.

My heart dropped.  I wanted even more to go to her.  To somehow offer something...

And then

I saw

her tears slip.  And my heart sank.

Oh no, nooo, no.


my knee started buzzing as my own pager went off.

And I had to go.

And she wouldn't look.  I couldn't intrude.  My own tears now brimming.

She just hugged that babe close and rocked and rocked.

I walked past, leaving my heart

shattered at her feet.

She looked nervous.  She fidgeted with the edge of her coat.  Finally looking right at me she blurted out "its my first day at radiation. I'm so nervous.  I wonder what this will be like?  I have breast cancer and this is the last part of my treatment. Do you know what this is like?"

Wow, I think... this never happens to me.  I never get to meet other breast cancer patients and can talk to them in this way.  I'm excited to relate to her.

"Oh its my first day too I say... "  and then I forget and the next sentence escapes me before I have time to think... "well I did have a one time treatment to my brain last week, so technically its not my very first radiation experience, and I'm here for treatment to my spine."

And the woman shrinks back just like that.  She visibly shifts all her weight away from me and a pained look of horror and shock comes over her.

"Ohhh she said... it spread?  You have the "one" that spreads?"

Oh... yikes.  I know in an instant what it is... I am her worst nightmare.  I am the stage IV nobody wants to become.   I am her worst fear, worst case scenario, and I am sitting way too close to her today.

Fortunately my name gets called.  I leave her sitting with the remnants of shock still clinging to her face.


He is a talker.  As soon as Dr. Panwalkar seats me at the infusion center,  the man leans over and tells me  Dr. Panwalkar is his doctor too.  "Doesn't he have a great laugh?"  "Yes, I agree, great laugh."

He proceeds to prattle on about his dogs, his grown kids, his apartment.  He has given away his car as he won't have need for it anymore.  The bus accommodates him well these days.

He quiets a moment and lowers his voice.   I turn to him, lean in, and give him all of me I can.

Keeping a steady eye on me he shares more...

He thinks he doesn't have long now.  His eyes go far away.  But he has made all of his arrangements.   As I nod, and smile and offer a word or two of encouragement, he keeps talking.  I let him go on and on- sensing the relief and peace he seems to feel.

He just needs someone to not shrink back from him.  To hear his story.  To validate his existence.

He is called back to infusion then and he shuffles off.  He is already bending the ear of the nurses aid bringing him back to his infusion room.

I let the peace I feel from his words, descend fully upon me and wait for my name to be called.


All is grace...

Even when its hard grace some days.  When I've tossed and turned all night.  Wrapping in blankets to get warm, only to wake to sweat filled sheets and clammy skin as chemo-pause sinks its teeth into me.

When my wig feels confining and itchy.   And I feel every bit as vulnerable wearing it, as I do not wearing it.

When my skin sallows, my eyes hollow.

When all I see is a ghost of a girl I once knew, peering back at me in the mirror.

Grace still calls to me.  In the hard and the every day.

In the cry of a newborn.  In a mother's deep love for her baby that shines as bright as her bejeweled hair.

In the people who don't shrink back. Whose gaze is steady and reassuring.

When the rains prevails after the thunder cracks and booms all night.  Then a break in the cloud emerges.  And the sun streaks gloriously, tinting the dark clouds pink and purple.

Out of the darkness, light prevails.  And grace calls...


  1. Wow, you amaze me every day. You have more grace than anyone I know. How can we all not just sit here in amazement at you, your strength, your beauty...and it's all just you being you. It's an honor to call you my friend!

    Love you to pieces!

  2. As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster.

  3. You paint such a vivid picture with words. You have the gift. I love how you listened to the older fellow. I pray you receive overflowing grace everyday.

  4. Vicky, you touch everyone who comes in contact with you with your grace, presence and compassion. What a gift that as a wordsmith you can also convey these qualities and your observations so beautifully in your writing.

    Thank you for using your energies to help us better understand ...

  5. All is well said, dear one. How I've been praying for the mother and babe since you left the comment so many weeks I've been praying for you. For your heart, your acceptance, your light to stay bright, and so it has. So thankful for the gift of you in this life to walk beside me. SO. THANKFUL. xoxo

  6. Tears ... just tears ... and gratitude for you.

  7. Amazing...grace.
    Amazing...chills, tears and goosebumps when I read your spirit filled words.
    Amazing...His love never quits.

  8. Becky (first comment), you spoke for me this morning. What HE infuses you with, Vicky, is way more than any chemo could ever do. The more challenged you are, the more grace you pour out. Your stories are palpable and each of those lives is so filled with the hard granite of living day-to-day with heartache. And you understand that so deeply that you always recognize it. God lift you up and strengthen you for your own battle and as you carry the other wounded from the battle field. Love you.

  9. VIcky that was heartwrenching and heartwarming all at once....I honestly have no other words right now. Bless you and all who are dealing with the nasty "C" word.

  10. I agree with Becky, you Have more Grace then anybody I know. I. Count it. A blessing to be your friend! Even when you are having trials and hurts you are asking ow you can pray for us and lend a listening ear to others. God certainly has given you a heart of gold! Hugs to you!

