It is dawn (around 5 AM) and we are up…normally, I fail to see many sunrises. I am a sunset person as most of you know…but we are awake and it isn’t by choice.

I have just spent the last few hours trying to clear my husband’s PEG tube. It is the tube that was surgically placed in the stomach so that he would not have to have the NG tube down his nose all of the time. And, right now, I am scared and mad as hell.

It seems that my husband added dehydrated onions to his clear diet last evening. That means that these bits of onions swell up and return to a solid piece when they are in liquid….and at 4:30 AM, he woke me up to tell me that the PEG tube isn’t draining and he feels a lot of pressure.

I didn’t know that he “doctored” his soup. I think that he did it when he knew that I wasn’t around. I know that he wants food and he feels so deprived because he can’t eat anything solid. Clear liquids leave a lot to be desired if you have been someone who loved to eat. I can understand that in my head, but cheating like this can be disastrous and I am angry.

I irrigated the tubing and it was definitely plugged with something. When I saw the onion bits return through the tube, my husband confessed his crime. That only made me angrier. I told him that if this thing plugs, there will be a pain that makes all of the other pains look like a walk in the park. I know that frightened him, but I also know that what I said is true…and I know all that was done to get this tube in place and it is all undone over an ONION….

I feel so guilty when I get upset with him. I feel so bad because I know that he feels that this cancer is robbing him of everything that he loves. But, I am still his wife and his nurse and I am afraid for him and the pain that he has caused himself over the sake of “flavor”.

In some ways, ignorance is bliss, but this time, ignorance has the potential to harm him so. It isn’t because he didn’t know in his head that eating things would cause problems. He was instructed. I have instructed him and told him what would happen. It just isn’t real to him until now. Now, may be too late to save the PEG tube.

If this tube fails, he will have to have his NG tube down his nose and I don’t know if they can remove it again. The other risk is that the tumors have grown and closed off the way to the surface of the abdomen and in that case, there is no other options….but if it is an onion problem, then he will have to bear the guilt of hurting himself and me…

I can see him outside walking in the morning mist. I know that my words have hurt him and they also scare him…I know that he is praying and asking God’s forgiveness. I also know that he is trying to walk around to stimulate movement in the digestive track.

Cheating seems so minor at the time. It was too great of a temptation to pass up. But, as in all things, cheating costs a greater price than what is discerned at the time. Ask Eve.

I know that I am thinking of myself, too. I know that if this tube fails, that his care escalates to a higher level. It isn’t that I can’t care for him at that level, it is just more time and more work for me. It is a selfish point of view, but it goes to my desire to keep things at a minimum as along as possible.

We would be at this point at a later date. The tumors can grow and block the tube’s way to the surface of the abdomen and we would have to go to the NG tube to decompress the bowel, but we didn’t have to go there just yet. We could have more time that is unencumbered by all of the tubes and equipment. We could keep things as normal as possible for a little longer.

Now, his grandson, who is coming here for Father’s day will be afraid of him. That tears at his heart.

I don’t know what to do. I have done all that the hospice nurse would do for him…I irrigated the tube with Coke so that the carbonation and the acid would dissolve as much as possible. I hope that he doesn’t become nauseated. That is a sure sign that the PEG tube is closed and will not function….

Time will tell. I can’t go back to sleep now. I will have to keep watch and make sure that I can get to the doctor quickly. I am praying that he will not have to pay the price for cheating. I am praying that God will forgive my anger and my selfishness. But most of all, I am praying that the tube will become unplugged and this worry and frustration will lift off of me and my husband…


We Made It!!!

We made it! 

March has come and gone and his prediction has gone with it…He is still here. In fact, he is in a holding pattern of sorts.

Of course, having the “flu” isn’t good. We are through the “fever” part of the virus. The other symptoms didn’t materialize. I should say, they did not make the appearance that we expected.  That is great, too.

He has complained of pleurisy type pain. The first order of business will be to fill the Rx for the antibiotic. We just have to get through the next 48 hours. The disability money will be in and we can get the medicine filled.  In the mean time, we are taking collodial silver. It was the antibiotic of the 1930’s and it is effective without adding stress on the liver. Hopefully, it is having a positive effect on keeping us from experiencing the usual symptoms of this flu.

Anyone with asthma or a compromised immune system i.e. cancer dreads the idea of having the flu. Others will suffer through it and in a couple of weeks, life returns to normal…what takes two weeks for them takes us a month of recovery.

For cancer victims, the secondary complications that lead to pnuemonia can become the usher of death. So far, he is being very resilient and we are not having the complications, but we are only a week into this round. We must still error on the side of caution.

As for me, I never know which virus will trigger my asthma and I always sit on “pins and needles” looking for the changes that I have come to know too well. I am happy to say that I am not having any asthma symptoms as yet. This is peculiar.

