Thursday, September 30, 2010

WE HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN 'NOTICE'


Hello there everybody...

SATURDAY 2nd OCTOBER 2010 is...
"LIVE STRONG DAY"
Time is precious!!!
...so I have decided to put up my post today and to leave it up for a few days...

It is a long post, but an important one, so I hope you will accept this.
With much love

MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA

---xXx---


A 'LIVE STRONG' Experience
...written by Caryl Moll

“Don’t go home! Change direction NOW!”

It was a hot summer morning in 1997 and I was en-route home from my weekly shopping errands. A little ‘voice’ in my head kept urging: “Don’t go home! Go to Mike’s office now!” It was a really strong gut feeling but it wasn’t something that generally happened to me and I was a bit taken-aback.

Ironically, I had never before been to my husband’s office as he’d only been working there for a short time period so the whole notion didn’t sit too well with me. I am a nervous driver at the best of times and really didn’t want to drive to a place where I wasn’t sure of the directions. But the desperation of my gut-feeling persisted.

One thing I have learned in life however is to always to trust my gut-feelings. They have never let me down and it is wise not to ignore them!

“Okay, I’ll go! What harm can there be? ” Despite having a busy day ahead of me, I decided to oblige the ‘voice’ so I turned the car towards the onramp of the highway.

It took me a while to work out where I was going and I had to consult the map book, but I finally located Mike’s office and pulled into the adjacent parking area.

“I wonder how he’s going to react with my sudden appearance.” I thought to myself as I grabbed my bag and locked my car. “Oh well, I’ll simply insist on a cup of tea - if it’s all been pointless and I’ve been mistaken!”

I was a little nervous, because Mike’s days were usually hectic and there generally wasn’t much time to spare for socializing. I was also reluctant to disturb his busy schedule, but I couldn’t ignore the ‘voice’ that seemed to be shouting at me with escalating urgency. However, I had to admit that this visit was a little out-of-character for someone like me.

A pleasant but rather bored-looking receptionist gave me directions to my husband’s office. He was head of the financial department and most people knew him.

“Just up that way…” she directed.

I walked along the corridor and nearly tumbled over my husband as I turned the corner. He was on his way to see one of his colleagues.

“Hello…? Wow! ” for a moment Mike was routed to the spot, but then he hugged me. “Geesh this is a surprise! What has brought you here?”

“I’m not sure, love! I just had this strong feeling that you need me! Are you okay?” I asked.

“Of course I’m okay! Are you okay? But, yes, this is a nice surprise!”

“I just had this strong feeling that I need to come to you. It might be nothing, but I thought I’d come anyway. Are you sure you are okay?”
“Everything is fine, but since you are here, why don’t we grab something to drink…it’s nearly tea time. You should do this more often!”

"Aren’t you busy?”

“Ummm…don’t worry! You are not inconveniencing me! I enjoy a surprise!”

He ushered me into his office, indicated a seat and disappeared for a few minutes to get us some coffee. He returned with two steaming mugs, gave one to me and walked around his desk, shuffled some papers and sat down. It felt rather strange to be sitting on opposite sides of a desk to my life’s partner. But he’d hardly settled when his phone rang.

“Mike, this is Dr Griffin speaking.” The voice on the other end of the line said. “I am sorry to trouble you at work, but I need to speak to you. Do you have a minute?”

“Yes doctor! What can I do for you?” my husband said tentatively.

“I have something important to tell you!” My husband gave me a questioning look.

“What is it?” I mouthed to him, but he shook his head and directed all his attention to the voice on the other end of the line.
“Are you aware that I have been treating your Mom for cancer?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, I am aware” Mike’s voice held a hint of concern

“I believe that you are also aware that we stopped her Chemotherapy in October last year?” the doctor continued.

“Yes, mom told me. She told us that the medical specialists had said that it was no longer necessary. We have believed that she is in remission”

“Well, I’m really sorry to tell you that your Mom hasn’t been entirely honest with you. She has asked me to phone you because she doesn’t want to do this herself.” My husband’s entire attention was now focused on the conversation.

The doctor continued, “You see, she isn’t in remission at all! The reality is that there is nothing more we can do for her and she is, in fact, dying. As you know, she is a very strong woman and she really didn’t want to worry her family unnecessarily, so she has kept the gravity of her condition a secret. But the reality is that she has very little time left and that is why I am phoning you.”

My husband’s face turned snow white as he tried to absorb the shock. From across the desk, all I noticed was that he was struggling to comprehend whatever it was that the doctor was telling him and was simply shaking his head as he looked at me.

“How much time does she have left?” my husband’s voice was shaky. Now I too was really concerned and suddenly I started to realize that there was indeed a reason why I had been brought to his office this morning.

“Well, we will be lucky if she makes it until the end of the month...” The doctor said gently.

“But that’s only two weeks!” Mike was struggling to keep calm.

