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Dear Readers,

It’s back.

The leukemia is back. It’s in my spinal cord, but localized in one spot. The news was revealed not by surgery as expected, but, instead, by a lumbar puncture (thankfully performed by Interventional Radiology) and a 3-hour long MRI. Tomorrow, I will have an echocardiogram, a power port implanted, a bone marrow biopsy, and my first dose of chemotherapy.

My doctors have never seen Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) manifest like this. They’re consulting bigger hospitals to discern just how to treat me. At the end of the day, though, the goal is to eradicate the leukemia cells and then have a bone marrow transplant.

I need prayers, Dear Readers.

I need love and light and healing vibes. I am relying on others—on you—to be my strength in those moments that I have none. This fight will be a long one. This fight is going to require guts and stubbornness. It’s a battle that I will need your help with. I will need your encouragement. Your words of kindness, of hope, of love.

I know some of the landmarks of this path, but in many ways, it is completely new journey to me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hovering on the edge of being okay and complete hysteria.

BUT I plan on walking this path with grace.

I plan on cultivating gratitude and positive attitude as I go.

I fully intend to make the most of my time here, treating every day as the precious gift that it is. Even tomorrow, when I wake up in pain from the procedures, I will find something good to cling to. I will see the blessings in the day, even when my eyes are tear-filled.

Please, Dear Readers, keep my family and I in your prayers. Keep the good thoughts coming and I promise to do the same. This blog will continue to be a place of hope, of gratitude, of healing.

This will be the space that, every week (maybe not always on Mondays), where we can continue to meet.

 

With Love,

Laura

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Good Thoughts, Please

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Dear Readers,

I may not post on Monday. I am having an unexpected surgery tomorrow–Saturday morning. There is something in my spinal cord that shouldn’t be there. I don’t like asking this, but please send good thoughts, good vibes, and prayers this way.

Thank you for taking this journey with me–for following this blog in the first place. I hope to meet you here again, very soon.

 

With Love,

Laura

Repeat After Me: Joy, Peace, Love, Hope

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It’s Sunday evening and the hours are slowly slipping away. The apartment is quiet, calm, and Wallace the Wonderful is sleeping on the far end of the couch. It should be the perfect time to write, but my eyes keep wandering from my laptop’s screen to our miniature Christmas tree. There’s something mesmerizing about the way the lights weave through the branches, illuminating the treasured ornaments hanging there. From where I am sitting, I can see the angel that my grandmother made for me the Christmas of 1994. Darth Vader is on her left, wielding a red light saber. A glass snowflake—a light directly behind it—glows emerald.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve found myself studying our tree, retelling myself the stories behind each ornament. I am amused—and a little proud—that our 2-foot tree, high on a shelf, is so beautiful, so plump with love. Tonight, though, my tree-gazing is a little different. Tonight, I am searching for the words joy, peace, love and hope among our little tree’s boughs.

The search began, in earnest, this past Friday night. I was driving home, enjoying the outdoor Christmas lights along my route, and thinking about the scene that I had just left. I had gone to the VFW to watch my brother and his bandmates perform. Although I was busy snapping pictures of their band, Midnight Moonshine, I wasn’t so oblivious to my surroundings that I didn’t notice an elderly gentleman dancing.

“He’s 92,” an informant told me, “and he does this every week. He will dance here and then when this VFW closes, he’ll dance at the next one.”

Looking at the gentleman in question, there could be no mistaking what the smile on his face meant. He glowed with joy—joy for life, joy for dancing, joy for the present moment.

It seemed like a fitting emotion to have this time of year and it was this thought—that joy somehow “fit” this season—that I began to wonder about other words that might “fit”. My commute home, in fact, became a hunt for them.

While driving by a house with blue icicle lights, the word “peace” came to mind. I thought about how, earlier in the week, Wallace the Wonderful and I had fallen asleep on the couch listening to acoustic carols as the star atop our Christmas tree slowly and serenely shifted colors.