The main complaint has been the exhaution and feeling worse than dirt. My husband battles fatigue from the cancer. I battle it from the “depression”. So, add with it the virus, the world has come to a halt and we are dragging ourselves around this little house like some sort of zombies….

This is the first time in a week that I wanted to sit at the computer and write anything. I am grateful that I have had the desire. If it produces anything, all the better.

Then, it hit me…it is April. We made it!!! March is gone and April is full of many things to look forward to. (for better understanding see the January post where my husband predicts that he will be gone by March.)

In two weeks, the new grandson will be here. His birthday is scheduled for the 17th. (my husband’s daughter must deliver by C-section)

We are having dinner with an old friend next week. Oldest Grandson is in his first musical. (he is in first grade. I am thrilled because I was in musical theater and I am hoping for one of my grandsons to take up the torch and run with music in his heart)

The week following, another friend is in the area for training and she will be stopping by or we will be going to dinner with her. And the last week of April, we have another friend who will be coming here and staying while she works in Kentucky…April is quite full for a couple who usually has very little to accomplish…

It is also the month that I will continue the story of Lela. I am working on the rough draft a little at a time….and I am still researching her life.

I am also continuing on with my journey towards forgiveness. It is important for me to overcome this particular shadow. I understand that it is an ongoing journey, but the major accomplishment is that I want to pursue forgiveness. I had no desire to do this for a very long time.

There is a line in a song by Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton that says, ” When I get where I am going, I will shed the sins and struggles that I’ve carried all these years, And I’ll leave my heart wide open,  I will love and have no fear….”

This part of the song speaks volumes to my hubby and to my heart as well. I just don’t want to wait until I leave this world to accomplish this goal. I want to shed the sins and struggles now. I want to live now with my heart wide open and love and have no fear …

That is my desire. It is so contrary from what my head says. I have lived before with my heart wide open and I have lived long enough to know that leaving your heart so open results in great pain…that is the risk you take when you love.

I am so tired of the pain and the pain brings with it anger. The anger fails to walk alone and brings fear with it. That can evolve into a defensive nature that pushes everything away. Everything like love, peace, contentment, all of these things are kept behind the wall of defense. I don’t want to live like that any longer.

I want the hurt and the bitterness of life’s disappointments to be laid down. Carrying this load is more than I can bear.

Sometimes, it seems like I am walking the Valley of the Shadow as a mule that has one purpose and that is to carry the heavy packs along a narrow trail. I am not as sure footed as the mule. I know that I can slip and fall. I have fallen many times on this journey.

I want to lighten the load by forgiving those who have used me.  Those who have found me not as dependable as they thought I should be. Those who have demanded of me and I failed them. I am weary of bearing the guilt for disappointing them. .

I want to forgive myself and I want to forgive God.

All of these things are in my hopes for April. It will be interesting to see how this month proceeds.

Wait…I caught a glimpse of something outside the window…It is a robin. Wait, I can  smell the earth warming….yes, finally….there are the green sprouts of daffodil…oh yeah!!

It is Spring…we made it!!!! 

In the Shadow of Forgiveness-Part I

In the light of Eternity and in the shadows of cancer, soul searching is an important inventory to keep. Forgiveness is a concept with which I struggle a lot lately.

I have written about some of the difficult times and circumstances in our lives. It is funny that when I write and then read it, I think, “Wow! That is really bad!!”  I suppose the mind is funny about keeping things repressed until the heart and soul can safely handle the intensity of the emotions.

Lately, I have taken time to research “Forgiveness”. I was always taught that you forgive and forget.  Humanly, it is impossible to forget the actions that become like hot brands used on a soul. There are things in my life that seared so deeply into my heart that, if I allow it, I would never attempt forgiveness.

My brother always said that he didn’t get mad, he got even; and he usually did. He, his wife and I discussed a particular vexing situation that he had with the leader of a gospel band in which he played guitar. He had just cause, but because it was a “gospel” band, he didn’t want to act badly. It wasn’t his nature to fly off the handle like “some” of us did. (See me with a halo. *smile*) The longer the situation went, the angrier he got.

His wife and I suggested that his anger might find release if he would write a “hit” letter. That is a letter in which you tell the person how you truly feel about them, the situation, their parentage or anything else you felt inclined to grouse about. I explained that after writing it all down, you take the letter out to the fire-pit or fireplace, light a match and burn it….Not my brother…

He wrote the letter and then he mailed it…yes, he did. Then he proceeded to take back everything, including instruments that he contributed to the band….he was done. He could genuinely smile, greet them kindly and be totally free from any hostility.

Of course, those in the band were quite uncomfortable around him, but they would not engage in such honesty because they needed to keep their “righteousness” intact. My brother knew this. He had already anticipated their behavior. He was free from the anger and he was done with the band…

My mother was different. She would overlook the transgressions over and over until an invisible line was crossed. When the line was crossed,  that would be that. She would never treat the person impolitely, fail to greet them will a “Hello” or say a cross word about them to anyone. However, she was done….stick a fork into it kind of done. There was nothing anyone could say to cause her to allow the trangressor back into her good graces. Done.

