Monday, December 02, 2019

Suffering, Perseverance, Character, Hope ...

In the comics, radiation creates superheroes.

Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and becomes Spider-Man. Gamma Rays force Bruce Banner to become the Hulk. The Fantastic Four were bombarded by cosmic radiation upon re-entry during a space mission. Weirdly exposed to radiation in very different ways, they all became superheroes as a result.

In real life, radiation causes burns and scar tissue.

Maybe I'm just less aware of it, but it certainly seems like fewer people get radiation for cancer treatment nowadays. It seems the focus is now on straight chemotherapy. At least compared to 20+ years ago when my dad did to treat a small tumor in his tonsil. The doctors removed the tumor, the tonsil and a significant amount of surrounding tissue on his neck. The doctors then gave him chemotherapy and radiation to treat the site, to make sure the bad cells would all be killed off. I don't know if back then they already knew it would cause scar tissue bad enough to eventually threaten his ability to breathe and straight up take away his ability to swallow food. I don't know if back then they already knew there would be a possibility of him needing a tracheotomy just to breathe, and that he would have to be fed a liquid diet straight into his stomach via a feeding peg. Everyone was just doing what they could to help get the best outcome, and my dad had to okay with it--or not okay when he was not comfortable with the options -- every step along the way.

Several years after surgery, the scar tissue grew around his esophagus, he lost a tremendous amount of weight. It then began to compromise his breathing. Two days before Christmas Eve he needed a permanent trach tube. It was put in, and our lives significantly changed. Mom became his full-time caregiver, and my sisters took turns. And when his health began to deteriorate to such a point that he became a fall risk, we moved in, so I could also help back up mom 24 hours a day. Everything changed. We persevered.

Suffering is supposed to show you what you're made of. It was astonishing the grace with which my dad (and my mother) handled his immense suffering. He prayed a lot, we all prayed a lot, for God to carry him and all of us through this experience. His continued gentleness and great love for people astonished me still, even as he grew bent over, slept less and less at night, and more and more during the daytime. His character was awashed with Love.

The Hope is that even through suffering, God sees and knows -- and although this is more Catholic than Protestant in mindset --  He can somehow accept our small offering of suffering for the souls of others, as a small, pale imitation of what Jesus did for all of us, to rescue and redeem us from permanent separation from God.

I miss my Dad. He was my personal superhero. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Secrets Out In The Open

If you knew your life is a collection of experiences
designed to help your soul develop--
How would your outlook on life change?

If you knew your life, our lives, this life, all life
was already sacred
and you were made for a purpose, much nobler and good,
How would your outlook on living change?

If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt
that you exist, are alive and conscious,
because you are loved (so very loved!)
Would the steps you take each day be different?

If you knew that your reaction to being alive
your embrace or rejection of that Existence-Love is what truly mattered,
Would you be the same person you are today?

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Grabbing The Vision

2018 was a doozy of a year, and I pray 2019 is better. God Willing, it will be so.

I believe it will. I'm finally getting some semblance of a routine in a seedling form, so I hope it takes root. We had to change routine when we relocated to assist my elderly parents, and that was a major, stressful change. Routine is something I really cherish, and breaking it really made me feel lost. I of course, have been enjoying helping my folks, but I had lost sight of all else. So stabilizing is super-important.

It has helped so much to have reconnected with a group of friends that I had long ago lost touch with. I didn't realize how much I had missed and loved them until we all got together again. Our workplace was unusual and good; and with the 25 years that has passed since, and the perspective, the unusual goodness of the place has only become more stark and obvious. Sometimes you don't know the blessings you have while you are enjoying them or taking them for granted. Ah, youth.

I'm excited though. This past Autumn I mailed out two new mini comics to editors to begin introducing myself as an illustrator and storyteller because I'd like to get back to drawing books. It's easy to get discouraged from doing that when a book you work on gets shelved, but I need to be stronger than that.

A girl can dream. A girl can grab the vision of a bookshelf of books with titles and "by [her name]" printed on the spines ....