Friday, August 19, 2011

The Cancer Circle

Just about exactly a year ago, I was at the Surgicenter in Greenville, NC undergoing the final stage of the reconstruction process following my mastectomy.

Today, I’m headed there again. Same place. Same surgeon.

But different patient.

Steve, Sarah and I will be there today to support a woman in our church (she’s our bookkeeper and also active in music and drama ministries) who is having a mastectomy after a recent breast cancer diagnosis. Her daughter will also be there with her—a daughter who had the same surgery (by the same surgeon) about two years ago.

So. One mother/daughter cancer team will be there to bring hugs and prayers to another mother/daughter cancer team.

Our family had so many people support us during Sarah’s cancer treatment, and so many others support us during my recent cancer treatment—what a joy and a privilege it is to be able pay it forward, to be able team up with the next person and in line and say, “You’re not alone; we understand what you're going through and we'll be with you every step of the way.”

The cancer circle. What a tough and beautiful place to be.


I want to leave you today with something to make you smile; something that just makes me want to jump up and say, “Hooray!”

(But I’d probably pull something, so I won’t.)


(By the way, I didn’t take this photo. Although I wish I had!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yes, I’m Spoiled

Early this morning, Mr. Nikon and I took a bike ride and these were the sights we were privileged to see along the way.

I am not just blessed with beauty, I am downright spoiled.

And I am grateful.























Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pineapple In The Passenger Seat

Monday I got home from work at about 4:30 and ran inside the house to do a few things before leaving again to take Sarah to a drama rehearsal at church. Total time inside the house was about forty-five minutes.

When it was time to head back out the door again, I walked to the minivan parked in the driveway, opened the door and prepared to get in. But something in the van stopped me dead in my tracks. Something in the van caused me to pause and to ponder.

And just what was I pondering?

I was pondering leaves. And twigs. They were scattered all over the seat and floorboards of the driver’s side. And when I glanced over at the passenger side, I saw even more leaves and more twigs.

And also?

I saw (and pondered) pineapple chunks. Yes. Pineapple chunks.

They were lined up carefully like yellow mini colonels all across the front passenger seat.

I thought for sure I was hallucinating. I mean, you know how we menopausal women have hot flashes (AKA power surges), occasionally lose track of our common sense, and sometimes misplace our emotional equilibrium? Well, it seems to me that when all those things are going in one’s person, having momentary hallucinogenic moments would not be entirely unheard of.

So I continued to stare in bewilderment at the gathered, mysterious materials while waiting for Sarah to come out of the house and open the door on her side; I was interested to see whether her eyes would behold the same thing that my eyes did.

They did.

She took one look inside the van and said, “Mom? There are leaves all over the floor over here. And there are, um, pineapple chunks in the passenger seat. What’s going on?”

I knew not. And I told her that I knew not.

I informed her that I would remain outside to guard the crime scene while she ran back inside to get Steve. I wanted to see if for some unfathomable reason, my husband may have come outside during the short time I had been home and placed little chunks of pineapple in my van.

He had not.

And so the mystery remained.

Sarah and I, with puzzlement furrowing our brows, cleaned out the assorted piles of twigs, leaves, and pineapple, got in the car and drove away, shaking our heads in mutual mother/daughter bemusement.

After dropping Sarah off at church, I went on to the grocery store and was just about back home again when Steve reached me on my cell. He said, “The mystery has been solved.”

And here’s what he went on to tell me:

After I had left the house with Sarah, Steve was sitting on the couch watching the news. He heard a tiny, timid knock on the front door and looked through the frosted glass to see the outlines of two people on the front porch. Two very short people.

Puzzled, he got up to answer the door.

There stood two blond buddies from the neighborhood, each about five years old, accompanied by the dad of one and the mom of the other. The boys were scuffling their toes along the floor of the porch and looking everywhere except at Steve.

The mom said, “Boys, what do you have to say to Mr. Smith?”

And standing there on our porch with the bashful, baleful Pineapple Perpetrators, Steve got the most awkwardly dear apology. They hesitantly told him that they had put some stuff all over our van, they were sorry about, and they would clean it up.

As he listened, Steve couldn’t help but think that the whole scenario was about the cutest thing he had ever seen; in fact, he had a hard time not bursting out in a delighted grin during the boys’ speech. However, since they were just about in tears during their recitation, he maintained a suitably sober expression until they were done. Then he knelt down to their level, shook each of their hands and said, “I forgive you.”

He went on to tell them a story about when he was a little blond guy about their age and stole some flowers from his neighbor’s yard. His mom escorted him to the front door where he had to offer his own little boy apology. And so the three of them had a meaningful moment of male bonding—courtesy of their collective criminal behavior.

When all was said and done--apologies made, stories told, hands shaken, forgiveness offered--our wee neighbors departed with clean consciences and joyful hearts. A happy ending, to be sure.

