Disturbing the dust

What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

...human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
~ T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Burnt Norton

We went on a boat ride on Lake Sylvia this weekend with Ken & Janel. The azure sparkle of the water, the faint smells of fish and grass, the heat of the afternoon sun on the water, the cabins, people jumping off of docks, baiting their children's fishing poles, echoes of laughter dancing over the sound of the wind and waves...it all brought memories rushing back to me. I remembered the rope swing at Lax Lake, the feeling of the water whipping your legs back when you finally hit, the plunge to the murky bottom to propel yourself skyward again. The very first time I tried waterskiing and failed because of my fear of being in the middle of the lake alone, frustrating my parents and grandparents, and most of all, myself. We rented a cabin in Chetek one year: I remember grilling brats, drinking beer with my Grandpa and watching him waterski in his '70's, only to find out a week later that he had a huge aneurysm in his aorta that could have easily burst from the exertion and impact. I remember sitting in my kayak in Lake Superior, forcing myself to bait a fish hook and take fish off the hook myself for the first time, and praying for a husband so I wouldn't have to do it again! Somewhere deep in my muscles lingers the memory of the exhaustion after a day of being pulled in a tube behind the boat, or swimming to the other side of the lake and back with my brother, or paddling down to the next lake in the chain and back to the cabin. I remember crispy corn-flake crusted fish dinners, sunnies fried in oil on the porch, watermelon pickles, California burgers - the first time I enjoyed an onion, at 12! - baked beans, iced tea. I remember taking Katy on her first boat ride, her screams ringing loudly above the noise of the boat motor! Watching Caleb smile on his first boat ride (in the same confining life jacket) was such a contrast.

Memories are so bittersweet, aren't they? I wonder how much of heaven's glory will simply be the ability to linger, enjoy, fill oneself with these experiences...scents, and sounds, tactile richness, fellowship. What makes memories so bittersweet is that they constitute joys that are in the past forever: a new baby, a vacation, a great meal, stimulating conversation, an act of kindness or service, your honeymoon, your first kiss. They only happen once, don't they? I hope I get to experience some of these things again in heaven. Memories just don't do the experiences justice!

In unrelated news, I received some blood test results yesterday - positive ones this time! My tumor marker test is negative, meaning there was none of my tumors DNA found in the blood sample they took August 18. That is a good indicator (although not conclusive - there's always a catch!) that the tumor did not metastasize (spread) before they took it out. However, some of my other blood work is showing definite signs of continued thyroid or tumor function, so the team at Mayo is definitely considering going ahead with the radioactive iodine treatments in September. I will know more after my appointment with them. I am resting on this verse today, one that has comforted me many time before...
"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3