Thursday, January 17, 2013


2:00 pm

Hi, it's Renee.  Well it's Thursday and my mom is unfortunately still in the hospital.  We're hopeful that she might go home tomorrow, though we've been saying "tomorrow!" for about five days now.  She asked me to bring her more shirts yesterday, and I deliberately brought only two, hoping she'll be home within two days.  She must be getting so tired of the hospital.  I'm getting sick of it and I've been there much less than she has.  To that effect, I had a slightly disorienting experience over the weekend.  I walked from my car into the hospital via the long main hall on Sunday morning and went up to the fourth floor.  When I left the fourth floor on Monday night, thirty-three hours later, I headed towards the same hall only to find a freshly built wall in my way.  You know you've been in a hospital too long when the building's architecture literally changes during your stay.

Anyway, my mom's incision site is healing well, but she's still dealing with bouts of pain, nausea, and tremors from all the meds.  It's awful seeing my mom suffer.  I know my dad, Daniel, and I all wish we could take her place for a while and give her a break.  Unfortunately it doesn't work like that, so we're doing anything else we can to cheer her up and distract her.  Daniel came up with the idea of rationing out all the nice cards my mom's been getting, opening and reading one to her each time she has a small victory or a particularly discouraging challenge throughout the day.  She is so encouraged knowing you're all rooting for her.

Another favorite distraction of hers (and ours) is watching reruns of Frasier, inarguably the best sitcom of all time.  My mom wants me to try to persuade Kelsey Grammar (Dr. Frasier Crane) or David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane) to come visit her.  She says to tell them she has cancer and that they ought to swing by if they're ever in Seattle.  I told her she's not that sick, but nice try.  With the word "cure" being tossed around, I'm not confident we have much pull with celebrities, though I'll at least try to get her an autograph if I ever get ahead of myself.

The good news of the day is that my mom's portacath is now up and running.  This means no more pokes for blood draws!  I think they can give her injections and IV's through it too, but you'd have to ask the science educated members of the family to be sure.  The plan is to start chemotherapy next Friday the 25th.  As I understand it, my mom will get chemo treatments in her abdominal port every week and also treatments in her portacath every third week.  Or maybe it's the other way around.  Either way, we're looking at eighteen weeks of chemo.  God willing, this will all be over in June!

Tangentially, can I quickly tell you about a dance performance I attended a couple years ago?  One afternoon my hippest friend dragged me down to a postmodern art gallery in Georgetown.  The gallery was in a converted warehouse littered with baffling works of "art," like a small TV showing only static, some dangling paper cylinders, and a visually cacophonous arrangement of fluorescent lightbulbs.  We were escorted to a dim back room that looked like a racquetball court and seated in bean bag chairs on either side of a large area rug.  Then--and I promise I'm not making this up--we were each handed a pair of night-vision goggles.  The lights went off and soft music started.  I waited for my eyes to adjust but there wasn't a trace of light to be seen.  So I obediently held the night-vision goggles to my eyes and witnessed something incredible: there in the middle of the pitch black room were three people dancing beautifully to the music.  I watched in awe as they followed a carefully choreographed routine--sometimes dancing together, then separating, then somehow finding each other again the darkness.  It was the most bizarre yet memorable performance I've ever seen.

I suddenly remembered that afternoon yesterday as I was processing all that my family is going through.  I remembered how a few times during that dance performance I put my night-vision goggles down to confirm that this was really all happening in pure darkness.  Return the goggles to my eyes, and there was the beauty.  The lens makes all the difference.  This strikes me as an applicable metaphor to the events of the last week.  Cancer is miserable; caring for a sick parent is hard; seeing pain and exhaustion in the eyes of loved ones is devastating.  But through the lens of our faith, my family is seeing beauty even in this dark time.  Where others might see only darkness, we have already found so much light: we're all drawing closer to God, we're building character, Daniel and I are growing up, we're feeling so loved by friends and family, and we're finding myriad opportunities to share our faith.

I have a new appreciation for the title of the old hymn "Be Thou My Vision."  I pray that God will indeed continue to be our vision in this time of crisis--the lens by which we find beauty and order where there is otherwise only darkness.

Thanks for checking in, friends.  You're the best!


  1. Thank you, Renee. Beautiful. Just like you and your dear family. love to you all!

  2. Sent you an email. Thinking of you all
    Ovca surviver

  3. Lovely and real-- thanks again, Renee! Praying tomorrow Gaby sleeps in her own bed!
    Love to you all!

  4. Renee--after reading this post, I thought to myself--you write in a way very similar to some of my favorite writers--Margaret Manning, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis. Thank you for gifting your Mom with your beautiful posts (and the sight of you struggling to catch a few winks in a hospital cot next to your Mom.) Toes for us very soon! :-) Love, Mom

  5. Beautiful, Renee! I love the metaphor of needing special lenses to see the beauty in the darkness.
    Continuing to pray for you all!

  6. Oh my goodness that was a lovely metaphor! Totally laughed and cried at the same time. Thanks for sharing :)