Hold the Cosmic Explanations

( It’s been a rough couple of months…)

Heather out of the ICU

Heather collapsed face first on the gravel.  Her purple-tinged hair spread out like the wind blew it wild, The tattoo of a Volkswagen bus over a lotus on her left arm faced the sky.  Jerald, her husband heard her fall as she hit the side of the Volkswagen bus where they sleep while they build their house on the Big Island of Hawaii.  He rushed her to the local hospital where they drained a quart of fluid from her heart before flying her to the hospital intensive care unit in Honolulu. If he had not heard her fall she would have died on the spot.

After two weeks in the ICU on high flow oxygen, a lung biopsy, and MRIs came the diagnosis, stage 4 cancer of the heart and lungs. They found after a barrage of tests, a tumor in her heart, cancerous polyps throughout her lungs, and cancerous lesions in her brain, and on her spine.  Previously Heather had been complaining of difficulty breathing and was on her second course of antibiotics before collapsing. Her doctor wrongly assumed it was just severe bronchitis.  With aggressive chemotherapy, oxygen support, and gamma knife radiation her outcome is uncertain- a few months or a year or two? There are no answers as this type of cancer is extremely rare, especially in a 38-year-old woman. This is my husband’s daughter- my stepdaughter.  He was sitting 6 hours a day by her bedside in her hospital room.

Heather with her dad
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On Facing Mortality

Heather with her husband Jerald

This morning on the way to the Portland airport my husband turned to me and said “I can’t do this.”  He was about ready to catch a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii to be with his daughter that was just been diagnosed with stage 4 heart and lung cancer, a very rare occurrence.  Heather, a non-smoker, at age 38 was in the prime of her life.  She and her husband were building their dream on property in the highlands of the Big Island when she collapsed after dealing with what her doctor thought was a severe case of bronchitis.  Her husband rushed her to the hospital. Now, she cannot leave the hospital in Honolulu as she needs oxygen to survive.

Heather welding with her dad.

I replied to him- “yes you can.  “Be a bulldog, don’t run away.  Go head-on.”

“This isn’t about what you can deal with, it’s about supporting her to get through this whatever the outcome with your full love and support.  She chose chemotherapy.  Be fully there for her.”

I’ve had some experience with this.  My darling newborn son, Gareth, contracted a life-threatening infection at 10 days old.  I kept hoping to wake up from that nightmare.  I didn’t.  My beautiful baby was full of tubes.  His little body was all swollen, hair shaved off one side of his head.  Worse, we couldn’t hold him.

We were told such things as:

  1. If he makes it, he will be brain damaged or live in a hospital for the rest of his life
  2. Kids don’t live through this
  3. You will need a LARGE miracle

I fully embraced option 3.  They allowed me to live at the hospital while he was in the NICU.  My husband at the time had a hard time dealing with the situation at all.  Meanwhile, I pumped breast milk at 3-hour intervals round the clock so he could have my breast milk when he once again could eat.  I rose in the middle of the night to sing and talk to him.  I prayed.

Ultimately my actions saved me.  Did they help save him?  Well, Gareth just celebrated his 35th birthday and he is as awesome as ever! (FYI, his name in Gaelic means strength).

We want to run from these situations since it is not only painful to see the ones we love suffer, we are frightened of our own mortality.

Gareth, my one and only precious son!
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The Art of Finding Solace

In the last two weeks, I’ve buried three wild birds- a robin, a pine siskin, and a hummingbird- such a tiny, little body.  The last two were from my cat which makes it even worse.

Two dear friends were also lain to rest from this life.  One passed away unexpectedly in his sleep.  The other reached the end of an eight-year struggle with ovarian cancer.

The events in Ukraine disturb me daily.  The weather has been unusually cold and wet on top of such sorrow.

Continue reading “The Art of Finding Solace”