Pipe dreams


Thyroid cancer is a long-term commitment. I remember being told, "This is something you will live with for the rest of your life." But those words don't soak in at 29 when you are holding your 8-week-old baby, nursing him, trying to picture what having surgery will look like. You simply can't fast-forward years into the future to imagine the rest of your life. And today the forever part is here, and I am wasted-exhausted, the wrung out dirty dish rag hanging limp over the lip of the stainless steel sink. I am the dead grass, the wilted weed, the dry and curly leaf hopelessly clinging. Hyperthyroid because spring is here, and my body uses all it's energy to keep on chugging, none left over for the extra things like cooking, laundry, loving, working.

The yellow of my dad's cattail stained glass bleeds warmth into his study, where we sit and talk about academic papers and projects for our next few years as colleagues - our dream come true. I sit in the warm light and imagine being a professor with him, and it seems like a pipe dream. Hardly worth wasting mental energy on the dreaming.


Later that Friday, I watch my children snuggle their stuffed animals in the peace of nap, and I wonder what pipe dreams play over their brainwaves in technicolor. I reach up to touch the matted grit of my own Mama's comfort object, Twinkles, the white elephant with his floppy red ears and the wind-up music box that still works 50 years later. I wonder how Twinkles played into her musicianship and the compositions that flow straight from her heart stuck close like glue to God's, wonder if Twinkles was the first of those pipe dreams of music for her.

Pipe dream for me is someday surviving spring and fall without this deep pull toward the grave, as I feel myself sinking away from life others know, and I feel the cancer patient. Pipe dream is being truly healthy. It hasn't seemed my fate ever in this life, but I pray anyway. Why not keep praying the thorn be removed? Can I say, with Paul, that God's strength is made perfect in weakness? (II Corinthians 12:7-10)

I page through my gratitude journal for this week, written in red, a first for someone who writes everything in black. And there I see that yes, He is made perfect in my weakness. That the little joys keep meandering through my days like a thread of gold woven into the tired gray fabric of sick days and fatigue. Eva Cassidy, long dead of cancer, sings my children to sleep for nap, and I sing with her, too, after reading these little gratitudes:

My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

Oh though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
Oh though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

Lord, how can I keep from singing?
Oh, how can I keep from singing?
~written by Robert Wadsworth Lowry, 1868~


Excerpted from my gratitude journal, #282-311:
283. The blue and gold of the hot steel of the maple syrup boiling pan
285. Singing again in front of an audience
289. Amy loving therapy
292. God teaching me gently to SIMPLY BE with Him without words
297. Unexpected piano time with my best friend
299. Tears
301. Raw honey
304. Proposal edited
305. God's grace to work through exhaustion
307. Music - wild miraculous soul-melting - at church
310. Icicles in mudpuddles
311. Joy in the lament