Okay, so a gigantic pile of moose poop in my front yard isn’t the most important thing you may want to know about our life recently, but it sure did bring me a good laugh. The momma moose and calf moose were up by the apple trees last week. What a delight to have them around.
We’ve had a full last month or so. A few days after we arrived home from our Seattle trip, Solveig started her first day of school as a first grader at Hawthorne Elementary. Because of all that happened last year, she neither attended kindergarten, nor was fully home-schooled. She has learned to read and do awesome things like count to 100, but I’m guessing there are gaps. We are thankful she has a great teacher and is in a K/1 split class. When I ask Solveig each day what she did in school, she either begins with the important subject of lunch or recess. Her cousin, Haaken, also is at Hawthorne and so they often get to play together. Currently she is learning all about the solar system and comes home with cool facts like that the earth rotates around the sun and the moon rotates around the earth. They learned about the phases of the moon by eating away the chocolate top of an Oreo. Brilliant! Perhaps Solveig’s favorite part of school, or at least the most anticipated part, is riding the school bus. She is growing up and has to transfer buses at the high school all by herself. Here she is on her first day of school:
The week after school got underway, I had the joy of having a dear friend from Seattle come for a week-long visit. We had a great time enjoying the family and the glories of Montana together. One day she was here our 16 mile hike inadvertently turned into a 21 mile hike due to a wrong turn which we joyously blame on Sten who claimed the trail was, “well signed.” We also hit up Yellowstone one day and Allistaire had a great time looking for animals with the binoculars.
Only two days after my friend left, my brother, Patrick, my sister-in-law, Briana, niece, Lucy, and nephew, Elijah, arrived for a great visit. While a one year old limits how far afield you can go, we had a wonderful time just being together. Allistaire and Lucy played amazingly well everyday while Solveig was in school. On their last evening here, we took a glorious hike up Sypes Canyon and enjoyed amazing fall color of every kind and beautiful glowing sunset light thanks to the still present forest fire smoke.
In between visits, Allistaire had her fourth blood test since she finished her treatment. She has been doing so well, I nearly forgot to pray before coming in for the appointment. However, once the doctor was reading back the test results, it began to seem that her white blood count was steadily declining, based on a trend from the last several months. I asked if it was possible for only one blood line to trend downward if her cancer had returned. Our doctor spent a while on the phone with Children’s while Allistaire and I waited in the room. I couldn’t believe it – I couldn’t believe I was once again waiting in a tiny room, trying to hold it together but feeling like I was going to burst. I fought back the tears and tried to appear “normal” for Allistaire’s sake. The doctor returned and said that it is true that only one blood line going down could indicate the return of her cancer, but, she had made a mistake. What looked like a downward trend only looked that way because she had accidentally read the most recent blood test results that showed up on her computer – July’s results. August had been in Seattle and the blood test that day, on September 20th in Bozeman, had not yet come back. Needless to say, I was totally relieved and her numbers looked better than they have so far (Hematocrit: 42, Platelets: 259, White Blood Cells: 4.3, ANC 1750). However, the tears just flowed out. I could not help it. I was once again so intensely reminded of the reality of how possible it is for her cancer to return – not that I don’t already think about it every single day – many times every single day.
Living with my beloved and knowing every day that every thing can change in a flash has been the very hardest thing these past four months. I live with the joy that God has spared her life, but with the knowledge that at any time He could reveal His will that things will change with her. On Saturday I had the heart-breaking news that Stellablue’s cancer looks like it may have returned. We met she and her parents, Andy and Andrea Woods, while we were in the hospital. They were there from last September until this June. They live only a few miles from us here in Bozeman and went back a to have her regular CT scans and a spot on her lung was revealed. It could be a fungus that she has been battling, but the doctor is leaning toward it being her cancer. She had surgery last night to take a biopsy and now they wait to find out results. Our other friends from Bozeman, Pam and Jason Schrauger, are in San Francisco so that today, their four-year old, Caden, can have MIBG therapy that will hopefully destroy his neuroblastoma. His transplant had to be put on hold because his cancer did not sufficiently respond to chemotherapy. This is their one hope that he can get back on track with his treatment. At the beginning of September, I got word that a young man, Mario, had died – after five years of battling his cancer with 3 relapses and a transplant. In the end, it was not his cancer itself that killed him, but his lungs gave out.
I thought that it was un-dealt with sorrow, pent-up weeping that was what has had a strangle hold on me these last several months. I’ve explained my quick temper and lack of patience being due to needing to process what has happened and constantly having to hold everything in. I have felt like a dam of mighty rushing waters has constantly threatened to unleash. I have felt brittle and tender – only holding together by the thinnest of skin. Every single Sunday at church I have cried and cried. Again I tried to shut down the torrent of tears on my first day in my new Bible Study’s discussion group. Another woman also found herself crying and was shocked by it – she has had a long list of woes and asks that we pray for her immense sense of apathy. I understand that – it is dangerous to feel. To open the door to what is building inside you is too chaotic – that wild, thrashing sorrow that defies control.
The truth is, more than sorrow for what has transpired, there is sorrow for what may still be. The truth is I have been wild with fear. It has been a cold, clammy vice around my throat that has left me gasping. Last week I spent four days all alone. Four days in a hotel room with the chair in front of the window, the sun streaming in and I wrestling with my Lord. The truths of those days require savoring so I will write of those on another day.
For now, just one last thing – thanks be to God for bright fall afternoons and shadows dancing across the floors, the trees moving wild in the wind