Dust Is In The Air.

April was filled with final projects, papers, and exams. I breathed deeply through that last quarter of my first year of seminary – finally giving up the fight for perfection and allowing “done” to be enough. I completed those last four classes (Old Testament, Church History, Introduction to Practical Theology, and Music, Icons, and the Contemplative Life) in triumph. Not because of the satisfactory marks I received, but the sheer realization that a full year of graduate theological studies was complete!

As the school year ended I thought I would write another blog post after commencement, “when the dust settled.” But just as my academic work began to wrap up, health issues that Richard started experiencing in February became more serious. My focus shifted to doctors appointments and then Richard’s recovery from surgery to remove a mass in his right parotid gland (details available on his Caring Bridge). As we waited for the final pathology on the mass, I thought I would write another post after his full recovery, “when the dust settled.” But then Richard was diagnosed with low grade lymphoma.

On the one hand, you cannot know what learning a loved one has cancer will be like until it happens. But on the other, it’s pretty much exactly what you would imagine. Shock. Fear. A boatload of shameless prayer. And a scramble for more information, immediate appointments, and any possible comfort. I thought to myself, “if I can just figure out how to do ‘cancer spouse’ right – this will all work out. Everything will be ok.” Then I thought, “this is going to require a lot more coffee.”

We anxiously set up oncology appointments, contacted family and friends, put all future plans on hold, read about lymphoma, and waited. Cancer requires a lot of waiting. Waiting for appointments. Waiting for test results. Rooms upon rooms dedicated to just filling out paperwork and waiting.

Despite many cups of coffee, a lot of internet research, and numerous conversations with wise friends/family – I did not figure out “how to do cancer right.” Of course, it does not exist. It is simply the fantasy of an anxious overfunctioner. And so is the idea that one day “the dust will settle,” and our lives will suddenly be neatly organized and easily manageable. There is dust in the air. That is life. When it rains hard enough to clear the dust, then you are dealing with a flood. All plans, all of life is contingent. Our reality can change as quickly as the word cancer slips from the mouth of a doctor on the other end of the phone. What we have is the present moment.

So I am writing from the dust cloud. Richard’s PET Scan showed that he is cancer free. The mass that was already removed left behind such a small amount of cancer it is undetectable on a scan. This is great news! And now we are WAITING to meet with a radiologist to see if he will need precautionary radiation or not.

In the present moment we are drinking cardamon vanilla lattes at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters. Mine is hot, his is iced. We will probably get groceries later, sit on the porch with our amazing neighbors, and walk the dog. But who knows – dust is in the air. And sipping coffee across the table from this incredible man is certainly enough for this moment in life.


7 thoughts on “Dust Is In The Air.”

  1. So much wisdom here, Sarah — thank you for such a thoughtful reflection, and for sharing it with so many who know very well what you are describing. You have done it well, and with sensitivity and honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you are proud of the graceful way you have navigated this past year! Your writing has even adopted a more mature tone, in my opinion. What amazing things you have done and will continue to do in this life, sharing your experiences so honestly with your readers. Congratulations on accomplishing your first year of graduate school, all of the scholarships you received for upcoming terms, your success in your marriage, and most definitely the blessing of successful treatment for Richard.
    Love from home,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been fighting abdominal mesothelioma for seven years now with the loving prayers of my priest and congregation. There are many groups for cancer sufferers and survivors, but I have not joined any, finally realizing it was because I didn’t want to make cancer a focus in my life. I still go for treatments every three weeks, but despite all the waiting, when I finally leave the cancer center I hardly give it another thought, continuing on with my day. Living my life as well as I can for as long as I can is my goal. You and your husband are still young and have lots of life ahead of you. Take this disease in stride and carry on. You will be an amazing priest, partly because of what you have learned by going through this time in your life. The peace of the lord be always with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for these words. I especially resonate with, “take this disease in stride and carry on.” Your bravery in living life as well as you can each day for as long as you have is truly an inspiration. It is honestly what we all should be doing. Blessing and prayers to you.


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