February 22, 2017

Living in the Grey

There is nothing we cannot live down, and rise above, and overcome. - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I don't live in black and white.  I live in grey.  I can't help myself.  I've always been this way.  I have one foot firmly planted into "what if" and "maybe" but the other foot deep into reality.  I'm not rainbows and unicorns.  I'm not an optimist.  I'm a funeral director's daughter.  This is actually true. 

When the Oncologist put her hand over Anton's and said in a somber, quiet voice "I'm so sorry...I'm going to be praying for you" - you really hate that "firmly planted in reality" foot.  Dang that foot.  General oncologists see it all.  All the cancers.  Even she knew, this wasn't good.  This was a difficult road ahead and make no mistake, she felt bad for us.  If that doesn't catapult you into reality, I don't know what will. 
I've gone back to those first diagnosis moments many times in my mind.  The shock, the grief, the despair.  I long to re-write the outcome.  Many times over they had walked into his room and said they believed he had some sort of auto-immune disease, but they weren't sure which one.  At one point they had even ruled out Acute Leukemia.  Now you know why I said in my last post that we were so confused that first week. 

Those sores in his mouth?  They weren't canker sores.  They weren't stress.  They were cancer.  In plain sight and yet no one knew.  They were the actual aggressive Leukemia growing in his mouth.  When I think back on those three months that he had those sores, I cringe in my heart.  Every rinse and gargle and sleepless night he spent, in agony.  In pain.  In exhaustion.  Every meal he tried to eat, and winced in pain as the food hit those sores. 

When I think back over the summer.  How tired he was.  How relentlessly exhausted he was when we took our kids to DisneyWorld.  How he threw himself into his new job with as much strength and will-power and excitement as I've ever seen in him - and yet.  He was pale.  Fatigued.  Running on sheer adrenaline during his first show and the hundreds of hours he put into it.  By Thanksgiving when he told me he was simply too tired to host our annual "Thanksgiving", I should have known.  Why didn't I know?  

Christmas morning, we had so much fun giving each other gifts - something we don't usually do.  He spoiled me rotten.  I cried and hugged him.  And I didn't see it.  I didn't see how truly sick he really was.  How fragile he was in those days.  In reality, and I mean this, how close to death he was.

And then fast-forward just 13 short days.  We had a solid diagnosis.  We had a treatment plan, though we really didn't understand all of it in those moments.  We sat at Medical City Dallas, in that blue and white hospital room, staring at each other in disbelief.  Was this real?  Were we really here?  Was this our new reality?  The grey.  The black and the white.  All the in-between.  Feet  scrambling to find solid ground.  

We cried buckets, friends.  We despaired heavily.  We existed moment to moment.  Chemotherapy began and we met nurse after nurse.  (Was this real?  Were we really here?) Anton had two IV trees at one point.  So many bags going every which way that even his nurses were overwhelmed.  

A storm with tornado warnings blew into Dallas one night and hospital alarms began sounding off instructing staff to help patients take immediate cover.  This meant that Anton, chemo bags hanging, red devil pumping into him, and as sick as I have ever seen him in almost twenty years, had to be moved from his dark, quiet room into the loud bright hallway.  How can he handle that right now, I wondered?  I don't care if there's a tornado.  It'll pass.  We all know it will.  Leave him alone!  I wanted to shout that, but instead I sat quietly in the corner on the cold vinyl couch in his room.  I watched out the large window as the storm approached and then raged.  

Pouring rain and wind slammed against the pane and I thought "That's how I feel.  I feel like our life has become a horrific storm and the warnings are sounding and yet, I can't figure out where to take cover."  Just as they had begun to move Anton's bed out of the room, the code changed back to an alert and he didn't have to be moved after all.  They wheeled him back, plugged everything back in.  After everyone had cleared out and it was just the hum of the machines, I sobbed silently in the corner - knees to my chest, head down.  How do we get off this boat?  How do we escape this storm?  How can this be happening to our life?

Even today, I find myself asking some of those questions.  There are moments I burst into tears. There are moments we simultaneously burst into tears together.  Random simple things will set us off and we cry.  Sometimes we cry and then laugh.  But I'm here to say - Dad and Mom raised me with a solid foundation.  And even as I ask these desperate questions in my darkest moments, I know the answer already!  I KNOW the answer.  I know Him.  We could NOT do this without faith.  I could not get out of bed in the morning without Jesus tugging at my feet - both the grey and the one drowning in the reality of our life circumstance.  He's there reminding me where I go when the storm is raging all around.  I go to the Rock.  

Both of these feet.  Dragging myself to the cross and to God's truth, day after day.  I need you to know that we choose to believe God has GOT this.  And it's not easy.  That means whether the outcome is what we hope for or even if it's not.  It's the hardest thing we've ever done so far.  But friends, we do not grieve as those with no hope!

We are just regular people over here living through an earthbound nightmare.  But GOD! 

We are confused, scared, angry, frustrated, grieving...  But GOD!

I'm so relieved that God can handle all of my anger.  He can take it.    

There is comfort.  There is peace.  There is a sacredness in the broken pieces of this horrible disease.  And it surprises me, because I'm a bit of a Doubting Thomas.  Blame the grey foot.  I can't help it!  My faith is like a sand-castle in high tide some days. 

I don't know what will happen to AB.  We don't know what story God is telling through Anton or our family.  What we do know is that we need to get out of the way and let Him tell it.

On that note, I'll leave you with an old song by Dottie Rambo (old school gospel) that keeps ringing through my mind as I type all of this up.  I know we don't all share the same belief system.  I get that.  But it is such a privilege to share my heart with you.  Thanks for letting me...

Where do I hide till the storms have all passed over?
Who do I run to when the winds of sorrow threaten?
Is there a refuge in the time of tribulation?
When my soul needs consolation, I go to the Rock

 I go to The Rock for my salvation
I go to the stone that the builders rejected
I run to the mountain and the mountain stands by me
When the earth all around me is sinking sand
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand
When I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to the Rock


  1. But GOD! I love that Christie! I am walking through a valley right now that has me stressed and sleepless, but I am going to grab a hold of those two words, and I am going to see them behind my eyelids when I lay my head down on my pillow. And I am not going to worry>>> But GOD! Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. Beautiful words, my friend. Prayers continue for every one of you!

  3. I was browsing my favorites and checking all my blog links when I followed your adoption/family blog to this new blog. I'm so sorry your husband and family has to go through this. Trauma, grief, faith, hope, despair, pain, strength, etc.... Cancer puts you through the gamut.

    I will pray for your husband's healing and to give your family comfort and strength. I will also pray that you and the doctors find wisdom beyond their own that your husband is healed. Lastly, I pray God's will be done and you all find peace in your hearts, whatever His will be.

    Not knowing you personally, I don't know how receptive you are to other information that may help your husband, and I don't want to add to your burden, but I've recently been researching nutrition and healing. I highly recommend to you the information found in the documentary Food Matters, if you've not see it yet. It's a documentary on Netf*lix right now that I've found extremely beneficial. I have adopted four children from China, all with special needs. I feel this information was an answer to a prayer I had I hope it's an answer to your prayers, too and helps your family, if you find you are able to watch it.