  11. Wow, I'm speechless. HUGS and hope your weekend is filled with joy.

  12. You are a gifted writer. Full of grace and love, all you encounter are so lucky to have you. I have something to drop off next week. xoxo

  13. Vicky--you have more grace than anyone I've ever known. Saying you are a very special, unique, awesome person is a complete understatement. You are truly one of a kind. What you wrote made me teary-eyed. What an amazing person you are.
    I'm thinking of you sweet Vicky, and sending many hugs!

  14. Oh Vicky!!!! This is pure poetry at it's best. You have learned grace through all of this, learned to see it, to hear it, to grasp and hold it, and to give it! I felt your heart, because mine has been there, looked into those eyes, listened to the fearful questions, heard to endless stories, and did the tossing and turning with the sweats and chills! Yet, all is grace -- grace given, and grace received. This meant so much to me today. It not only ministered to me, but in my prayers for you, I've prayed that you would learn His grace deeply, and you have! Bless you, girl!!!!

  15. YOU are grace Vicky, and the tears rolling down my cheeks would stop if I could only do something for you. A note to let you know how inspired you make me. Your courage and strength are the light I keep looking towards when it's a bit dark. Hugs and healing energy are sent your way, I keep praying...xo

  16. Your words are such a beautiful work of art. Your heart is a beautiful show of grace! You amaze me, you inspire me, and you encourage me!

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  18. This is so beautiful, the stories of the players in this thing called life, the feelings wrapped up with the denial. The truth telling and the holding back.
    wow... I am praying for you.

  19. Wow just wow Vicki. You are GRACE personified you know that? You really touch people. And here am I all the way in Australia being affected and inspired by you. Your writing just goes from strength to strength. You are in my prayers and you are teaching us all how to deal with adversity. We will and do all face it in one way or another but some of us do a much better job at dealing with it. I know it has got to be hard and scary and frustrating and painful, but please know that the love surrounding you and your faith will caryy you through. Please keep writing because when this hard bit is over you are going to have your name on a book cover. I have never been so sure of anything in my life. This is just the start Vicki.

  20. From my heart, " There is a time to be born & a time to die..." every one of us faces death sooner or later! I love the peace you have Vicki but I know that is NOT you alone, that is purely Jesus. He truly lives in us when we believe and He says we will NEVER die! I am praying for more grace for you Vicki & also for myself when I face that day, to have an overwhelming LONGING to see His beautiful face because that is the whole point of our precious faith.I am even praying today for His grace to face life's trials, big & small, & to fully long for all of God's precious eternal promises. I thank God for you, you are precious! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  21. My throat is clogged with tears as I type. But I wanted to say that another h-less Sara is praying for you, has been praying for you, and just knows that Gitz has to be looking from her spot on Jesus' lap with joy at how you are walking this journey.

    I'd like to send you something to pass on to people you meet like that man who gave his car away. It's a bit of music written by my former family doctor, Steve Mitchinson (who writes a lot of songs with Brian Doerksen - the guy who wrote Come Now Is The Time To Worship). I could send a couple of cd's for you to keep in your purse to pass on to whomever seemed like the right person, or even to Dr. Panwalker to pass on to the patient he would know would need it. The music is to me like a warm blanket for those walking that kind of journey, and for those of us who had walked through a journey of saying goodbye to someone.

    I'll be praying for you this week. I hope that Jesus surrounds you with tangible bits of His love, that He gives you peace, and that He builds you up in renewed strength and in courage.

  22. p.s. I forgot to ask if you'd please email me with an address where I can send those cds if you think you'd like to pass them on.

  23. This is really beautifully expressed, and I'm a little ashamed to admit that much earlier on I was the one who shrunk away from the man in the parking lot who stopped me with my bald head to tell me all about how he was dying (although I was trying to shield Rory from it). I need to listen more. And the woman with the newborn breaks my heart. I ran across someone this week who has a 5 month old. Her cancer was discovered during her c-section. It's all so hard to take in sometimes.

  24. Beautiful compassionate writing, Vicky.

  25. Vicky, I wanted to read this last night and got distracted, fell asleep thinking, "I want to read Vicky's post." So here I am now, touched as always by your beautiful expressions of life, both the joys and sorrows. You've given us all a glimpse into the inner sanctuary of the place where you dwell at times now, and a flavor for who sits with you. Dear friend, as others have said, you have an abundance of grace, and sharing it with us is pure gift. XXOO, Roxane

  26. Vicky...I do hope that a book is in the works/making. I mean that with all my heart.
    Your words bend my heart (close to breaking it, sometimes...and writing like that is certainly a gift.)
    You know that you are loved by your blogging friend from South Georgia (Jawja)... :)) That would be me!
    Love you, my friend,

  27. vicky...thank you for sharing this part of your life with wrote it all the point where i could visualize the other people waiting with you.....

    and the ponytail story below is sooooo great. those are two very special girls !!


  28. I am almost speechless at your GRACE! YOU are grace personified. And a true inspiration. God bless you, Vicky. XO, Pinky

  29. So touching...I barely have words.

    Love and hugs, Kelly


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