Sunday, July 31, 2011

Holding On to Hope

 Yesterday I purged my fears and my anger. Sometimes, it all boils over inside and just needs to be let out. Being a writer, this is where it ends up when I have to let it out. I'd actually apologize, but that would be disingenuous. This is just a part of how it works.

 I'm letting go of my anger, asking God to take it from me and help me move past it. I have to remember that there are better things to hold on to. Such as hope.

 We have hope, at least, that the Doctors can still do something through medicine. We hold onto the fact that God might still do something.

 I need to remember to hold onto the light that is in my life, and not focus only on the bleak.

So I chose to hold onto hope.

A Cynic's Prayer

 This title was a little bit more prosey than I have tended to be in this blog, but it reflects how I've been feeling lately. Robin has been recovering pretty well from her hip replacement, at least until yesterday. Her other leg started hurting a lot, and now we have to wonder if the other tumor has grown to the point where it is causing problems in that leg too. I hope not.

 This brings us back around to the title. My only prayers lately have been: "Please God, heal Robin, and take away her pain." I don't think it's too much to ask, really. I'm not praying for wealth, or wisdom, or for my enemies to be defeated. I just want my wife to be well again. I want for us to be able to concentrate on getting ready for Meg starting middle school. I want to concentrate on Logan starting pre-school. I don't want to keep going over the scenario where I tell the kids that Mommy isn't coming home because she is with Jesus now.

 God I don't have it in me to do that. If it wasn't for the kids, I'd suck start a pistol at this point in my life. I just want Robin to ,at the very least, not be in pain anymore. Gone are the prayers of a job I truly enjoy, owning our own home, having any type of things... We are purely in survival mode. I am only praying for my wife not to die.

 I feel the worst for my mother-in-law and for my oldest daughter. For my mother in law, she is dealing with the one bright side in this for us. It isn't happening to one of our kids. For her, it's just that. Robin is her daughter, her baby, no matter what age she is.
 For Meg, my heart breaks because no soon-to-be fifth grade should have to deal with this. Her life should be decorating her locker, dealing with mean middle school girls and finding out that some boys are cute. Waking up wondering if mommy feels good enough to make her breakfast isn't part of the deal.

 I keep waking up every morning hoping one of two things: This is a dream, or I just didn't wake. The second one is purely selfish, because I am getting to the end of my rope. I realize the second one is me just raging, because I know I have to be here for my children, no matter what. Should it come to having to have a talk with them, I will find the reserves inside myself and do it, because they need me around. I don't want to, but life is a long string of doing things we don't want to do. It's duty, plain and simple.

I just pray it doesn't come to that.

 I keep praying. Even though it has become the definition of insanity right now: "Doing something over and over and expecting different results." I guess that is where sanity crosses over into faith, however tenuous it might be.

 Dear God,
 Take me instead of my wife. I am damaged goods anyway. My children need a mother more anyway. Mothers are the ones who really make things better. Mothers are the ones who kiss away boo-boos. Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of children. If you have decided you have to take one of us, because you, in you mysterious an unknowable ways, have to kill one of my children's parents, than take me. Heal my wife. I'm really trying not to be mad at you, but you have been kind of a dick lately. You have brought a lot of support our way through the love of others who have empathy to what we are going through. You have placed the burden on the hearts of many people to reach out to us. A lot of people are praying, right now, for you to heal Robin. What's the deal. I accept that sometimes you say no, because you have to. But that's bullshit, you're God. You said no to a lot of other prayers before. All I wan't is for my wife to pull through. you already took her boobs, her uterus her hip and left her with a patchwork of scars. It makes her more beautiful to me because her strength shines through, but damn you for the pain. I accept what is. Sometimes, Buddhists were onto something. I accept what is, where we are, and that you have some kind of plan. But please heal Robin. And if you can't do that, than take me in her place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

True Love

 So many times, we hear people talking about true love; True love conquers all, love is patient, love is kind.

 How much do we really know about it? What are our thoughts on what it really entails?

 When Robin and I were dating way back when, I never, NEVER, could have envisioned any of this. Then again, I didn't envision any of the ups and downs of our life until this point. I couldn't have imagined our children, the places we have lived and the people we had met.

 I didn't realize that when we fought through everything, only to find this on the other side, that there we would also find the real meaning of love.

 Love, when it comes to two people means many things. What it really means to me right now is as simple a thing as being there. Being there when it is hard. Being there and being strong when you don't want to be. Being there when all you really want to do is to shut life out, crawl back to your room and lock the door.

