WELCOME TO OPERATION OBLITERATE
Do you remember the 1994 movie, “The Shawshank Redemption”? Tim Robbin’s character is a banker convicted of murder, sentenced to life in prison in Shawshank State Penitentiary. It is a story of justice and friendship and struggle in brutal and dehumanizing conditions.
In the scene below Andy Dufresne (Robbins) comes back to lunch with his friends after a stunt he pulled that involved playing music for the whole prison that got him two weeks in solitary confinement, in ‘the hole.” He reflects on the power of music to get at matters of the heart, things the stone walls and prison guards can’t touch – something resembling hope. Then Morgan Freeman’s character looks Andy in the eye and says, “Hope is a dangerous thing.”
Here’s the link to that great scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDGNsbLayJw
It has been a really good week. We came home from the hospital on Monday and instead of going up for a nap, Heath ate lunch and hung out with us downstairs. Playing with the dog, walking around and checking on things. We had the privilege of a few nights in a row where no one had a meeting, so we really could take our time, eat dinner, walk the dog. The dining room table had become a pile of mail and boxes and medical supplies, the detritus of life in the hospital, so she took some time to reclaim the space. We got a little sleep, and had the chance to take a breath.
Tuesday I had a handful of work meetings, which felt nice, normal, even. Advent approaches, after all. Wednesday I took him to the clinic for labs and a magnesium infusion. It seems like we’re going to need to be doing that every other day or so for the duration. We got home by 1 and could eat lunch on the porch. Wednesday and Thursday were stunningly beautiful days, and we could open the windows and sit on the porch and really feel like we had our feet underneath ourselves. Thursday Heath requested an outing (the first real non-hospital outing in some months), to the farm of our friends Donnie and Ashley and Shelley. He wanted to go see the barn kitties he and Wilson have made friends with over the years, but he really wanted to check out the farm equipment. Carrie took the boys and said he had wonderful energy – they hung out for a few hours, WAY longer than we expected. He drove a golf cart around for a bit and said the picture below is from far enough away he’d allow us to post it. 😊 It was so exciting to see how well he felt. Sure, he’s still pretty weak, and we have a ways to go, but it was a glimpse of something special.
But, as Morgan Freeman says, hope is a dangerous thing.
We are starting to feel like we can see something resembling the finish line of this particular season. Yes, once you have had the ‘cancer’ word said in your presence, I don’t think you ever fully stop thinking about it. We still have a pretty significant abdominal surgery ahead of us that we are soon to schedule. Then we’ll have a long runway of building strength, trying to get him back to school, while still managing his ongoing concerns that won’t go away. This isn’t something that will be “over.” But, on Monday we’ll be admitted to 5200 and begin what we pray is round 6 of 6 of this chemotherapy regimen. Then we’ll schedule scans to see where we are. Heath is steady and strong, and his spirits truly have been remarkable. We are starting to hope.
But immediately after the hope enters one’s mind also comes the questions. The doubts. What if the doctors are wrong? What if it’s not all gone? What if we have to start this all over again? Getting the wrong answers to those questions becomes really difficult to think about. So we’re wrestling with this conundrum right now, as we walk the dog and rake the leaves that KEEP falling. We’re sitting here at the clinic right now with another magnesium infusion happening. He did some school work with his extraordinary teacher and friend Rachel, and now we’re finalizing fantasy football decisions, and thinking about where we’ll grab lunch on the way home. What does it mean to try and hope when you’re beginning to think you *might* make it through this part? Or what does it mean when you’re afraid to hope because the alternative is crushing? I suspect all of you reading this have had some experience like that in your life. It’s tricky.
As Thanksgiving week approaches we’ll do our best to be grateful for the privilege of hoping for what might be on the other side of this. Wherever you are, and whatever celebrating looks like for you, I pray you’ll have just a moment to smile and give thanks for the people that surround you – on the good days and on the days when it feels like it is all falling apart. I can promise you that we’ll be giving thanks for you.