The only people that had half a chance to uncross the invisible line were her children. Even for us, it could get to a point that the relationship would not return to its orginal state. She didn’t love us any less, she just didn’t trust us like she did. She forgave you, but she never forgot how ugly your words or your actions were. Her wisdom instructed us that when you find yourself confused, look to the actions. If they were the same as the words, then life was true. When the words walked a different path from the actions, then believe the actions. Actions were more of a true indicator of the heart…I have found her wisdom true.

For me, I can forgive and I can lie to myself and say that I am able to forget the infraction. It is only over time and in my explosion of anger that I learn that I never truly forgave. That usually causes a lot of guilt for me. I always wanted to believe the words more than the actions. In my younger years, I thought my mother was just “old fashion” and the words were more true. Silly, I know.

In today’s society, forgiveness seems to be granted before it is asked. In the justice system, the punishment is abated before the crime is even charged. Forgiveness seems to be considered so lightly and its insincerity cheapens the word and action.

Personally, I truly wanted to forget as well as forgive. I wanted to forget the pain, the humiliation or the fact that someone could be so callous. Also, I believed that forgetting was the way God would have me to forgive. I believed that He would have me “release” the person from the offense and carry on the relationship as if the transgression never occured…that is what I wanted.

Lately, I have learned that forgeting was never a part of the act of forgiveness. Forgiveness did not erase the crime. It released the offender from the punishment by granting a pardon, but the crime still stood.

I also learned that there were three degrees of forgiveness and that there were steps or criteria that had to be met before forgiveness could be granted.

Firstly, the offender had to ask for fogiveness. There was no such thing of talking around the subject or just ignoring that the offense occurred. The words had to be said. My grandfather never uttered the words, “I am sorry” in his long life. When he would gamble or play cards, he would come in the door with a new dress for my grandmother. That was his “Sorry”, but hearing the words was never an option.

The second part was that the offender had to stop doing the offense. Intent was not enough. There is no such thing as saying that you are sorry and then contining on with the offending. That denotes a lack of remorse of any kind or a lacking of change in the heart. No action to follow up the words meant absolutely nothing.

The third component was that they had to make restitution. Something had to be given or an action of some sort had to accompany the remorse. I think that my grandpa went straight to this part of the process….and grandma didn’t complain too much, she just knew that he was guilty.

Without all three components, forgiveness was not to be granted. According to the author of the article of explanation, to grant forgiveness without meeting the criteria  promotes evil in the greater community.  In light of today’s headlines or leading news story, the concept of cheap forgiveness promoting evil makes some sense. The crime still stands and the punishment is dispensed or pardoned in the making of the plea deal. Somehow, we have confused forgiveness with mercy.

When all three components were met, the criteria for granting forgiveness was satisfied. With that satifaction, an obligation to grant forgiveness was required.  To withhold forgiveness was committing a sin or transgression as serious as the original offense. No one could say, ” I’ll never forgive you for that.” if the offender had met all of the requirements.

Accepting that the person satisfied the requirements, forgiveness was granted. It was a moral obligation to forgive. No emotion required. That was the first kind of forgiveness.

The second degree of forgiveness is when the person that was wronged empathizes with the offender. This seems to be easier for some than for other. This deeper kind of forgiveness involves the heart of the one offended and can make life easier on all involved.

The third kind of forgiveness is reserved for God. It is called “atonement” and it is when the crime is not only forgiven after the person meets the criteria, but it is totally forgotten. When it is forgotten, the relationship resumes as if the offense never occurred. Atonement is reserved for God alone because it is humanly impossible to totally forget offenses done to the heart or to whose heart you offended.

After all these years of attempting to grant atonement for offenses when that person never ever admitted that they committed the transgression, I realized that I had it all backwards. That is why I would want to believe that I had forgiven. I confused myself further by believing that I had forgotten the transgression only to act out and reveal that I truly never forgave. I was trying to be God.  No wonder I messed everything up!

I understand that the New Testament teaching doesn’t agree with this concept, but it was a great help for my own understanding. I really had this forgiveness thing warped and I was the one paying and satifying the crime on the part of both parties… Now for the really hard part…

Just how do I forgive???

All I can say right now is that I am working on understanding more about this very important concept and action. The offense held to the heart is more damaging for the one offended than to the one who committed the transgression. I suppose it is like the death sentence that the Romans  pronounced when they strapped a dead body to the guilty person until the decay and bacteria caused the living to die. Unforgiveness is that deadly…

I am still learning and I truly want to forgive. I want to forgive rightly and whole heartedly, but I am still in the shadows of forgiveness…..