The Place in the Middle
From November 18, 2020
The Place in the Middle
Dear Friends --
Well if you're anything like me, you're probably getting up every day wondering what on earth is going on. We seem to be surrounded by a constant swirl of hope and heartbreak. Depending on the hour, there's either glorious reason to celebrate, or a crushing sense of dread.
A new president who believes in science and healing, and an outgoing president who tweets cruel conspiracy theories.
New vaccines now on deck with breathtaking speed, while Covid caseloads spike like never before.
Sweet and uncanny days with my high schoolers home zooming through their classes, and then the reminder that they're missing precious milestones, like dances and concerts and even all the drama that comes in high school hallways.
The quiet and predictable and peaceful middle place seems elusive during this year, a year we'll forever remember.
And so it was, during this jagged time, that I had my latest scans, just yesterday. My report mirrors our current and constant pivot from "yay!" to "wait, what?"
The good news is that my liver and the rest of my abdomen are in excellent shape. My CEA remains super low -- a marvelous .7, and I feel well. Yay!
The trickier news is that we discovered two new teeny tinies on my lung. They're so teeny tiny we don't quite know what they are, but they are suspicious enough that it was cause for a prolonged discussion, where I frequently said, "wait, what?"
What does this mean? Are we super sad, or sort of, just slightly, mildly bummed? It's hard to know!
What happens next is even murkier. Dr V votes for a complete break from chemo for the next 90 days. He has three excellent reasons:
1) I've had the mother-load of chemo since this whole project started and it does take a toll;
2) It's not clear the maintenance chemo is actually doing anything super spectacular right now;
3) Eventually I'll need to climb an even steeper portion of this mountain, and I'll need to bring my healthiest A game to that project, and prolonged chemo might hamper my ability to regain my best strength.
Yes but what about the teeny tinies? Well, as it turns out, there may be a few new trails on my trek. If the teeny tinies graduate into slightly larger itty bitties, we could step into a season where we play a bit of whack-a-mole in my lung, which is to say small lung surgeries to remove an itty bitty now and again might be my new jam. Or maybe the teeny tinies aren't all that awful and they just decide to hang out for a spell.
For now I've been instructed to go enjoy the next 90 day stretch until we check in again.
Which brings us back to Planet Bananas and the constant tug between "yay!" and "wait, what?" It's not a place that seems all that conducive to the unresolved middle, but that's the space where I'm hoping to thrive for the next 90 days.
The unresolved middle is a constant invitation to bet on the smallest, but most transformative, moments that deserve attention. It's delighting in Connor's college essay, even though he's not been able to have a proper college visit. It's savoring the sounds of 15 year old girls as they swap make up tips and listening to them sing along to "Pitch Perfect" for the 10th time.
It's settling in for a far smaller Thanksgiving, and trying new recipes that may not work out.
It's pausing to savor the sweetness of a fall honeycrisp apple, and the smell of eucalyptus just as the rains subside.
It's smiling through your mask as you greet strangers who also have new puppies.
It's grieving and acknowledging all the fear. And it's giving thanks for the miraculous sunrise that greeted me yesterday morning walking into the hospital for my scan.
The middle place for the next 90 days is where peace can take hold, in those surprising slivers of time in between unbridled joy and awful anguish.
Mostly it's a place for patient, steady, truthful living. I hope you'll join me there.