Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The long night of the soul.

Life is a strange thing, isn't it? You step onto the path and you can see it winding away among the trees, picturesque and inviting. Then at some point you round a corner and find a tree down over the trail, and it takes some scrambling to get over it. Later, the path takes you pretty close to a steep drop, and you sort of hug the wall on your way past. Later still, you come face to face with a stream, swollen by rain, that has crumbled away most of the path you're following. Getting past is going to take some ingenuity and some perseverance, and not a little courage.

After a while, you start to wonder nervously what else is in store for you. What else will you have overcome by the time you get to journey's end? It's not surprising that we feel a little fearful every time we can't see around the next corner.

My friend has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She is a little younger than me, with children around the same age. I have just spoken to her on the phone - I checked in because tomorrow is her surgery. She's going to have her thyroid removed, along with the tumour that has grown in her throat.

If this were happening to me, I think to myself, I wouldn't sleep all night. I would wander the house like a restless spirit. She says "I won't have trouble sleeping...I'm a good sleeper. I'm already tired."

I hope so.

I remember that Sandy emailed me the night before her surgery. She said
I tried to read. Can't. Tried to watch TV. Can't. Long hours of night stretch before me, and I don't know how I'll reach the end. I think I'll start that blog - how do I get going?  
It makes me think that we are so frail and lovely, we humans. So fragile and frightened. It's terrifying when things happen to our bodies. When we're facing it, our souls reach out. We start conversations. We start blogs. We write letters which we may never send. We crave communion.

C.S. Lewis famously said: You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. 

It's true. And how does this change me? How does this change the way we live, and the way we face our fragility: our mortality?

* * *

Christmas is ten days away. I have gingerbread dough chilling in the fridge.

My tree is up.

I'm happy.

And I'm praying for my friend, whose Christmas has already gotten lost. Next Christmas, may she be up to her elbows in flour, hiding her children's presents, talking on the phone to her sister, and looking back on tonight, thinking 'How long ago it all seems!'

I hope.


My Girls R Angels said...

Beautifully written. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am here after visiting Dave. This is so lovely, what a gift you have. I have felt so alone again this year as my family feuds with each other. It's so so sad, however, where there is life - there IS hope. Thank you for your reminder of what is important, and real. Bless you my dear.

Meriah said...

such a gorgeous post.

audabee_k said...

beautiful post Shannon.....you put into words the thoughts and feelings that are rolling around in me....

Anonymous said...

I too read your blog after Dave gave me an invite!

Todays post rings true for me!
Last Christmas my twin sister had just completed radio therapy after receiving chemo and surgery for cancer.
This Christmas she is up to her arms in flour, and pressies and parenting her two young boys!
Tell your friend the journey is the journey...Recover is around the corner! One day at a time was our mantra!
I will light a candle for her in Dublin....love Linda (LinMac)

Dave Hingsburger said...

well, kiddo, you know what I thought of it ... wonderful thick stew!

Another Joan said...

Keeping you and your friend in my thoughts as I wrap and send to the "children" celebrating their first Christmas in their own home. Bittersweet but all will be well, nmw.