 Love is being there watching someone sleep, just in case they might need you. Love is being there and holding their hand through everything, because that is the only thing you can do. There is nothing you can fight, there is nothing to kill, all you can do is to be the rock, be the physical thing to hold on to.

 That's all we can do. Hold on and be strong. Be the best incarnation of perfect love we can be for one another, and pray that God will give us the strength to keep doing it when we don't want to, or think we can't go farther.

 The Corps taught me a lot about going farther then you ever thought you possibly could. Turns out we can do the same thing emotionally.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pain and Powerlessness

 So today Robin had her hip replacement. Thirty years old is too young for many things, and a hip replacement is not the least of them. Nevertheless, here we are.

 The surgery went as well as possible, which I'm thankful for, but once she was in the recovery room, the pain started. We had heard it would be bad, but we just wonder how much you can take in the end.

 Sitting there, holding her hand while she writhed in pain was a place I didn't want to be at again, and it was a place that is becoming all too familiar.

 It will get better over the next few days, though. It's hard to remember that in the here and now sometimes.

 This too shall pass. And the outpouring of support and love and all the prayers has gotten us this far.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The last big day of our summer

 Yesterday was the last big day of our summer. When we found out the results of the PET scan, and they started figuring out the plan from here on out, Robin decided we should take the kids to the beach. So we did.

 And they loved it.

 The trip down to Ocean City, NJ, was a little bit of a hike for a day trip, but we all love to travel.

 And more importantly, we had a great time. The kids loved it, we loved it, and we are going back next year.

 Some times, no matter what you're going through, you just have to put the breaks on, and spend a day at the beach.

There is just something about spending some time in the waves, feeling the sand between your toes. Smelling that salt air on the cool ocean breezes. I just wanted to pause life and stay...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cotton and Steel

 "Cotton does not sharpen steel."

One of my friends told me that a few weeks ago, and I keep coming back to it lately. I keep thinking about it, rolling it around in my mind, and it rings true.

 I feel better after venting yesterday. A lot of feelings had been building in my mind, and they just needed to be let loose. Through the outpouring of love from our friends, I am back to my center again. When it comes down to it, none of us understand why we have adversity in our lives, but they sharpen us. Through are adversity, we become stronger. The fire of the Crucible refines us. (oorah!)

 So, here we are. The cancer is elsewhere in Robin's body. This is basically our worst-case scenario, and we are in it. Now we move forward. When trials appear, we move forward, or we die.

 So we move forward.

 Musashi said in his Dokkodo, "Accept everything just the way it is." This is our reality. This is what is. So we accept it and move forward.

 We all have trials and pain, and don't understand why. I don't know why some of my friends have had miscarriages, I don't know why my friend's daughter has an incurable bone disease. I don't know why cancer exists at all.

 But there are only two choices. Fight on, or die.

 We will fight.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


 So the results from Robin's PET scan came back. The nodes in both lungs, and two we didn't know about, both on either side of her pelvis are showing up as more cancer. Not really sure how to deal with all this. We were so hopeful that this would turn out to be our miracle. That this would be the point where it would turn around and we would be headed toward recovery.

 So it is a bit of a setback. We are now waiting on the Doctors to figure out a plan on where to go from here. The good in this is that the bone metastases tend to respond well to radiation. The lung metastases respond well to chemo. So, looks like more of the same. It's just now she is officially terminal going through this.

 That is some shit isn't it? Terminal cancer at 30. Though, every day kids out there are dying with terminal cancer just because.

 I know I haven't talked a lot about faith in this blog, and that's because it is something I am having a harder time talking about. I pray. I pray a lot. I prayed that the lump would turn out to be just a cyst, or some scar tissue. Nope, cancer. I prayed the chemo would work and the cancer would shrink. Nope, cancer grew. I prayed that the mastectomy would go as well as it possibly could. That one, I guess we got. It went as well as getting your breasts cut off possibly could, but we did get the bombshell of the positive pregnancy test; which they assured us would have to be terminated, since the chemo would have messed up a fetus to an extreme degree.

 Luckily, she wasn't actually pregnant, it was just weird hormones being given off by the chemo, or some random other occurrence. But, for a few hours we thought we were being forced into an abortion. So, that went as well as it could. Then we had the hysterectomy. I prayed that would go well. Nope, Robin had five days in the hospital with a perforated bowel.