“I have contacted Hospice on her behalf and they will be visiting her in the next few days …. and will be making contact with you too. They are wonderful people and will be available to answer any questions which your family might have in the days ahead… I am really sorry to be the bearer of this bad news, but I feel it important that the family know this. You are her family and she will be relying on your support in this last phase of her illness.”

“I really can’t believe this! How can this be? We really thought she was well again and that her recovery had been a miracle. Over Christmas she had told us that all was okay. I had no idea…..” his voice trailed off.

“Yes,” said the doctor. ”She is an amazing woman. I am really sorry!”

“Okay Doctor, thank you…” Mike eventually said.

“If you have any questions, just give me a call!”

“Okay Doctor, I will. Thank you for telling me.” Mike put the phone down and turned to me.

It was obvious that something was gravely wrong and I got up from my chair. I went around his desk and put my arms around him.

“What is it?” I asked as I’d not heard the conversation.

Mike repeated all the doctor had told him and together we hugged each other in a state of utter disbelief. Our mom was dying and there was nothing we could do to stop the process.

---xXx---

Later that day, our family congregated at Mom’s house. We were all experiencing a surreal world of shock, disbelief, denial, anger, heartbreak as well as the final realization that there was absolutely nothing more that we could do for her.

But perhaps there was?

Surely this was the opportunity to love our dear mother for all that it was worth?!

Since we were helpless to change the course of her illness, we were encouraged by the amazing people of Hospice to embrace every moment we had left with her. In essence we had also been given an opportunity to help each other face the gravity of our situation – together - and to find new meaning to our own lives and to our relationships.

In those few days, whilst my mom-in-law was dying, all of us – including her – were able to find new strength in our journey together. We spent our days together, chatting about old times, future hopes, her own wishes for after she had gone and we also spoke about how to make her comfortable in her final moments. We laughed together, we cried together, we ate together and we prayed together – we were one! Death itself had given us this gift – a realisation of the fragility of life and an urgency to live it to the max!

Initially it took incredible resolve to avoid falling into the dark crevasses of despair, but ironically those two weeks, were to become an amazingly enriching time in our lives. They also provided the foundation I personally would need, thirteen years later, when I received Maxdog’s terminal diagnosis. Yes, they were hard times and extremely painful days, but they gave us the opportunity to love one another to the absolute full!

---xXx---

The news of an inevitable death is something nobody wants to hear! But in all the sadness there is the hope that the devastation can be turned around into something positive.

*What a blessing it is to be able to take each day and celebrate it!

*What a blessing it is to be able to take each hour and celebrate the opportunity of fellowship with loved ones!

*What a blessing it is to be able to appreciate each minute, each moment, each second!

For a while time does seem to stand still – simply because you are absorbing, relishing and experiencing each millisecond for everything that it offers. It is the utmost expression of ‘Carpe Dieme’ and we were blessed to have that opportunity.

Nine months ago, when Maxdog also received his devastating diagnosis, I had already been primed to this paradigm. The memories of that special time we had spent with my mom-in-law came flooding back and it was a reminder that it was time to appreciate every moment again. Each of Maxdog’s 107 days of Grace was lived to the full and I can honestly say that we...
 LIVED STRONG!
In the end we were blessed with far more days than we had ever anticipated and what a blessing that was too!

Both these ‘notice periods’ have led me to ask the questions:

 “Why can’t we treat every day of our lives like this anyway?”

“Why can’t we ALL live everyday as if it is our last?”

The answer is:

“There is no reason why we can’t!”

To the Cancer sufferers out there:

*Thank you for teaching me to seize the opportunity of each day!

*Thank you for allowing me to experience life to the Max!

*Thank you for being such incredible role models in what it means to

LIVE STRONG!
Together we can all reap life for all that it offers.
I love you all from the bottom of my heart and I am with you in this journey!


(*Kindly note that "Mike" is not my husband's real name*)

28 comments:

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

WOW!

We are so lucky you've posted this special collection of personal experiences -

Inspirational in so many ways!

Thanks for sharing

AND

Hugz&Khysses From Here to all of You!

K-9 Katastrophe said...

Thank you for sharing this! What a beautiful story.

Licks,
Ruthie

Amy and The House of Cats said...

Oh what a story. Cancer is just such a horrible disease but it is good to hear stories like this - the ones about living life to the fullest, even if it is only for a short time. It is a good lesson for all of us!

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan and Bibi-Chan said...

Thank you for this post. In this, as in all things, we always need to remember that the only time that truly counts is now. The most important thing in life is to love those we love with every particle of our being right this very minute.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

A beautiful story and reminder Caryl--I lost my own Mom almost 3 years ago to cancer and know this path all too well. The sting of the loss and the journey never goes away...

Junior and Orion said...

Another amazing post from you. Thank you!

Sheila and Bob said...

Thank you so much for this post, we lost our beautiful daughter-in-law Jennifer to ovarian cancer November 8, 2009.
Jen was diagnosed in August 2008 and up until the final two weeks of her life, she did truly "Live Life To The Max.
Don't take anything for granted, we never ever thought of the changes all our lives have taken.
Hug your family, tell them you love them, Hug your pets and walk with God.
Sheila & Bob

KB said...

