Sunday, July 25, 2010

Endings, Transitions and Beginnings

Ever felt like your life was at a crossroads, but you didn't really know why? Life is full of changes. Some of them are welcome; some are frightening; some you just don't know what to do with.

I sit here at my computer this Sunday evening keenly aware of a lot of things going on in my life and in the lives of those around me. I am three radiation sessions short of completing my prescribed 45 for treating prostate cancer. Thirty years ago when my father had been diagnosed with this condition, at this particular stage of time his cancer had moved into stage 4 and was clearly terminal. is clear that that is not the case with me and I am grateful for that.

What is interesting is that I am feeling very much like those times that I graduated from college and graduate school...they were both very intense times of  hard work that ended with reaching a desired goal...a degree so I could get on with the rest of my life. However, when I finished both of those degrees there was a void that hit me. My time had all been consumed with reaching a goal...but once I got there the only thing that resounded in my thoughts was: "Now what?" or "What's next?" I remember how those thoughts echoed around inside my head much like hollering at echo point at the Grand Canyon.

Drew and Allie in DC
Regarding the cancer, I really have no idea what is next except that I have to continue taking oral meds to suppress hormones until March of next year. I am looking forward to some symptoms hopefully getting better. I have heard it said that I wont feel "normal" again for maybe a year. Others have said different things, so I have no idea what is really going to happen. I am still going to be forced to take it day by day and continue to be grateful for every day.

Allie, my baby girl, is moving west to San Diego to go to Law School. Drew and I are moving her out there the first week of August. I have always felt a sense of peace having her around with her occasinaly sassy attitude. She has certainly made a lot of choices that I wouldn't have made...but she wouldn't be Allie without that. This is the first time she will really be flying on her own and I trust she will be okay...but I wouldn't be a daddy if I didn't wish she was going to stay closer to home. I have no idea what is going to happen in her life from this point on....but like everything else, I have to take it day by day and continue to be grateful for what I have received in life from her. That said, my heart is breaking.

It is a new beginning for her and that makes me joyful. It is a difficult transition for me...and that leaves me with a true sense of grief and loss. But that is how life is. One has to set it aside, man up and move on...taking one's broken heart with him and trusting it will be healed down the road.

My co-workers at work have been wonderful and amazingly patient with this old man. Working in a government bureaucracy has its good and bad points. The people I work with are all wonderful...the kind of people you want in a foxhole with you when the bombs are falling all around you. 99% of them are wonderful. The other 1% are the price you pay for the other 99%.

The bad about working in a setting like that is centered about those times when the people who should take responsibility for their decisions (or lack of them) refuse to do so and let things grind to a halt when they should move on. So much of what I have to do is dependent on other people that I never meet or talk to and don't have a clue about how their actions (or omissions) affect the ability of others to do their job correctly.

My work is the biggest constant in my life. It almost never changes and I know what to expect. As frustrating as it can be at times, it helps to balance out all the change and transition and trauma that I experience in the rest of my life.

My Church used to be the real anchor of my life...but there is so much transition, adjustment and uncertainty there it has lost that steadfast quality for me. Have I lost faith? No, not at all. It is the institution of the Church and its structure and mission that is in a phase of transition...not the faith behind it. I still consider myself to be a United Methodist Christian in the theological and liturgical sense...but the larger connectional institution is sick and in need of overhaul. The day I walked into a large UM church here in San Antonio that was set up with television lights...complete with an flashing applause sign on the was clear to me that something was terribly, terribly wrong.

So many changes. So many adjustments.. It has felt at times like I was in the middle of a huge earthquake with the ground constantly shifting under me. The love of God is still there, though. My faith,  friends and my family are there. My wonderful 7 year old Jack Russell Terrier named Pippy greets me at the door jumping for joy every day. My 14 year old Lhasa Apso is behind him...moving slower but still there and wagging her tail. I am grateful that all of these things have kept me focused on the goodness of life here lately. I have needed it.


  1. As an English teacher, let me say that you write beautifully. As a fellow cancer survivor, let me say that I understand about your anxiety about the future and the hollowness that comes with the territory. Too many questions, not enough answers. I hope that both of us find the peace we need.