 Then, Robin got to be one of the lucky ones to react poorly to Taxol. Horrific muscle pain, plus horrific bone pain from the Neulasta. I spent nights praying that the pain would just leave her. It didn't.

 Next we were supposed to move on to radiation, but during the mapping scan, they noticed some nodules in her lungs that seemed weird. Hmm, if we had had a PET scan months ago, it probably would have shown up, but "the scan won't show anything that we wouldn't notice first by symptoms." So, since we hadn't had a PET scan yet, we had one the other day, during which I prayed that the nodules would be gone and that we would get our blessing. I mean we had tons of people praying with us for the same thing, right? God said he would be with us if we all prayed in one accord, right? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe He'll say no, just because. Maybe part of his plan is letting her suffer. Maybe he has more glory to come to him through that. Maybe there is glory to be had in suffering.

 Then again, if I wanted a god to randomly mess with my life for fun, I would have worshiped the Greek gods.    
Hell, I'd worship the Norse pantheon. Valhalla is a way better option for me. I'd fit in there.

 We had prayers answered before, mostly with no, but now I understand why. If I had gotten the Intel jobs that I was a shoe-in for, I wouldn't have been here through all this most likely. We probably would have been someplace else. Hell, If I had reenlisted in the Marines again, I might have been overseas. So, at least it makes sense why we are here.

 All of this, though, I can't wrap my head around. But it is our life, and we have to get through it. Now I just pray that I don't have a day where I have to tell my kids Mommy isn't coming home. I can't do that.

 I was prepared for the possibility of not coming home when I was in Afghanistan. It is part of the deal. When I found myself in a minefield, I accepted that as part of the job. Working at the prison, I accept the possibility that something could happen at any given time. With the jobs I have had, it's just part of it.

 I can't accept that God wants to take my wife from me. That he wants to take my children's mother from them.

 On the plus side, I turned my rage inside and went for a run. It felt good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten years

 Where did ten years go? I am sitting here sipping bourbon and water watching Robin wrap Meg's birthday presents, and I wonder where the last ten years went.

 Ten years ago we were sitting at the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, lovingly referred to as CHOMP, waiting for Meghan to come into our life. I was a 23 year old Lance Corporal in the Marines, and Robin was my 20 year old wife. We were young and clueless, and had no idea how much this 7 lb, 15 oz. ball of blonde mischief was going to change our life.

 Cue 4 years of sleepless nights, tending a sick kid from time to time, and generally trying to figure out how to be parents on the fly. Some times we did alright, other times we could have done much better, but we were learning as we went. Eventually she learned to talk, learned to sleep in her own bed, and somewhere along the line she grew into a beautiful, hard-headed young woman.

 Eventually we'll figure out what we are doing.

 Now I'm a 33 year old veteran, working in the Federal Prison system, something I never thought I would be doing, and Robin is 30 and fighting cancer, which we also never expected. We have three beautiful children now, including the aforementioned middle-schooler. I couldn't imagine life without them.

 And you know, I wouldn't change a thing. Except for maybe the cancer.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


 First, I have to apologize from my absence from writing. I could make excuses, but it just comes down to the fact I haven't sat down to write in a while. So I am rectifying that now.

 Now, on to writing.

 Lately, I have been thinking a lot about divorce, not because Robin and I were thinking about it, but because it is something going on all around us. On a certain level, it bothers me quite a bit. I always wonder what happens in a relationship where you get to the point where you don't love one another anymore.
 I know, on an intellectual level, that sometimes it can't be avoided. Sometimes there wasn't a strong enough foundation to hold it all together. Sometimes, you realize you married a giant douche who is running around on you. Sometimes, you realize your partner is a sociopath, and that is the safer road.

 Sometimes, though, it really seems that the only reason is that one or the other refused to grow. Marriage is a living thing. You need to grow, together, and both need to put effort into it, or it dies.

 I think the only reason it hit me so hard recently, is because Robin is sick. We had our own share of problems over the years, and we were walking the line at a time; but we grew. We fought for our relationship, and we came through it on the other side. And then we got this prize. Yay us.

 And it leveled me. Everything we fought for, everything we held together might end up being taken from us anyway. All that work might not mean anything due to the cosmic forces set against us. What a bitch that is.

 Whet it comes down to it, the thought of not having Robin with me terrifies me. She is my best friend. The thought of not having our random conversations, not having someone to bounce my random stupid thoughts off of. Not having my soul mate with me.

 The possibility of losing her to cancer terrifies me, and the fact that other people are throwing it away pisses me off.

 But I'll get off my podium.