Wednesday, June 1, 2016

embrace the grace...

I'm not really sure when it started.  I get so dang tired of carrying cancer around with me that I don't pay a lot of attention to it.  But one day I stepped outside and whoa as I stopped on the top step, everything around me kept moving.  I felt like I needed to grab the pillar just to steady myself.

Within minutes, I was fine again, and off I went. It didn't happen again until I was in the car with Nolan.  Around a corner we sailed and my head?  Just kept on sailing as my stomach dropped and my heart started to pound- this must be what vertigo feels like?  What the heck?

Those initially fleeting moments start to add up after awhile.  And then... one day I toppled right over.  Oh I was probably cleaning up after the dog, bending, leaning, stretching, and then suddenly, flat on my bottom on the ground. It took a couple of tries to get myself upright again, I was so off kilter.  Uff da...  

Yet, I'm feeling so much better, in so many ways. My words flow more freely, with some chemo fog lifting.  I have more stamina for sustained periods, as brief as they may be.  I can dry a load of clothes and bring them upstairs in a basket.  However folding them after that... yeah... still a stretch.  Maybe the next day?

So as I collect the sum of all the parts,  I find myself confiding my dizzy and somewhat wobbly nature to Annie, the PA. She absorbed what I was saying and concluded with ordering a scan.  I'll be having a brain MRI later this week.  She also conveys to me that my tumor marker, has started to rise.  Sigh...

Crosby and I "get" each other on a whole new level these days too.  His seizures come in clusters now.  Sometimes within hours of each other.  Sometimes days in between. But as traumatic and hard as they are to witness, and for him to go through, we stick with each other, enjoying our better moments-together.  Rick and I are in the process of getting a consult for Crosby with a Neurologist veterinarian, in the cities. We need guidance in how to truly care for our dog, ensuring quality in his life. 

These times, when it seems we can't add anymore?  Grace rises up to meet us, and multiplies the abundant gifts in our ordinary days. We just need eyes to see, as we number our gifts that literally lie at our fingertips. 

  Annie concludes our appointment, then shares photos with me of her new golden retriever puppy- Grace.  And there it is again- just when I need it.  We talked about hockey, and dogs, and life- the good stuff... with cancer falling to the side again, like chaff from the threshing floor. 

So I'm letting go of all of these things... continually letting go.  And I'll embrace the grace, with eyes that see fresh every time I blink and focus anew.

Crosby loves his time outside in the shade.

Colton simply wanted to golf with his buddies, on his birthday.  That is one happy kid. 

I could do a whole post about the amazing meal sign-up we're just finishing.  Holy cannoli!  We've been filled with comfort foods, deliveries from our favorite restaurants, and surprise meals from people we've never met before.  We were nourished, both physically, and mentally, too.

This one just leap-frogged into adulthood!  No, he didn't actually get to road trip to Pittsburgh, but yes he can always dream a big dream, can't he?  Go Pens!! 

The Star Tribune ran a really great story today about Matt Cullen. It truly exemplifies who both Matt, and his wife Bridget have become and how they truly live the words they say... definitely worth the read! 

Rick and I felt lucky to surprise the boys with tickets to a Garth Brooks concert.  They only had one question... who is Garth Brooks? And who goes to Garth Brooks?  

So as we were walking up to the Fargo Dome doorway, guess who Nolan saw just off to our side?  A man trying to shield his face.  He was Carson Wentz, the newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles NFL quarterback from North Dakota State University.  Suddenly- Garth Brooks was very cool.

The boys outwardly appeared to enjoy themselves.  My fitbit was registering steps like crazy.  Then this... Garth sings this and with teary eyes, I video a small portion of it. 

Looking back on the memory of
the dance we shared 'neath the stars above;
For a moment all the world was right.
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
the way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance;
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance...

The concert ends and its a school night so we head home to get the boys to bed.  Rick and I wonder aloud, could we find 2 cheap tickets and go again over the weekend?  And that's when we hear what the boys really think of the concert- a chorus of "Hey me too, I want to go!" rings out and we know we've passed along our love of Garth Brooks to our kids.  

These moments are fleeting- but so worthy of collecting- they truly add up to what matters-like Buddha says in the end its these 3 things...

"... How much you loved, how gently you lived, how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you."  



  1. Great moments with your honey and littles Vicky! Prayers for you to through the scan and hugs always!

  2. Don't love the vertigo, Vicky, but seriously loved this post for so many reasons. First, I barely recognize Nolan. He DID leapfrog into adulthood! Who IS that bearded stranger??! VERY man-like. WOW. And Nolan lookin' all professional in his golfing duds. These boys. I'll never get over how fast kids change. And that you passed on your love of Garth? Well, that's some good passin' on and that song has long been one of my very favorites of his. I have a picture of him that he signed years and YEARS ago when he came through Fresno and was just barely starting out. I keep it with my promo shots of when I was in the band I was with the longest (years ago), Texas Gold. Both make me smile (but mostly crack up at my HAIR!)

    And bless little Crosby's heart. I'm so glad he has you to share his journey with and I will be praying you get some good answers for him at the neurologist. We just had to help the new owner's (our friends) of Mom's dog that they were gracious enough to take. A sudden eye infection/inflammation took her vision and her eyes were so painful that the vet had to remove them. My heart was so broken for her and for them but I saw her new mama last night who said she is adjusting. We had some tears together but I will get to see Bessie tomorrow. I hope I'm as strong when I see her as she has been facing the loss of her vision. Our dogs. These beloved angels who grace our lives. We have to walk with them, too, in their hours of great need and it is our privilege to so.

