Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on Nature

My mom started Chemo last week. The actual six hour session went really well. My mom had no problems with the infusion, she got to chat with other patients, and the nurses even brought them lunch. When I picked her up and asked her how it went, she said she had fun. Not what I was expecting to hear, but a pleasant surprise.

One thing they all told her during the session was that the third day is the worst. Sure enough, by Friday she was starting to feel it, and by Saturday she was sick. Very sick. The best I can tell from her description is that she's feeling an overwhelming sense of fatigue. And, unlike the flu, she isn't tired enough to sleep through it all. So, all she can do is lay on the sofa and watch TV. Even playing on her Nintendo DS is too hard for her.

Part of me feels like the entire world should just come to a screeching halt during all of this. My mom has cancer and she's undergoing chemo and life should not simply just go on. It feels wrong. Why isn't everyone frozen in time holding their breath until this is over?

On the other hand, life does have to go on. I still have a job that I need to do. I still have a family that needs to be cared for. In fact, Michael needs more attention during this time to help him adjust to all the changes this has required from him. We can't just hit the pause button. We can't hold our breath. We need to carry on with our lives as best we can.

On Saturday, while my mom laid exhausted on her couch, we decided to take advantage of the perfect spring day and head to the Morris Arboretum. All of the dog woods and cherry trees are in bloom, and I imagine it was probably one of the most beautiful days to visit out of the entire year.


The Arboretum has a very English garden feel to it. There are gazebos and rose gardens, and a lot of stone walls and paths.


We have had a ton of rain this year, so everything is lush and green. We spent several hours wandering the grounds.

Michael let his imagination run wild. He found "secret paths" around every turn and raced along them chasing some mystery of his own making.


At one point we even had a fairytale story going where Michael started as a lion statue that was brought to life by a fairy. She tapped him on the head to bring him to life, and she turned all the children into lions so they could play with him without fear.


The fairy was particularly enchanted by the pink Dogwood trees and she stopped to gaze at them while her little lion took off down another secret path.

Andy and I drew attention to everything that we thought Michael might enjoy. We threw stones in the streams, pumped water at the log cabin, and wandered for so long that we were all exhausted by the end.

At one point, I discovered a puff of feathers on the ground. I called Michael over and explained that it looked like a hawk had caught a bird to eat. At first glance I thought it was a blue jay, but after looking at the feathers closer I realized that it was most likely a mocking bird.

Michael wanted to know why a hawk would catch a bird so I explained that hawks need to eat, and that they eat other birds. Michael was very sad about this. I tried to explain the food chain to him to help him understand. He picked up several feathers and kept them with him through out the rest of our walk.


Later that night I called my mom as we were driving home from the mall. She sounded like she was doing a little better. She had managed to eat a little and the aching in her shoulders was gone. I asked if she wanted me to visit, but she didn't have the energy for it. Michael did ask to talk to her, and they chatted for a few minutes before he returned the phone to me.

As I spoke with my mom to make sure she wasn't running a fever or experiencing any of the "symptoms of concern" Michael played with the mocking bird feathers from earlier in the day. I hung up, feeling helpless and dismayed. Michael pondered the feathers a little more.

"I'm really sad about the bird that got eaten by the hawk." He said.

"I know Michael, sometimes nature is sad." I replied.

Very sad, in fact.


Janna said...

Beautiful pics of the arboretum.

I'm so sorry that your mom is undergoing chemo. Cancer sucks. My thoughts are with all of you!

LauraC said...

Joanna, this is a very beautiful and touching post. One of my favorites and least favorites at the same time. I hope this time passes by quickly.

JenFen said...

The arboretum sounds like exactly what you all needed. As I have said, being in nature is my church. It is where I best reflect on life, both the good and bad and where I go to recharge. Hopefully, it gave you a little bit of a recharge so that you can both be there and be strong with your mom and continue with the everyday, although I really, really like the idea of the pause button.

My thoughts are with you and your family always. I cannot think of a more true statement then cancer sucks.

Mel said...

The arboretum looks absolutely beautiful. Certainly a bittersweet trip, with the inferences to nature. Hope this chemo flies by for your mom, and that she has more "fun" and less sick. Yep, cancer is a very sucky part of nature.

DesiDVM said...

It seems like they always know what to say without knowing what they're saying, KWIM?

I'm hoping that the chemo goes smoothly for your mom. I also hope you take some time for yourself even though it may seem like you "shouldn't."

Julie said...

HUGS Joanna.