When There Are No Words

As a writer, I don’t want to ever believe there are no words to write. Sometimes I stumble over what to say, but all-in-all words are very important to me.

However, as I watch my granddaughter grow, I find that I’m reveling in the moments of touch.  My absolute favorite times with her have been when she lays her head on my shoulder and falls asleep on me.  I could hold her like that for days!

I also love that when she wants to show me something or we need to walk together, she reaches up and grabs my hand. There’s just something so magical walking with her while feeling her hand grasping my fingers.

Here she is with her daddy.

I remember sitting in the movie theatre during my first date with my husband at age 17. (Yes, we were high school sweethearts).  He reached over and took my hand during the movie. My heart beat faster and my breath hitched….all the feelings of young love. I didn’t want him to let go. To this day, I still love holding hands with him.  It brings back those giddy feelings of falling in love.

There are not enough words for these feelings with my granddaughter or husband. I believe touch is powerful — as powerful as words.

When I was 20-years-old, and very foolish, I was in a motorcycle accident. I had a compound fracture of my femur, and they had to take me to surgery right away to stabilize my leg. They couldn’t put me under anesthesia, so they gave me a spinal block that numbed me from the waist down. I was awake for the surgery, as the doctors set my leg into traction until further surgeries (four total) could be performed.

During surgery, the shock of the accident wore off, and I realized what was happening. I started shaking, my shoulders convulsing. I was scared!

The anesthesiologist then did the most simple yet perfect thing. He laid his hands on my head to calm me down.  Just hands on my head. And guess what? That touch was the most comforting and calming touch I’ve ever felt. It settled me down and obviously, made a lasting impact on me.

There are many times when words fail us. It’s so hard to say the right things when someone is dealing with grief, or a tough medical diagnosis, or even when having a bad day. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit beside them, hold their hand, or give them a hug. That gesture, that touch, can mean more than words can say.

 

 

The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
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Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Being There

As I write this, the world is talking about the shocking passing of Robin Williams. As the TV talking heads are going through his television and movie credits, I realize how many of his movies I’ve seen… and loved.  It is incredibly sad to lose such a great talent.

But through all of this discussion, this man who is being heralded as a comic legend, who entertained millions, has suddenly become very human.  Yes, we tend to put celebrities on a pedestal, forgetting that along with their immense talent, they are human beings, going through this life of ups and downs, marriage, children and everything else.

Obviously, Robin Williams was battling more.  He was always open about substance abuse, but did many of us realize he struggled with depression?  Severe depression.

It’s almost inconceivable that someone who was so loved and admired was in such a dark and lonely place where he was driven to take his own life.  He brought such laughter to everyone else, but couldn’t find the joy for himself. It’s tragic.

I’m almost embarrassed with my last post, when I talk about “wallowing” in my own sadness of recent events in my life.  Thankfully, I haven’t been to the darkest place where I’ve thought of a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  I always knew I’d pull out of this and things would get better.

But I didn’t share with many how sad I was feeling.  I don’t always share, because I don’t want to burden others, I don’t want to come across as a whiner, and I don’t want to be considered a negative person.

Was that mindset preventing me from getting the support and encouragement I needed at the time?  How do you balance reaching out without being a whiner?  How do you invite people in without pushing them away?

Hopefully, more discussion will come from this awful passing of Robin Williams about depression, about how to help others.  One thing I heard this morning was just be there. You may not be able to solve the problem, but you can come along beside someone and just remind them that they mean something to you, that their life has value.

Maybe this is a reminder to all of us to hug your family and friends and say “I love you.”  I hate that we have to be reminded, and that we’re usually reminded when someone else has died. We need make this part of our daily lives.

Life is short.  Reach out to someone.  Touch base.  Just be with someone today and hold their hand, give them a hug…. heck, just smile at someone and wish them a wonderful day.

What a difference we could make if we all did that every day.

Caring for the Care-Giver

One of the most difficult things with having cancer was worrying about my husband and family. I think they have the hardest job. Yes, I was enduring surgery, and previously, radiation. But I had doctors, nurses, and others taking good care of me, and I really had no choice with what I had to go through as the patient. I was just along for the ride. But being the spouse of someone battling this disease is often times worse than being the patient. It’s so difficult to sit on the sidelines and watch your loved one in pain or going through surgery. There’s nothing worse than that helpless feeling. Who takes care of the care-giver?

No matter how many times I told my husband to take a break or make sure he was in good shape, he’d always say “It’s not about me right now.”
Well, in my mind, it was about him. He marvels that people from our church came to sit with him and pray during my surgery. He doesn’t understand that having our friends with him so he wouldn’t be alone made ME feel better. I wanted him to feel love and supported. It doesn’t do us any good as patients to watch our loved ones run themselves ragged.

While being a cancer patient is often a lonely road, I believe being the spouse or a loved-one of a cancer patient is often lonelier and scarier.

The next time you go see a sick friend, or visit a patient in the hospital, make sure you take the time to do something special for the spouse of that patient. Let them know they really aren’t alone and that people care about them as much as they care about the patient. Take them out for coffee and let them talk. Listen to them. They have just as many fears as the cancer patient does. Maybe more…

Take care of the care-giver. It’s good medicine for all of us.

Keep on truckin’ everyone!