That's a beautiful story. Lance Armstrong himself says that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to him because it made him value each day of his life. I find that I've learned the same thing from my medical adversities - most days, it helps me rise above the "stuff" that can hold me back.

But, how I'd love for us to find a way to cure cancer. My mother would be 74 years old if she's survived her cancer 22 years ago. Both of my dogs who succumbed to cancer would have certainly lived longer lives. It's time for our best scientists to figure this out!

I wear a Livestrong wrist band that I put on my wrist the day that my yellow lab, S, was diagnosed with cancer. Although he departed more than a year ago, I can't bear to take off the wristband. I wear it for him and all others who have suffered from this disease. Believe it or not, I had cancer at age 18 - but it was a curable thyroid type. I was lucky - I hope that others can be too. Or, better yet, maybe luck won't be needed someday.

Here's to your mother-in-law and to MaxDog.

♥I am Holly♥ said...

Thanks for sharing your story. That is a very inspirational post. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

Maggie Mae said...

MaxMom,

Tank youz fur sharing dis wif all of us. :)

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

Tessa the Maltese said...

Beautiful, just beautiful.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Peace, Blu

Jake of Florida said...

Caryl,

Thank you for this. When the time came for my mother to die, I was woefully ignorant of what you just described and have always felt as though I failed the test. As we humans often say, I wish I knew then what I know now.

Bless you for being so open and helping us to learn what you yourself have learned.

With love,

Joan

sprinkles said...

Thank you for sharing such a touching story.

KT and Lady said...

Thanks for opening up your life to get home an important point. My wife showed me how to live strong by her example when she beat cancer. Devo, like Max, lived his life and days of grace just as he lived his whole life. I am in awe of them both.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

What a beautiful sharing!!! Cancer is an insidious disease that seems to have touched almost everyone is some way. Your message is a good one.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

houndstooth said...

Hospice really is a wonderful thing. Your post reminded me a lot of our experience when my grandmother was in the last days of her battle with cancer, too. I'm glad you had those last wonderful two weeks together!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Maxmom
Thank you for leading the way and taking us on your journey,,,
This is a powerful, beautiful story that you shared with us.
Sometimes we need to stop and then allow ourselves to listen. To find peace when there seems like there is none, because our hearts are fluttering so fast from fear.
Your words ring so true. If we could learn to enjoy each day to the fullest..... to grasp the time we have left and run and enjoy life,, even in its final stages,, just like Maxdog. Maxdog lived life to the fullest.
Thank you for taking me by the hand and leading the way.
love
tweedles

Maggie and Mitch said...

What an absolutely beautiful post! Thank you!

MySpecialDoggies said...

Hi Caryl
Thank you for sharing.

My Apples is living life to the Max - even though the decision to let her go is looming shortly. She has graced my life for the last 5 years - learning that life is good and fun for a doggie after 10 1/2 years of neglect.

Woofs
Nadine Apples & Neeli

Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

Thank you for sharing such an amazing and wonderful post for LIVESTRONG Day. It is deeply sad, and yet wonderfully happy too. You are so right ~ we should all LIVESTRONG every day ~ not just October 2nd.

MaxDog was a wonderful inspiration to me and mine and we will never forget how he LIVED STRONG.

I had surgery on my arm this week and it is in a sling and painful ~ or I'd say a lot more. As it is THANK YOU will have to suffice ~ but it is from the bottom of my heart.

Jan
With love also from Milo and Alfie xx

Ginger Jasper said...

Oh how you moved us again with this story of Living strong and you are so so right. We should live each day like this. You are an inspiration.. With love Carol and GJ xx

Mrs. JP said...

Wow, I am constantly amazed at how God speaks to His kids. Aren't you glad you listened to Him and were there for your precious hubby? I am.
You have told this story so well that I want to link ours to yours so others can be blessed by this.
So much love to you, my friend, from all of us in the holler.

meowmeowmans said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

caboval said...

Im totally speechless, your story paralles my own story with my own mom. And I lived each day with you as you announced Maxs illness. It made me hug my babies each day and be so grateful for what I have. Thank you!!! Hugs Joey and Kealani and Valerie

Scout 'n Freyja said...

We LiveStrong with you and we StandStrong with you in the battle against this horrible disease and in honor of the valiant soldiers who have rode into battle to beat down this detestable foe.

God bless all those who have lost their battle with cancer, the Hospice angels who helped to care for them and the families left behind who mourn their loss.

ZOOLATRY said...

Wonderful...
you have left us little to say,
but LIVESTRONG, each and every day, in every possible way.

Becky said...

indeed -- the way to live each day. thank you for sharing. our missy pug died today.

Sue said...

Thank you. When we lost our beautiful boy Monty to lung cancer we only had a few days. It's still almost too painful to talk about and I miss him tremendously.