Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Friday, October 22, 2010

Without Me...

Jamie just walked in from his "man cave" (a.k.a. "the garage") and said, "You don't have a blog without me, and I don't have a blog without you." Now, this is from the man that still doesn't have an independent email address and claims that computers will only change his life when, "it starts packing lumber into a house." So, he was speaking metaphorically. However, I knew what he meant. We are a team. In everything we do, we are a team.

He is right that without him, I probably wouldn't have a blog. I've always said that Jamie is a better storyteller than I am - he has a more creative voice and way of saying things. Just ask him about the exploding propane tank sometime...

I write a great scholarly paper, which is my strength, though this blog has given me a new voice and helped me discover an inner storyteller. But I know that without my teammate, I wouldn't write in the same way. Not because he literally writes the words, but because he inspires the ideas, the thoughts, the emotion that I find words for. And I know that for him, I take his ideas and help organize them into scholarly words and grammatically correct research papers. So together, we do write this blog; just like together, we live life.

Now, Jamie and I are, by far, very different in many, many ways. He is an introvert and I am the extrovert...he likes to tease me by saying that I have a "daily word minimum of 5,000 words a day" or I don't fuction well. And to some degree he is right. I am the extrovert. I feel energized when I am with friends and talking and having a great discussion. I do, however, find myself less of an extrovert than I have been in the past. I think grief does that - it has the power to change your very personality. I still love to sit and have a glass of wine and chat with close friends, but I don't get the same surge of energy from being in a group of people that I used to. In fact, I kind of dread it because it will mean questions I don't like answering and conversations I'd just rather avoid because they are emotionally exhausting. I'd much prefer the company of a few close friends, with whom no explanation is needed. I never knew just how much grief can change the fabric of who you are until I lived through it.

I know that I am okay with who I am now - I still have moments where I miss the "old" me, mostly because I have moments where I miss the "ignorant bliss" of that life. And after Faith died, I went through a very angry period. I was extraordinarily angry at feeling so changed and different because I liked the person that I was and I knew that this new person was someone different, and someone I never wanted to be. But, now I have found acceptance of this new person. This new person that prefers a bike ride with my husband and an evening at home over a big party; this new woman that would rather get a $25 pedicure with Sarah, followed by a barbeque at their house than go shopping at the mall during Christmas season (kill me now) and a lunch out at a busy restaurant; I actually like this person that enjoys time alone, in my own thoughts, just with myself. I didn't think that would ever happen, but I have realized something...

If I wished to be the old person that I was, I wouldn't know my daughter and have had that experience. And as painful as that has been, I wouldn't trade what we have gotten out of it. Iknow that the man - the teammate - at my side, always has my back. He'll block any tackle, catch any play, and go down in my defense - no questions asked. I believe he knows that I'd do the same for him. I am blessed to have him as my teammate in all that I do...I couldn't ask for a better reason to keep playing this game.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Five Years Later

This morning I sat in a waiting room...I sat, waiting for a nurse to come and tell me "it" was all over. I read a book, watched "The Today Show," and flipped through a miriad of magazines - all the while waiting for that moment. An hour later, the nurse appeared, led me to Jamie and pronounced, "He's doing well. You can go home soon." Sigh of relief...and memories of years past when today felt a million miles away.

Five years ago - September, 2005 - I sat in a different waiting room and a different nurse came to get me. Doctors then greeted us with very different news regarding Jamie's health - "You have a mass in your colon and it's cancer." Just like that - direct, to the point, not great bedside manner. Just like that, our world shifted and for the first time in our relationship, we faced news that would forever alter our lives. At 28 years old, with no previous conditions or family history, Jamie was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

After months of complaining about feeling sick, I had told him to either go to the doctor or quit complaining. So, he went. And a few tests later, we ended up sitting in a curtained off room hearing those words, "You have cancer." We were stunned and left that doctor's office to tell Jamie's parents and make some phone calls. He had a colonoscopy that led to a diagnosis on Tuesday that week. Wednesday we met with a surgeon; Friday he had surgery to remove 18 inches of his colon. In the midst of that, we met with an oncologist and a month later he had a surgery to place a port in his chest wall for "easy" access during the next six months of chemotheraphy. I remember when he was diagnosed, my mom told me, "In a few years this will feel like a blip on the radar." In so many ways, she is right. Jamie responded well to treatment, goes to his follow-up visits with the oncologist, gets his annual tests and screenings, and has - God bless - now been cancer free for five years.

So, this morning - after five years of being cancer free - Jamie had that same port removed that they'd placed there all those years ago. We have become somewhat used to this routine - the early morning arrivals and procedures, the waiting rooms, the curtained exam rooms. And even though my brain knew this was a minor procedure and everything would go fine, I couldn't help feeling a little anxious as I sat in that room and relived some of those moments from all those years ago. Not to mention that we now live in a world where things don't always go the way they "should," I was very relieved to see that nurse's face, calling, "Erica?" And I walked back to that room, where my fuzzy-faced husband sat eating pretzels and sipping apple juice.

As we drove home a while later, I was reflecting on these last five years. We'd been dating one year when Jamie was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, we have endured so much and our relationship is stronger than it ever has been. I know that our experiences have shaped us and strenthened us. I know that some of these experiences are ones we would not chosen if given the choice. But, we weren't given a choice. So we have dealt with life as it has happened. Though some experiences will never feel like a "blip on the radar," it is nice to be reminded that time heals. Time mends. You never forget, but you move forward and let the experience become a part of you.