Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sleeping. Thinking. Processing.

I just woke up from a two-hour nap, and I could go back to sleep if I lay still.

I bailed to Stockton for the weekend, on impulse. Here, at my best friend’s house, is where I’ll be staying over the summer while I’m sick from interferon. I came out here yesterday, after my class graduated. I was socially exhausted and not up for a party in Berkeley—but I needed to be somewhere other than where I was.

I drove with music, in Friday afternoon traffic. My attention was taken. As soon as I got out here, things started hitting me. Only in the head; I’m not feeling anything yet. But my mind is going a mile a minute, and won’t stop except when I sleep.

I wake up, and the first thing I think of is “thank you.” But I’ve told all the humans that, so often that a few are probably tempted to smack me. I know I’m still held in their prayer, even as the community dissipated for the summer. I’m still very much in their love. They gave me time, support, listening, and the dharma teachings I needed before I ever went into this (and that’s another post). They prayed for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. They told me I was strong—as they bore me up.

I don’t even know where God fits into this yet. Life, yes and ever yes. But it’s all too huge to wrap my head around. I am amazed and grateful. I am also too exhausted right now, to lose myself in gazing at that mountain.

I haven’t slept straight through, for a month. My body hasn’t relearned that ability. But I slept like a rock last night, except for the hour and a half that I was awake (and writing). I’m used to waking, grabbing my laptop and writing, posting, going back to sleep. Here, it’s in another room. I got up, worked for an hour, and was so tired that I went back to bed without finishing. I slept so hard, that I woke with a foot cramp. And a racing mind, again.

I’m thinking about courage and grace, God and love and internal toughness. About the teachings I was given a year ago, before I or my teacher knew I’d need to practice them as intentionally, and as early, as I did. About how remembering those teachings, and letting them work in me now, helped me stay open to the experience. About healing, in body, mind, and soul.

I’m thinking about who I was before the diagnosis; and who I am now, one month later (tomorrow) and one stain away from “clean.” I was told so often that I was an example. I knew that I was going through this in a fishbowl, and that I would be teaching what it was like to live with a cancer diagnosis. I probably put too much pressure on myself to do it well—I know I didn’t give myself enough grace, when I felt fragile. The one thing I did right, repeatedly, was to be intentionally open to and with my community. I let them know what was happening, within the first week. I asked for their support, and I let them love and pray for me. This gave them something to do, when they were worried for their friend (who was plenty scared, herself). And it gave me a web of presence. There was always someone I could go to.

My community sustained me. They held my faith, and my body, for me. When I go back to school, I want to be—and be understood to be—a healthy, healed, and whole human being. There will be some transitioning. But in that time, leaning on them was right.

If you ever face a threatening diagnosis, let your community know it. Let them love you. Let them support you. (Don’t ever go to appointments alone, for instance—and I never had to.) When you have no idea how to talk to God, let them be your prayer.

I’m going back to Berkeley on Monday, and to the oncologist Tuesday. I’ll know then, what’s ahead of me. I need to finish two reflection papers before I get sick, and clean and pack my bedroom. I’ll be back out here sometime the first week of June. Then, I’ll need lots of prayer again. I won’t be afraid, but I’ll be ill and uncomfortable.

Right now, though, I’m in a reprieve. Breathing, thinking, writing. My friend just came in from a (fruitless) search for light fixtures. We talked about how there are aspects of all of this, that aren’t real to me yet—and it was I, soul and body, who lived it. And about where God has been in all of this.

That’s another post.


Jane R said...

Peace to you and more peace, Kirstin.

Kirstin said...

Thank you, Jane.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Hi, Ms Van Gogh. Your ear looks good, Kirstin, especially so soon after surgery. Prayers for a good report on Tuesday, and that the interferon will not be too hard on you. Sounds like you have an amazing group of friends. May God bless you and keep you in peace.

The Swandive said...

I think a friend of mine graduated with you / your class. I've been away / offline for a few days, and have been mostly lurking lately, but thinking of you most days, holding you in prayer.
Love love.

Kirstin said...

Mimi, my friends rock my world out loud. Thanks for your prayers!

Rachel, I e-mailed you. :-)