Friday, December 16, 2011

Home Base

I stare at my list, reading each item over and over silently in my head:  acceptance, surrender, trust.

I'm not feeling it.

The past two days have been miserable; I'm edgy, angry, resentful.  I can't get out of my own way.   My back hurts again - a lot. When Finn was sick this past weekend I carried him upstairs into bed; maybe that did it. I don't know; all I know is that every movement hurts. 

It feels like the last straw. I don't want to have cancer. I don't want to have an injured back. I just want my life back.

The kids are running all over the place, playing some kind game that is a combination of hide-and-seek and tag.  Their squeals of delight grate on my already frayed nerves.

I just want my life back, I think again, miserably.  I want my only worry to be last minute Christmas shopping.

Finn slips on the hardwood floor and goes down hard. I don't go to him. I just can't. I hear Greta soothing him - you're okay, buddy. Just rest for a minute and then let's play again.

I am frustrated with myself, because I know I'm making myself miserable. I realize that I can choose how I feel, how I react to my situation, but I'm tired of the high road. I'm tired of brave and strong.

Taking a deep breath, I read my list again.  Acceptance, Surrender, Trust.  I say it over and over again, hoping the repetition will drum them into my stubborn head.

The kids resume their game, and I reluctantly pull myself up out of my chair.  There are lunches to pack, breakfast dishes to wash and put away.

As I scrub bowls coated with dried up oatmeal, I think of the days to come.  I haven't even started treatment, and already I feel weary right down to my bones.

Greta bursts from behind a closet door, runs up to me and wraps her arms around my waist.  "Home base!" she yells.  "Momma's home base!"

Momma's home base, I think, wincing. But for how long? Until the radiation and chemo take their toll and I can hardly get out of bed? And what if the treatments don't work? Who is going to be their home base then?

Tears spring to my eyes; thankfully Greta runs off and doesn't notice. I creep upstairs, clutching my list, and flop face down on my bed, my back yelping in protest.

I cry, hard, for a few minutes. I haven't cried much since the diagnosis, and the emotional purge feels good.  The kids are still running around downstairs, laughing, and I find myself smiling, just a little.

I roll off the bed and onto my knees.  Please, God, I pray, help me find peace of mind. Help me get out of my own way. Help me have gratitude. Help me surrender. 

Faith.  The words pops into my head, unbidden. Have a little faith.

Leaping up, I grab a pencil of my bedside table and scrawl another word onto my list:  Faith.

I wipe the tears off my cheeks, and make my way back downstairs.  Finn pinwheels around a corner, with Greta hot on his heels. 

He grabs my hand, smiling triumphantly. "SAFE!"  he yells.  "I have Momma, and I'm SAFE!"


  1. Your writing always gives me goosebumps. Do your see your gift? God is using you.

  2. Ellie....this is how I have felt this entire week and I am not even dealing with what you have in the cancer diagnosis on top of everything. I've had to search hard for gratitude, mental gymnastics to get through the days. At one point I sat down and wrote the Serenity Prayer over and over and over again - wrote it one time out of anger, many times over out of resentment, and must have written it out on sheets of printer scrap paper 20 times feeling NOTHING except the pen moving on the paper. This is the high road to take in life but sometimes it is so dog-tired repetitive and boring I, as you would say, want to peel off my skin. By the way, you don't get to consume an extra thousand calories at night because you are trying to stop your evening mind numbing habit of wine and whine. I had nothing to drink last night and woke up feeling hung over, dragged out and with a headache anyway.

    One day a a time. And we have to get outside of our heads when we go through these periods and not over think it.

    Hugs and love to you babe. Sometimes you just have these crappy feelings and slog through them.

  3. Wow. What anonymous said. I just wish it wasn't such an incredibly difficult path. I love you Ellie.

  4. I don't have the words to express what I want to say but I do KNOW that God is with you, there to take all your anger/frustration/sadness.

    And I KNOW that for today you are there, you ARE home base.

  5. Ellie, it's almost as if you're speaking straight to me today. Hugs to you.

  6. We are thinking of you! *hugs*

    You are a brave, strong woman. Never forget that.

  7. Ellie, this post brought me to tears. You really do have a gift. You are also helping to keep me sober, so you're a safe home base for me too. Thank you.

  8. Oh my heart, Ellie. I have chills. This is beautiful, *You* are beautiful. Much love to you.

  9. Just remember you don't HAVE to feel any certain way. Sometimes the icky feelings are going to bubble on up and they are VALID too.

    Also, you will always be home base to them. Even if chemo takes you down for a while, you are the home base of their hearts.

    I too love your writing and always feel something shift and learn something new when I read here.

    Wishing you strength and comfort and peace and more faith and for a Christmas filled with nothing but last minute shopping worries next year.

  10. Ellie: It is good for you to finally show some cracks especially after all of the things that you have been listening to and the pending start of the treatments. It shows you are human just like the rest of us. Now that it is over just do what you did when you stopped drinking; Capture one minute; one hour and then one day and hopefully you can level out those feelings. Gosh the stress I have felt for you has almost made me what to have a glass of wine as all of our good efforts seem to end up twisted.

  11. Ditto. I am not a big believer in God using people on Earth (why take the credit away from those who kick butt and do such good deeds?) but I think this may be a case in which my premise fails.

  12. This brought me to tears have a true gift for writing. Hugs!

  13. Oh Ellie. I did cry at the end of this. You must allow yourself to cry and get mad and all of that. That is all normal and not a lack of anything on your list. Hoping you have a peaceful weekend.

