Breaking Apart

Breaking Apart

It seems like joy continues to race ahead of me, taunting me with its presence in the lives of others. Finishing my cancer treatment was supposed to be a happy time, one of celebrations and new beginnings.

And yet…now a divorce.

The pain of this breaking–both physical and emotional pain–is indescribable. Having prayed and pleaded and discussed and loved, I only have emptiness. The man who once shared my bed and my life is leaving, looking forward to a life without those responsibilities.

I don’t know if I can love again. Perhaps I have missed that chance at happiness, that chance at having a forever partner.

Looking around at what was our home, I remember all of those dreams that we had and wonder what lies ahead. I now face what remains of my middle age alone. The prospect of that loneliness stretching on forever saddens me.

Although some apparently have divorce parties nowadays, I see nothing to celebrate. Marriage is a lifelong commitment–a covenant–and the breaking of our vows will only lead to heartbreak.

It is overwhelming. Somehow, though, I must move forward.

Cancer and Family

cancer-and-familyBoth love and cancer have bound our family.

Cancer has often seemed like an unwanted and violent relative who continues to show up for dinner. Demanding everything and leaving nothing, he shakes our lives until very little remains.

As the dust settles from his appearance, we hug each other closer and breathe a sigh of relief, thinking this will be the final time. But no. We bury family members, struggle through holidays, and continue on. And still he returns.

I hear those who are newly diagnosed with cancer whisper sadly, “But I don’t have any family history! I never thought I’d have cancer.” Murmuring, “I’m so sorry,” I silently wonder if it is better to be thrown headlong into a cancer diagnosis or to have a family history full of cancer.

Is it better to have an unfamiliar enemy? Or to know intimately this ghastly disease?

When medical professionals ask about the history of cancer in my family, it usually takes about 5-10 minutes to discuss it fully. They take notes furiously and then look at me with glazed eyes. Their expressions seem to be a mix of sadness and disbelief.

Occasionally I’ll elicit some surprise, even from those who have experience with this sort of thing. When I spoke with the genetics counselor, she questioned me further about those family members with skin cancer. “When were they first diagnosed?” she asked. I gave her a guess as to dates but then explained that this cancer was ongoing. “You mean there has been more than one time?” she asked, shocked.

Yes, cancer keeps knocking at our door. Only two of us left now.

But then there are those who ask about my family history, specifically a history of breast cancer. Taking my vitals, a nurse in the hospital during my most recent visit asked me if any of my family members had had breast cancer. “My mother. She died in 1999,” I responded. The nurse nodded and then left my room.

Lying there in the darkness, I could guess as to why she had asked me that question. She wondered why someone my age had already had breast cancer twice. As I have a family history–plus the PTEN mutation–it’s explainable. And she could leave my room feeling a bit better about her own risk for cancer.

Our throw of the genetic dice resulted in snake eyes.

We’ve grown stronger, though, and appreciate each other a bit more after all of this. Those of us that remain are scarred and a bit hobbled, but we know well the fragility of life and that cancer can return at any moment. So we talk more, sharing stories from our lives and simple pleasures like reading and movies and good food.

And we do our best to kick that unwanted relative, cancer, to the curb for good.

Continuing Stories from a Cat Household

Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval
Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval

I suppose we should have expected this. Word has apparently gotten around the neighborhood among the local cats that our house is a safe haven. With the cushy outdoor house, ready food and water, and loving people, what cat could resist? And indeed they have taken us up on our generosity, livening up our lives in the process.

It all started with the cat we call Toby. He had been hunting in our garden over the summer. Over the course of a few weeks, my husband managed to befriend him. At that time, we put out food and water each day for Toby, and he showed his gratitude with tail shakes and affection.

Little did we know at the time, though, that he would spread the word. Soon he arrived at our home one morning with a friend, Sally, She immediately took to us, claiming us as her home and family. She became a permanent fixture at our household; she would be waiting for us outside at every time of the day. Purring and pushing against our legs, she managed to find her way into our hearts, and she received daily love and food in return.

Now, those two have evidently spread the word among the neighborhood cats, and so we have another kiddo who comes daily. An orange and white kitty that we call Patches. We first saw him one morning; he was cold and bedraggled, very skinny with poor fur. With regular food, he has become quite the looker, more healthy with sleek fur. And he has even trusted my husband enough to pet him occasionally. He comes around regularly for food, water, and just some time alone in a safe place.

Yes, and we have had other cats come visit our home in the past week. Perhaps needless to say, we no longer get the opportunity to bird watch with all of the cats around. But we can have the good feeling of taking care of cats who are hungry and overlooked. Too, they give us a lot as well. Who would turn down head boops from thankful kitties?

If you want some inspiration for your own insulated cat home, then take a gander at my article:

Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

Moving on . . . to Gratitude

Original Photo by tangle_eye on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by tangle_eye on Morguefile.com

Sometimes, you just gotta move on…

either from friends or a situation. This time is just one of those times for me. The situation had become unhealthy and simply wasn’t worth the effort. After months of stress and concern, it was time to leave.

The situation and the people involved don’t deserve the effort of further discussion, and so I’ll move on to gratitude. Yes, as I’ve gotten older, I realize more and more just how important gratitude really is. All too often, I have not truly appreciated my blessings until they were gone. I have been blessed with so many positive people and situations, and I will admit that at the time I was too caught up in my own preoccupations and problems to really stop and understand just how much of a blessing they were in my life.

Well, no more. I’m moving on…leaving a bad situation and moving on to gratitude. Now, I’ll admit that my choice leaves me and my family in a bit of a precarious situation, but we have each other. And I feel a stress has been relieved from my life.

So today I woke up and thanked God for this day. I snuggled with my honey and realized just how blessed I am to have him in my life. I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but it’s got to be better than the past few months.

And that’s something to look forward to.

Wet Dog: By Pets Add Life

In case you haven’t yet discovered these videos, they are wonderful. Humorous and yet tasteful, they remind everyone–whether animal lover or not–that pets add so much to our lives and deserve their own companions. anakinlambie

So please, check out their videos, have some fun this Saturday, and support your local rescue organizations and shelters.

Anakin certainly knows what it’s like to be a stray, along with finally finding a forever home. And he also knows what it’s like to have a bath. Anakin agrees: baths are awful!