    And back to the can have so many causes but when I experienced it in spades about four years ago the ENT told me to try Dramamine - non-drowsy formula (meclazine? or dimenhydrinate?) to ease symptoms and it REALLY helped. Don't know why it came or passed - they never knew, either - but I still keep that drug on hand for occasional use.

    Love you, sister friend, and I will pray for good results from this scan and what to do about the markers increase as well as a cessation of that vertigo which can be rotten. Big hugs. I have dear friends near you right now at St. Olaf's watching their son graduate and getting ready to do his graduate studies at UOM. Maybe, one of these days, I will get there, too. Oh don't I wish....

  3. You know Vicky, I went through a couple of very very difficult times in my life and I couldn't handle when folks would say "I could never handle that." As if we have a choice. So I am not going to say that to you, but I am going to say that I could never handle your life the way you are handling it. I am so so glad that you have a loving family and such great friends to help you and your family through this. I look forward to your posts and get a lot out of them. Hugs.

  4. oh and best of luck with the scan. Your sons and dog are all so cute!!!

  5. Oh honey,
    My heart just stopped when I read Buddha's wisdom and you wrote..."I'm not really sure when it started." Remember that truck you wrote about so long ago, the one headed to the lake that veered off just in time? You invited us to get on that old truck with be part of the journey of your pain and your dance. I told you then, and I want you to know now my dear soul sis, that I'm on the truck with you...always. No matter what.

    I'm on the truck when you feel faint and fall over, and when your stamina is getting a bit better and the chemo fog lifts a bit. I'm on the truck when Nolan looks like a young man grinning, holding up a sign marking the passage of time...he has his driver's license. I'm on the truck to celebrate Colton's grin and simple birthday wish to play golf with his friends. I'm on the truck to celebrate every meal that is made for you and every friend who holds you close. I'm on the truck as you love on dear Crosby. I'm on the truck when you have NED and when cancer markers go up. I sigh along with you, my dear soul sis.

    Buddha was so right. Your are living your legacy of how much you have loved, how gently you have lived and how gracefully you let go of those things not meant for you.
    And the dance? Yours is exquisite, my friend. You could have missed the pain, but would also have missed all the grace and blessings and deep, deep love that has come along with it. You are cherished, my friend. Absolutely cherished and loved and prayed for by all of us who adore you so. I will be praying nonstop about the Brain MRI this week.

    I love you Vicky Held Westra, to the moon and back again. Always!

  6. I love Garth too... such poignant words, one of my favorite songs. Sending prayer for a good scan - love to you and yours -

  7. 1 Corinthians 12:9: "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

    Praying for you especially hard this week as you go for your scans. Chara and Grace send their love to you and Crosby, too. 🐾

  8. Sending you ❤️ And 🙏🏼

  9. As always, you inspire so many. To keep on keeping on. And to see the many blessings right under our noses. Prayers for you and your family!!

  10. Hello Vicky my friend! It is such a treat to be welcomed into these precious times in your life! The boys are so big! One of my favorite Garth Brooks songs ever! I'm sending you lots of love and joy. Katherine

  11. Holding good thoughts on the scan and prayers always. Best wishes to Crosby, too.

    The Dance holds special memories and tears for me, but I do love it.

  12. God's grace is truly so amazing. No way to sum it up in words.

    I love reading about your concert! What a great night!

    I have Vertigo (periodically - I have Benign P Positional Vertigo; it has to do with tiny crystals in the inner ear, too long to explain here) so I have an idea of how your dizziness feels. Here's hoping and praying that yours is gone soon)

    BTW, Annie sounds lovely.

    Love and prayers from the good ol' USA! Here for some family visiting xxx

  13. Vicky, always my love and prayers!

  14. Holy goosebumps -- Just like I always get when I read your writing--your heart.

    With so much love to you and yours~~~

  15. Your sons are incredibly handsome. What joy our children bring to our any age. You have raised them well.
    I pray for your vertigo to be gone, and I pray for your fur baby as well.
    I hug you, and I pray that God's Grace continues to hold and sustain you.
    I love you.

  16. You are the epitome of grace. I stop by to read your words because they give me comfort. How about that? I have my health and so much more in my life, but somehow you offer so much to me and I'm sure so many others. Sending good thoughts on the scan.

  17. Hi Sweet friend,
    You have been in my thoughts and prayers today knowing that your scan is this week.
    I am asking God to give you His peace, and ease your heart and mind.
    The "Let Go! and "Let Him!" take it all. His shoulders are big enough!
    Love you to the moon and back, always!

  18. My heart drops when I miss one of your posts, Vicky. I have been missing you and finally, as a pause comes, you are there in my mind and I have to come over and see if you've posted without me knowing. How did I miss it, and it's been 8 days now. Ugh. Well, here I am and happy to catch up and to see the header photo of one of our favorite places. ahhhhhhh........ Thank you SO MUCH for showing up at our grad party. Karla will be forever grateful she got to meet you, since she has come to admire you so much through your writing journey. What a pleasure it was for me to connect you with a dear friend from my past. Silver and gold... XOXO


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