  14. A few years ago I came across the notion that surrender is meaningless if I don't follow through with actions based on faith. So I feel really good for you that faith now appears on your list!

    But what ACTION does that suggest? Surely it is something to do with taking good, good care of Ellie. Beg off on some of the crazy demands of the season. See a chiropractor or get a massage, if that sounds good. Rest. That may be all that faith is asking you to do. Just rest.

    It is OK for your kids to learn that their Rock needs rest. When they are older you will want nothing more for them than the good sense to take good, good care of themselves. This is an opportunity to show them how to do that. OK. It is not an opportunity that you want right now. It is another friggin' "black bow" gift. But go ahead and open it. It's yours.

    Sending healing vibes for your back across the miles. )))))))))))))))))))))))))

  15. loving and hugging you Ellie! Let US be your home base.


  16. I love you and I am thinking of you!!! I have been keeping up, but I can't comment, your my home base!!

    Your so strong!!

  17. Tear ducts working overtime over here. :*) I think it's good to let yourself feel all that shit, good and bad. It's gotta come out one way or another, even sideways.

    God has got you. He's going to provide everything you need. He already is. When the treatment begins, he'll send people to care for you. I wish, for my own selfish benefit, I could be one of them. But I will care for you from here.

    I love what Becky said: Let US be your home base.

    That's perfect. You are safe.

    Let's just go moment by moment by moment together. xoxo

  18. In 1993, when you were very very young - my dad was having memory problems. Mom was concerned he might have Alzheimer's. Dad had always been my "home base" - the rock in all the craziness of what was my growing-up years.

    Anyway, she took him to the doctor. After some basic orientation tests (time, place, etc.) they sent him for an immediate CT scan. Within a very short time the results came in. He had widespread brain cancer - inoperable, terminal. Our whole family was plunged into turmoil. From the time of his diagnosis to his death was seven weeks. God held us close in the palm of His hand throughout this process and afterward. We saw so many miracles happen inside of people. It was amazing. Hard, but amazing.

    Now, even 18 years later - Dad is still "home base." Long after he's gone ... I can feel his strength, his laughter, his love.

    You are WAY more fortunate than he was. Your cancer was caught early. You have a fighting chance. A GOOD chance. You will get through this, and your children will be able to come and tag you for a long time to come. But even if the unthinkable happens - they will still have you. Inside, where it counts, where their safe place is. It will grow and blossom like a perennial flower in their hearts. And in ours.

    Somehow I just know you are going to be okay. Something deep inside of my spirit tells me that you have only begun to live, to really live to the fullest - in a life of moment-by-moment acceptance, surrender, trust ... and faith. Thank you for sharing that journey with us.

  19. Ellie, God has a plan for you! First Redbook, and that alone was amazing, and now your journey with such another difficult issue.

  20. I stumbled upon your blog through another. Just want to let you know you have another person out in cyperspace saying a prayer for you.

  21. Ellie -- I'm thinking about you each day and sending love and comfort your way. I wouldn't have a clue how to stop your head from thinking about what is ahead of you. It's not fair. It's a lot. It's too much. And I have no doubt that you will be well and be even more magnificent as a mom, a wife, a friend, and a writer as a result of this part of your journey. You are never alone and you are so loved. Joanne

  22. I can see a 365 day prayer book in you. You make your life come to life in your post. I'm seeing you grow, becoming more( cant find the words). Thank you for sharing this part and all parts of your life with us. You teach me every time you write. My prayers start by watching the sun come up over downtown Tokyo, so know that at the most quite and beautiful time of my day PRAYERS and HUGS going out to you.

  23. I have had chills running down my arms for several minutes now, after reading your post. FAITH. you have what we irish call the "gift of gab". Do not stop writing. Even when you are feeling really crummy. keep writing. and keep the faith. thanks for sharing your most authentic self with us.

  24. And you are safe, too, no matter how it feels that you are not - and I know it does.

    Trust and faith and let yourself fall, Ellie, knowing that you have an endless net beneath you.

    This is the scary part, the crazy making part - the part that will be over soon. It's better once you start, in the oddest way, because there is no more anticipation and only getting through each moment, each thing.

    You will still be home base, wherever you are. For always.

    Sending huge amounts of love and peace and admiration to you...

  25. Ellie, I keep you in my prayers always. Thank you for continuing to share this new journey with us.
    Lee Ann

  26. Awesome post and humbling. I am really touched. Christie is right. You are safe. Always were, are and will be.

  27. Oh Ellie,

    I don't have the words. I wish I did. I wish I had the words that could make you feel, in the same way that your words dive straight into my emotions. I wish I could wrap my words round you like home base. To make it all alright for you.

    You are coming through this day by day, minute by minute. You have so many tools and abilities to help you with this; and if you don't *feel* strong at any particular moment, then that is just fine. Step by step. Surrender is about *not* being the strong one, isn't it?

    I emailed you. Completely randomly, but I wanted you to know someone this side of the world was thinking of you and praying for you.

  28. You don't know me, but I want you to know that despite the fact that I don't typically pray, I am praying for you as you go through this journey. I am certain there are thousands of others like me, anonymous people that don't know you, but are sending you prayer after prayer. I hope that as you start your treatment, you will feel these waves of love and caring and prayer wash over you, over and over, and that it will bring you some slight sense of comfort.