When Steve had finished recounting the story to me I smiled too, because the whole incident was just so dear. And as I started making dinner, I continued to think about it. It occurred to me that those two little guys must have felt quite a sense of accomplishment when everything in their little escapade went off without a hitch. They had come up with a plan of placing weird objects in a neighbor's vehicle, they had accomplished their stated agenda, and most importantly, they had made their escape without getting caught.

However, they had forgotten to plan for one thing. They had forgotten to plan for a guilty conscience—a conscience which would compel them to feel an unexpected twinge of remorse, leading them to a full confession.

I also mused about how easy it would have been for their parents to have brushed that confession off and tell their sons, “You didn’t hurt anything on the car and you didn’t do any damage so let’s just not worry about it. Besides I’m tired from work and I really don’t feel like going over to the neighbor’s house and making a big deal out of this.”

I mean after all, scattering leaves, twigs and pineapple in someone’s minivan is not generally regarded as a precursor to a life of crime and debauchery.

And yet those boys had done something they knew wasn’t right. Their consciences had clearly told them it was not right. And thankfully, they had wise parents who honored the message of their consciences and gave them the opportunity to set things straight--with their neighbors and with their own hearts.

In the broken world that we live in, it’s good to be reminded that tender hearted five-year old boys are still knocking on doors, still taking responsibility for their misdeeds, still expressing remorse for wrong actions. It’s also good to be reminded that there are still parents who care enough about their children and the molding of their children’s characters to encourage them to make things right--even when it doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal.

Because it is a big deal. Doing the right thing is always a big deal.

And as long as there are people who believe that, there will always be hope for this world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Kids of Cancer

While I’m hard at work on a new post called “Pineapple On The Passenger Seat,” I wanted to bring to your attention a comment that came in a few hours ago. I can’t tell you how much it touched my heart.

Lisa from Georgia wrote, “I am so happy to hear that Sarah is turning 16.
I must admit a few tears filled my eyes when I think of my Sarah. I wonder if people realize what a miracle Sarah really is...of the 18 NB (Neuroblastoma) kids that we knew through treatment, not one of them is still alive one made it past 6 years!

My Sarah would be 17 so the time is about the same as far as treatment and what they were doing. Sarah is truly a miracle and I am so thrilled to know that she is thriving and embracing life. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!!”

Lisa, I am amazed at your generous heart; I am amazed that you are able to read this blog and see all the stories about Sarah and wholeheartedly rejoice with our family over our daughter’s survival--even after losing your own precious Sarah to cancer. Your attitude and sweetness of spirit truly humble me.

As we head into Sarah’s 16th birthday week, I am reminded again of how far she’s come. And I’m also reminded of how many cancer families don't get to celebrate the unfolding of their child's lives.

Lisa--my heart is with you and I join you today in remembering your own lovely Sarah.

treatment collage

Monday, August 15, 2011

Questions. Comments. And A Few Pictures.

It just occurred to me today that I have so many comments/questions to answer that I could actually make a whole post out of them!

And so I shall.

Before I proceed though, I want to thank you all for rejoicing with us over Sarah’s birthday celebration and the miracle that she is. We are so incredibly grateful for her sweet, zippy presence in our lives and in our home.

For her actual birthday, her Grandma and Grandpa Smith will be driving over from Charlotte--a mere 750 miles, round trip. Since they’re the only family members we have that are less than 900 miles away, we’re especially thankful that they so cheerily put forth the effort to be here on this special occasion.

And speaking of special occasions, I have pretty much run out of pictures of Nathan and Meagan’s wedding. However! In a week or two, we will have in our hands a disk containing the bazillion pictures that the professional photographers took; I promise that I will work very hard at narrowing down the thousand (or more) pictures to just a few dozen (or so) and will post them in the weeks to come. So for those of you who love wedding stuff, there is more to come!

Which actually leads me right into the comment/question section of this post because the very first question is about Nathan and Meagan.

Mary H. said, “How are the newlyweds?”

Well, Mary, to answer that question, let me share a recent Facebook post from Meagan,

Going for a swim, playing two games of ping-pong, eating a homemade dinner for two, and watching a movie in our pj’s--a PERFECT evening with my husband at home!! :)

Reading that made me smile and get kind of choked up all at the same time, just thinking about the fact that “the husband” mentioned in that post was my very own (previously) little boy! It’s wonderful to see them so happy together.

Jenna said, “I am curious- what is a salt marsh?”

Jenna, this link about a salt marsh explains it a lot better than I could; in fact, I wasn’t really sure of the answer until I looked it up. What I do know is that we have a lot of them around here and they are truly lovely.

Here’s a shot I took of one on a recent bike ride with Sarah.

spring break bike ride sarah

Caroline said, “Happy early birthday Sarah! Is she going to start learning to drive?”

Sarah was eligible to take Driver’s Ed last year as a ninth grader but opted not to. And may I just say that I was not horribly disappointed by that decision; isn’t it true that no parent thinks her child is ready to drive?

Her plan right now is to take Driver’s Ed the second half of her sophomore year; then she’ll get her permit and will need to have that for at least a year before getting her license. My mommy heart is very happy that it will still be almost two years before she drives by herself.

