Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

December 25, 2011 brings the sixty-second Christmas season into my life.  Each Christmas season uniquely different, painted on my memory canvas with the bold broad strokes of life's experiences. As I reflect on my journey through the Christmas's of my life I can not help but notice how much has changed along the way. 

As my youth gave way to adulthood, my vision of Christmas matured and I grew in the understanding of the multi-layered complexities of the Christmas season. Six years ago this Christmas season, our lives changed forever with the first diagnosis of Brain Tumors in our family.  In those dark moments, we learned that the important gifts of Christmas were not in the packages under the tree. The gifts of Christmas were in the love shared among family and friends.

Two years later, Sheila faced her first surgery days before Christmas.  Christmas Eve found us home with a morphine ball and drains throughout her surgical sites.  She asked me to carry her to the car and take her on our annual Christmas light tour. I drove for hours through the neighborhoods of Dallas while Sheila, under the strong influence of morphine, pronounced it the best light show she had ever seen. Life can not change because your situation changes. Love is eternal  and endures all hardships.

We have continued with our annual surgeries and treatments throughout the years. As the years past,  Sheila and our grandson, Carson, have each fought their battles with the enemy cells that reside in their brains. Both Sheila and Carson are well this year, but, on constant guard for future invaders.  The brain tumor that remains with Sheila is our constant reminder that life is precious and should be celebrated with love of friends and family. 

Our family's battles with Brain Tumors have brought to us our most precious Christmas gifts. Gifts given to us by friends and family  long seperated in time and distance, but, connected in memories and spirit. The best Christmas gifts we receive come from the kindness, compassion and love given by those who live to love and in return love to live.

After all, Christmas has never been about the gifts that the wise men brought.  Those gifts were precious to the wise and wealthy people at that time.  They were a tribute to a future King. The true gift of that original Christmas was the gift of love and hope given to each and every one of us. The birth and life that we celebrate on every Christmas is the gift to each of us of unconditional and pure love. Forgiving and encouraging love offered to all, and received by anyone who reaches out for it.

The gifts that have meaning are the gifts of love, because "God is Love". For anyone who chooses to read this note, our love is offered to you and your love is  welcomed.  Our hope for you is that the gift of love comes to you this Christmas and bestows upon you the peace and happiness you deserve.   Have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Family Tumors

Sheila and I are often asked, “How do you handle the day to day tension of the Brain Tumors that are constantly present in your family?” 

Usually we reply that it is impossible to relate the feeling to those outside looking in.  My thoughts returned to that question this past weekend.

Sheila and I sat staring at her new CT brain scans and comparing them from the previous years.  Her brain has been our focus each September for the past four years. We worried about the progressively deteriating left side and the speed at which it propels us down our path.  Brain tumors change your entire outlook on life.

This weekend, we sat in silence, eyes fixed on the increasingly widening cavity on the scan. Each year, even though we know it is there, we are stunned by the expanse. It is a sight you never get use too.

Suddenly, she looks to me and murmurs, “You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to see that!”

There is little else we can say. We are speechless.  Soon we become aware of the long, deep breaths that have automaticly kicked in to slow our pounding hearts.

Soon, her warm engaging smile thaws the icy silence, “It’s a miracle I still know you!”  She says.

I feel a tear streaking down the front of my cheek. “I love you," I reply.

No more words are needed. Silence lingers in the air, thickening the mental fog spreading throughout the room.

 “How does a family deal with a brain tumor?” A friend once asked.

We hold on tight and savor the moments. Moments so sweet and so precious that tears of sadness and tears of joy entwine as they make their way down our cheeks.  Love each other and always believe in the miracle.