Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not feeling it yet

But not because I can't--because I'm not letting myself. I don't really want to let myself go into that until probably tomorrow night, when I'll have time to.

I got the news yesterday, sometime between 11 and noon. Called A at work; she said she'd come home. Took a shower because I hadn't yet. Called a few others: teachers, clergy. I wanted them to know before I put it on Facebook, and I wanted to hear their voices.

A came home, already feeling it. I wasn't. We sat at the kitchen table and talked about practical details: giving her my passwords and that sort of thing. We both did our own thing for a bit, then we went to a local park that has a Japanese garden and a zoo. I wanted to walk barefoot. The garden was closed, so we walked around looking at monkeys and turtles for awhile.

We came home. She made dinner while I did Facebook and e-mail. I'm completely overwhelmed by the response my news has gotten. So. much. love. I'm not even letting myself feel that yet--I'm saving it for later, when I've begun to come to terms with this in my own self.

We made ourselves eat; neither of us wanted to. I don't feel this emotionally--or rather, I'm only beginning to. All of my anxiety is in my body.

We slept. I woke up before the alarm, looked at my inbox again, and IM'ed with Margaret until she had to go to work. We got up, forced ourselves through showers and breakfast. I rode with A to work so I could use the car today, and now I'm back home. I have a breathing test at Kaiser Sac at 1 this afternoon. Then I'm going to Trinity to find Kathleen. I asked her for time; no agenda, just wanting to connect. After that, I have an appointment with my spiritual director. Yesterday I wanted to talk to her about this. Today I don't.

I might or might not go back to Trinity afterward for dinner. Thursday dinners were my project and I organized them--I've just handed it off, because I can't do that responsibility and my own health now. Part of me wants the attention; knows they know, wants the love. Part of me isn't ready to face that much attention yet. I need to feel my own emotions first. It's not like when I went to the ordinations at Grace, loving my ordinand friends, needing hugs and knowing I'd get them. This is so much more serious. It's not, "You're probably clean; don't worry." It's, "I'm so sorry I had to tell you. You've got it in your bones, lungs, and several other places." I know exactly what my odds are. I know where we're at with treatment options. This is stage IV melanoma.

I'm still waiting for the doctor in Riverside to call me. I'm anxious about that too. I want some time to be healthy. I wonder if it's realistic to ask for July?

Of course I will fight. All my instincts say, cooperate with the doctors' best efforts. I would rather live than die. I also know that I don't control my body's response to treatment. If I had that power, I'd have been done a year ago. I know I'm in the fight of my life, and I'm present and willing to do what I need to. If I throw up six times a day, but the treatment's working, then I'll keep throwing up for the sake of survival. I also know that it could go either way, and that I am more likely to die than to live. I want to go where this takes me, with my eyes open.

I didn't ask for a cancer ministry. But I have it. And I want to do it well. I write for myself, in public--and I have an idea of the effect of these words. I go where this takes me, and I report from those places. I'm willing to do that as long as I'm able to.

But I don't want to be a movie of the week, you know? This isn't about some fake sappy heroism. If I survive this, living through it as transparently as I can, I will be so much better at everything. One of my teachers told me, "It's an awful way to get ministry skills. But you're getting them." She was right. Can I enter into pain without fear? Yes.

Mindful that I haven't talked to the doctor in Riverside. He may have other ideas. There may be reasons that I'm not eligible for IL-2. There may be other viable options (trials, etc). There may not be. I have no real idea where I'm going.

All I know is that I will never be alone again.

Did God have anything to do with me getting cancer? Fuck no. God would way rather me be hanging out with homeless people. But here I am, and here God is, and here are the people who love me.

I wrote that I almost hoped we'd find something; I wanted to see my body respond well to treatment. Part of me is shocked to the bone that we did find something. But I think I also knew, as soon as I felt that tumor inside me three weeks ago, that there would be more. And I think that my "almost hoping" was really, getting ready.

I have no idea where this is taking me. But I know that I can go there. It's easier, when it's your own self. I hurt more for the people who love me.


Caminante said...

"Did God have anything to do with me getting cancer? Fuck no."

I could not say it any better than this. You've nailed it.

susan s. said...

What Caminante said. . .

I put you on the prayer list at St. Mark's. I hope that's alright. The more prayers the better, I always say.

it's margaret said...

shoes off.
curling my toes.
in prayer.

Audi Mama said...

audrey from oly. love you and thinking of you. what can we do?

Two Auntees said...

Prayers for you and all those who love you. I, too, was shocked by this news. Prayers will be coming from every where to you in this journey.

susankay said...

And on the prayer list at another StMark's

Juniper said...

hugs and prayers and hugs

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirstin,
I wanted to share this beautiful video with you. It might brighten your spirits. I hope so.
With much love,
Mary Beth

Lisa Fox said...

I've been reading and praying and quietly lurking.
I still don't have anything useful to say.
Except that I, too, am with you.

Anonymous said...

Kirstin, Here are lyrics from a song that means a lot to me. First God sings, then the Child sings. Then they sing together. Both voices are real. Both voices are real.


"I feel your pain
I dry your tears
I hold your hand
I'm always there."


"Why do your little babies die?
Why does the earth rumble
Why does it hurt to be alive?
Please answer me. Please tell
me why?"

Repeat Chorus:

Jack P.

Catherine said...

Like Lisa, I feel my words are inadequate, like I have nothing meaningful to say. But I will tell you that I love you, that I am talking to God, Son and Holy Spirit, about you, about you and A. And about those who love you like me.

Lisa Fox said...

Kirstin, I've been thinking of you a lot over these past couple of days. Feeling the powerlessness that you and we are feeling.

A question came to me: Is there a discipline, a devotion that we could do to be in solidarity with you? You know we're already in prayer.

Is there something else we could do as a "visible sign" in our daily practice? Think about it ... would you?

Kirstin said...


Lisa, that's a neat idea. I'll think about it.