The dreaded “c” word

Two months before our 20th anniversary, we learned that Brian had a testicular tumor and that he needed to undergo a radical orchiectomy. Two days later, I spent the day in the surgery waiting area once again reminded of how quickly life can twist and turn, leap and dive, but this time I wasn’t the one on the table. Seven days after that, testicular cancer was confirmed and we drove home to process our next steps with our four girls.

“If you have to get cancer, it’s the best type to get.” We chuckled together on the ride home. What an odd thing to say, we both thought. Despite our capacity to laugh at the irony and awkward social interaction with Brian’s physician, and despite learning all about the phenomenal cure rate of this particular type of cancer, the air between us and within us during that car ride home still felt thick with uncertainty and undeniable heartache. Here we were, facing the reality of mortality again. Death was in our midst. One could argue that death is always in our midst. It’s one of the most reliable aspects of being human – we are all inching closer to death with every breath we take. But there are times in life when death presses through our psychological defenses and sometimes taunts us, or nudges us, or simply reminds us that it’s here with us, whether we want it to be or not.

Photo by: Talitha Bullock Photography

Death was there with us in the car that day. And more than anything, it left us both feeling tired and asking all the hard yet appropriate existential questions. What is it all for and how do we know and does it matter? We were anticipating heading out of town for a long weekend the next day and thought we might save those easy conversation starting questions for a later time. At that moment, we simply needed to get home, share what we knew with the girls, pack up and get the heck out of town.

Only when we pulled into our garage, at least two blond-haired and bright-eyed girls threw open the door and squealed with pure delight, “WE HAVE PUPPIES!” Brian and I made our way to the backyard and discovered that four fluffy and ridiculously cute pups had dug under two sets of fences and crawled their way right into all of our tender hearts. We all soaked up the puppy therapy for a couple of hours as we sorted out and located the owners and reluctantly returned them to their concerned mama pooch but not without first inquiring if any of them were still looking for forever homes. And as luck (or something more perhaps) would have it, there were several puppies in need of a home. I can’t make this stuff up. On the very day we were conversing with death again, life literally dug it’s way back to us, as one friend text us that afternoon. And since there is only so much life (and dog poo) one family can handle, we made room for two additions. Meet Flynnigan Rider and Chandler Bing.

The likelihood of this particular type of cancer leading to actual death is thankfully minuscule. All the more reason for us to learn how to dance better with death now. The steps may be easier to learn when we’re not traumatized by the terror of it all. To deny that death is with us, within us and all around us is to deny one of our greatest teachers. On the other hand, to be so consumed by the presence (or fear) of death that we can no longer see the surge of life pumping through us and digging its way toward us is where utter despair reigns supreme. These pups are the daily reminder to our family of a life energy and force as we continue to navigate the reality of having bodies that are vulnerable to illness, bodies that will one day wear out entirely. But until that day – puppy therapy – it’s fur real folks. Yep. I just did that.

Continue Reading

The Big Shift

I began wondering about this particular year of our life when I was still pregnant with our youngest daughter. Roughly six years ago, a few casual calculations were made during the dinner hour that left me wondering if this would be the exact year that I’d experience a midlife crisis. We determined then that this […]

Continue Reading

The weightiness of endings

It’s been a season of endings. In December, I witnessed the sacred and horrifying final hours of my grandmother’s life on earth in her bedroom alongside my mother and my sister. In April, our rambunctious and loving 6.5 year old chocolate lab awoke one morning with a ruptured spleen from an undetected mass leaving us […]

Continue Reading

Oh, I’m getting older too

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I’m getting older, too”   Feeling this song by Fleetwood Mac in a whole new way these days. Today, I created a new playlist to allow space to feel all the feels […]

Continue Reading

Trust Falls

“There is no way she will be able to go.” Those were the words we kept tossing back and forth at each other as we did our best to assess the situation and plan accordingly. Decisions needed to be made, financially and otherwise, as to whether or not Bailey would participate in an upcoming out-of-state college […]

Continue Reading

Rules to live by?

For both professional and personal reasons, as of late I’ve been swimming through literature, podcasts, film and research all related to the concept of resilience. So as often happens, when my brain is steeping in thematically rich waters, I can no longer avoid catching a glimpse whatever the theme might be every.where.I.freaking.look. I see it in […]

Continue Reading

Young Love

I just love your arms, Mama She stares at me unabashedly, unflinchingly, unceremoniously. They hold me, they help me, they cover me, they snuggle me. I hold her gaze this time, letting her young daughter love drench this parched and weary mama heart. Someday the ambivalence will come between us too, my baby girl. But […]

Continue Reading

Mantras

“Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to to find other people or to […]

Continue Reading