I thought of the word “love” while at an intersection, less than a block away from home, waiting for the light to turn green. Love surprises me on random mornings with a smile and a home-made breakfast fit for royalty. It is a word that I feel in my mother’s embrace and hear in my father’s jokes. Love tastes like hot cocoa, a spoonful of fluff melting atop the liquid and infusing the entire cup with its sweetness.

And, as I finally stepped into the light and warmth of our apartment, I felt the word “hope”. It was residing in the Christmas card on the table—our first card as a couple—and it greeted me with exuberant wishes for a happy and healthy season and year ahead.

Joy. Peace. Love. Hope.

We see these words so frequently this time of year—on accent pillows and wrapping paper, wall art and billboards—that they lose all meaning. The words become part of the backdrop, unobserved and unfelt, until a 92 year-old veteran, tearing up the dance floor, reminds you to start looking for them again.

A Sparkling, Silver-White Lining

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I will spare you the details for now, Dear Readers, but this past week was not a good one. So as not to worry any of you, I will say that—apart from being emotional—I am okay. There’s nothing to worry about. This past week simply rerouted me on yet another detour, reshaping what I thought would be the trajectory of my life.

Again, I repeat: I am okay.

I do, however, need to write a little bit about this particular detour or, rather, the lesson that I have learned from it. After all, it has given birth to a perfect storm of emotion—of relief, of anger, of grief, of sadness. This week I needed someone to pull me out of my own mind, to look me in the eyes, and remind me that now is precisely the time to search for silver linings in otherwise dark clouds.

I will be honest; my first thought when I heard that particular sentiment—of finding good amidst the bad—was a big “f*&k you”.

Yes, I know. My response (although unsaid) was neither kind nor gracious. I also share it with you knowing that that brave and wonderful soul that triggered that response is probably reading this, probably slightly amused because I rarely swear, and probably more than a little relieved that I finally agree.

Because, Dear Readers, I do wholeheartedly agree. The cold rain of tears, the haze of anger—as necessary as those emotions are at times, it’s hard to see anything through them. Yet, in the moments of calm between shifting weather patterns, a faint glow can be found on the horizon line. Hope can be found.

As I write this, I am reminded of this year’s first snowfall.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to bed in one world—a world of worn out lawns and shriveled leaves—and awoke in another. This new world glistened with ice and snow. Children’s giddy laughter and the rushed search for hats and mittens ushered in a new day, a new season.

We didn’t receive much snow—an inch at the most—but, as I drove home from work that afternoon, I saw that it had been just enough for the students at a nearby elementary school to build miniature snowmen. The children had, despite having so little material to work with, fitted the playground with at least three of these happy, little creatures.

The children’s ingenuity was heartwarming then, and it is heartwarming now, even though that first snowfall and their creations have melted away. Why? Because the children didn’t look at the meager snowfall and think despairingly, “Oh, this isn’t enough” or, “Oh, this isn’t what I hoped for”. The children looked at the snow and thought, “let’s try”. And, then, they set to work creating something beautiful.

In this life, we do not always get what we want or what we dream of. We like to fool ourselves into thinking that there is a set route with specific milestones along the way—school, career, marriage, home, children, growing old with the ones we love—but more often than not, that’s not how life unfolds.

Maybe you drop out of school, or maybe you make it through only to find that there are no jobs in your field.

Maybe you can afford two houses, or maybe you can barely pay your rent.

Maybe you have a child before you’re ready, or maybe you find out that motherhood might not be in your particular stack of cards.

Life, ultimately, is not as ordered as we would like to think. It disregards plans and expectations. As one of my incredible infusion nurses once told me, “Life is full of detours and this is just a detour”. If there is a silver lining in any of this, it is the sparkling silver-white one found in miniature snowmen. It is the knowledge that life can be wonderful, as long as we listen to the voices of reason and are open to the beauty inherent in all that we already have.

Like children on a wintry playground, it’s not about how much snowfall you’re given—it’s about what you do with it.