What’s sort of funny is that I waited until I was eighteen to get my license and Nathan did, as well. I guess we’re just a family of late blooming drivers.

Dana said, “The Birthday Hat???? They all look so pretty and grown! I can't believe 16 already. When I read the earlier post and realized Sarah was about to be 16 I really think I got 4 more gray hairs right then. Time is flying! I mean really, I was floored when Nathan graduated college! I really do believe he must have done an accelerated College Study because it didn't seem as he had been gone that long. I'm trying to wrap my mind around next Wednesday my baby boys will be turning 18yrs. is there a way to slow any of this down?”

Dana, you are one of several readers who was observant and noticed the absence of the famous hat. She will be wearing it on her actual birthday.

As for your question about, “Is there a way to slow any of this down?” I think I have some bad news for you. And for me. And all of us moms. Because the answer seems to be no.

Which just means we will be all the more grateful for each precious chapter along the way.

Janet said, “Becky: I am a long-time follower and some-time poster. I absolutely love your hair--especially the "shortened" version that you had at Nathan's wedding. Is there any way you could send me a picture of you (front and back) that I could take to my hairstylist? I would have no idea how to explain it to her. I know there is a way I could just "take" the pictures from your blog--but I wouldn't do that without asking permission first--if I even knew how to do such a thing. Thanks for your help.”

Janet, thanks for the hair compliment; I appreciate it so much! You are more than welcome to use a picture from the blog to show to your stylist; just right click on the photo you want, choose “save image as” and choose somewhere on your computer to save it to. (I usually choose the desk top because it’s easy to find there.)

Lisa said “How tall is Nathan? He does not look that tall when he stands with his wife but in some other pics he looks really tall.”

Nathan is right at six feet tall and Meagan is about 5’6” or so. On their wedding day, she had 4 inch heels on, so that was probably the reason he didn’t look quite as tall standing beside her.

Trine (from Denmark) wrote, “I have a very weird request, but you would make my day .... can you re-post a old picture with Sarah? the one I am thinking of is from 2006, you were on holiday and in the background there was a elephant made out of a towel . I have been having that picture in my head for a few days I would love to see it again :)

Trine, I emailed the photos to you but thought it would be fun to post them here as well, just to give us a little peek backwards down memory lane and see what our soon-to-be-sixteen year old looked like six years ago. These were taken at a hotel in Cancun where we went on a sponsored trip similar to Make- A- Wish. Sarah was so delighted with the towel animals and I’m sure was thinking to herself, “I bet Mom can fold our towels at home just like this!” (ha)




And since I have a few miscellaneous pictures of Sarah that don’t fit anywhere else, I’ll stick ‘em right here before moving along.

This is outside the restaurant where we had Sarah’s birthday dinner. We had gone there a few days early to check it out and noticed this really cool old camera welded to a piece of metal. I was enthralled.


And I just want to make a pronouncement that we really do go to the beach every once in a (great) while. Well, actually, Steve and I just go to walk but Sarah goes along with Taylor’s family occasionally and enjoys hanging out near the waves for an afternoon.


Catherine asked, “ How many were at this wedding, Becky? I think there was a lot more than "a little creativity" going on here. Everyone did such a wonderful job. Were the flowers real or silk or a mix of both? I really like the colors Meagan chose.”

I believe there were around 150 there. The flowers were a mixture of silk and latex. I had never heard of latex flowers, but I found out that they are incredibly realistic.

Sharon said, “I absolutely love the dress but having trouble figuring out from the pictures what the true color is. Some of the pictures the dress looks purple and yet in other pictures it looks more of deep pink or fuchsia color. I'm just amazed that you actually went to a real store instead of your usual consignment store shopping. I know how you like to save.”

Yes, I agree that that was a hard color to pin down. On the web, the color was called “pretty in pink” but to me it looked like lavender.

I actually did look at a couple consignment/thrift stores for a dress because I would have been so pumped if I had found one. Unfortunately, the ones I found that I liked weren’t in my size. (One of the few drawbacks of thrift store shopping is that there is only one size to choose from.)

I’ll close with a comment Sue G left several posts ago because it is just so dear and it made me all happy-hearted to read it. Thanks Sue, for so beautifully expressing your heart through words.

You know, it has occurred to me that there is not one person in your family about whom I don't feel warm and fuzzies, about whom I don't like to read, about whom I don't look forward to learning more about them. You have shared so much over the years that no matter what is going on in their lives, I want to hear more about it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

I originally thought you started a blog because you wanted write. I now know that you started a blog because you wanted to write about these special people. I am confident that they are wonderful examples of all that God wants for us, and it warms my heart to call them "family" in all the wonderful layers of that word.

Thanks, Becky. It takes a special person to open up her heart, her home, and her family with us. I can't tell you what it means to me that you do that.

And may I just mention that Sue (whom many of us recognize from her poignant comments here and on other blogs) has been through quite a lot of cancer-related challenges lately. Stop by her website to read her amazing writing about incredible hardship and even more incredible faith.