Sunday, January 13, 2008

Flood of Emotions

I woke up this morning, thinking about how humbled I am by the grace of God and the goodness and generosity of so many friends. I have a wife whose health is returning, super children, good friends that I know are good friends, and a job I simply love. It's humbling, and I'm grateful.

As Will and I headed to church, humility continued to dominate my thoughts. Today is Day 95 post Dori's bone marrow transplant, and don't think Dori and I haven't been counting off the days to Day 100. By the time Will and I sat in the pew, I was a little emotional. By the time the gospel was read (about John the Baptist humbling himself before Jesus before baptizing Him), my emotions were heightened. When Deacon Jim McKenzie started his homily with the word "humility," I was more than geared up, I was tearing up.

Deacon McKenzie defined humility so well. It's not self-centered piety and it's not abject submissiveness (that's more like humiliation, he said; it's interesting I found one Catholic dictionary that defined humility as pertaining to lowliness and submissiveness). He said humility is centered aroung loving God, more along the lines of praise, service and adoration.

He struck a chord mentioning Abraham Lincoln's letter to General Meade after the Battle of Gettysburg ordering him to finish off Lee's Army. Lincoln noted in the letter that the glory would be all Meade's if he won; if Meade lost, Lincoln said he would take the criticism. He told Meade to destroy the letter if he won and publicize it if he lost. Lincoln's humility was a significant reason why he's my favorite president.

The offertory hymn after the homily was "Center of My Life," which is a song of praise and love for the Lord that He is and will continue to be at our core while we're here on earth. By the end of Mass, I was a mess, overcome by joy and humility.

There are many people who have supported me and my family the last seven months. They also have shown humility and love. They'll go nameless on this blog, but two of them are a couple at our church and school who worked to ensure my children had a seamless year during this ordeal. I approached them after church, and it took me a minute or two to gather myself as I told them how much I appreciate them. I told them cancer, as much as I despise it, has given me a view of life I never would have had otherwise. I said Dori and I are in a better place because of it. I cried as hard as I've cried since Dori's diagnosis in June.

Another remarkable supporter is a good church friend with whom we socialize every month or so in a couples group. I saw her and some of the group after church, recounting the awe of the day still with the edge I was carrying. A few of them had spoken with Dori on the phone earlier in the week, remarking how strong she sounded and how they were looking forward to seeing her soon.

When I got home, Dori knew something was up. She asked me what had happened, and I said it would take time to explain, so she said let's sit down. As I recounted the morning and told her how I just can't believe she's still here, I started to cry again. Kathryn walked in the room, and Will followed. Dori and I then shared times with the children that were very difficult for them and for us. Dori remembered one Sunday last summer when Will simply refused to leave Dori's room. He cried so hard that day that it hurt Dori and another leukemia patient who saw him as I carried his limp body off the 11th floor. That's the day I told Will in the parking garage that yes, "This sucks," and he has a right to feel the way he does. "I feel the same way," I said.

I recalled the evening of July 4 after the party at my Mom's. We joined Dori around 8:30 that night to watch the downtown fireworks from her window. That's not how things worked out. Will and Kathryn wouldn't stop crying from the minute we arrived, so we left. Will didn't stop crying until he went to bed. I asked Kathryn if she remembered the times when she asked the frank question, "If Mommy dies, [insert question here]?" I remember thinking each time I fielded that one, "Lord, are you kidding me?"

I've been told this blog can be almost too personal to read at times, but trust me when I say it's been a place for me to do a lot of good, like express my gratitude or educate people about leukemia, or even to vent. It's certainly a place of personal reinforcement for what I need to be doing through this subsiding storm. If the blog is too intense, I figure people can opt out and stop reading. That said, I've had many people tell me that reading CaringBridge and this blog has helped them cope with something difficult in their lives or awakened them to the fragility of their own temporal existence. That must count for something.

1 comment:

Donna Clements said...

Jim,
We feel so honored to be a part of your lives and it has been such an amazing experience to walk through this with you via this blog.
As always your writing is eloquent - and picturesque.... and it doesn't hurt with the many references to running and Vanderbilt.
Know that Dori and your dear family are lifted up in our prayers every night.
Peace, health, and love to you and your amazing family,
donna (and co.)