Thursday, April 19, 2018

'When all the darkness is swarming' - Two years down the road

Sometimes the air is so anxious
All my thoughts are so reckless
And all of my innocence has died
Sometimes I wake at four in the morning
When all the darkness is swarming
And it covers me in fear
Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes
Sometimes I'm full of anger and grieving
So far away from believing
That any song will reappear
The Little Things that Give you Away - U2 (Songs of Experience, 2017)
I recently rediscovered a writing prompt about 'darkness' that I'd copied from somewhere. It asked about darkness; those that have chosen you or the ones that you chose. So I'm writing about the dark place that I did not chose. This time two years ago I was in ICU after having a cancerous tumour removed from my bowel. During the surgery, which was more intensive and longer than they had imagined I was given a stoma (which was a surprise and something I needed to adjust to).

After a initial round of chemo, new tumours were discovered in my lungs. Almost 18 months has past since that initial consultation, and I have been on fortnightly chemotherapy since then. The chemo often knocks me about, but I've been learning (or trying to learn) a new way of doing life, dealing with a chronic illness.

In these years there certainly has been darkness, where I grieve for the future, grieve what I have lost, and grieve that I am not always the person I want to be.

I'm learning to be kinder to myself. I'm trying to be kinder to my wife and kids. I know I have not always been a great husband and dad - part of that is the drugs, but part of it is also understanding where I am and communicating it to those around me.

The hardest thing is wanting to do all the things, but not having the energy to do them. Or doing all the things, because you don't want to miss out, and then feeling shattered. Sometimes you pull through, sometimes you pull out, and sometimes you just pull it together.

Not always knowing what you are going to feel like is hard. Feeling like you are letting someone down is hard.

And yes I need to be kind to myself.

I don't like the talk of Cancer as a battle or fight, that I'll win or lose.  Sure I'd love to be around for longer than I'm likely to, but that doesn't mean I've lost. In making memories, and sharing in your story I've won. Each and every day I have is a victory, and I know the death is not the end. I want you to remember more of me than the cancer. I want you remember the times we've had, the experiences we've shared.

So, I began by thinking about darkness. The frightening thing is knowing the capacity you have to hurt those around you by your words and deeds, so it's hard when because I can't manage things I snap at my wife and kids. Yes, when you see me, I look like I have it all together, my posts to varying degrees portray that I have it all together. I don't. While I'm okay most days; I'm certainly struggling on others.

So, I know I'm a stage four cancer patient, and I know one day my body will fail. In the meantime, I take comfort from the fact that I know more people than I know pray for me, I take comfort from the fact the Christ walked in darkness, and knows what it means to truly suffer. I take comfort from each of you, fighting your own battles in silence or in public. I take comfort from all the little things, and all the big things. I know God has numbered my days and set the boundary of my life. I want to honour him in all the big and little things (whatever He gives me the opportunity to do).

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