Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pain Management

Willa and I share pain like a stone. Hers is a boulder of tumor, all nervy sharp edges and colored like the ugly part of deepest mines. Mine was once jagged as well: the pain of fear, the sadness of diagnosis. It settled in my heart. It sank down to the bottom. Over the past two years I have worried it constantly so that now my stone is worn smooth, glossy, oval, almost polished into a gem.

Willa’s continues to grow, it conquers new territories, it takes on her whole body, turning her entire being to marble. It is as if the cancer were some mythological creature, if you look into its eyes it will turn you to stone.

The pain in my heart has almost become another heart, one that sits next to the heart I once had. This new one beats heavier, faster, with more purpose. It hurts, all the time. But it gives me the strength of new blood in the veins, more blood, more ache that tells me my body is still alive.

This past week we discovered that Willa’s tumor is growing again. The chemotherapy is no longer working. Her pain is increasing. Her pain is growing over the back of her head, arching forward over her face, shrouding her in its final awful act.

We have stopped treatment. We met with hospice yesterday. Willa is home and here she will remain. We will do everything we can to dull the edges of her rocky last weeks. We will smooth the path, pushing away the pebbles and gravel, making slick shiny slate out of this last part of her journey.

I can hear the blood rushing in my ears. I can see the blood filling my eyes. I can feel the blood pooling in my organs, overflowing, drowning me in pain. The gem heart splinters, sending off shards to every corner, constant reminder, constant hurt.

Willa and I have shared everything and now, in this new place, I realize she must go forward without me, without her father she adores. She must emerge from her shroud of cancer, hurt, and fear into a place where she will finally be free of all that. A place where she will have nothing to anchor her to the earth. She will be chiseled loose from her limitations and can join the stars, those rocks in the sky, those hopeful far off worlds upon which we gaze at night, in cool air, in hopeful dreams.

Her pain will end but mine will become a forever part of me. I will wear it always, on my face, in my hands, across the years and into the deepest folds of my life. I will wear it like an anchor around my neck, the largest granite boulder possible. But I pray that the effect of this weight is that I may never forget anything of Willa, not her smell, her expressions, her laugh, the color of her hair, the way she uses her fingers to touch, her fight, her grit, her incredible transformative power. Her pain will be shattered so that I may bear it for her and make something of it, use it to remember all the beauty that existed because she was here.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keeping Willa and you in our prayers~

Annie said...

I made it to the start of your last paragraph before the tears came. You do not know me, but I'm thinking of you all and wish Willa peace.

TUC said...

I have no words, just sadness.

Cate said...

thinking of you all.

Goddess in Progress said...

I am beyond sorry that Willa's tumor is growing and causing her pain. Hoping for peace for both of you.

Kami said...

My Heather,

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn't break a little more for you. It seems so silly, so insignificant to say I wish there was something I could do for you, some way I could alleviate even just a smidgeon of your pain. You, Willa and your husband are in my heart. Your strength is extraordinary. And as usual, your words are painfully beautiful.

Love, love, love.

E said...

I am praying that God's mercy will minimize Willa's pain in the days ahead, and grant you, Colin and members of your extended families, God's Peace.

Timp said...

Heather. I am so so so sorry. Feeling absolutely sick reading this. Please, let us know if there is anything we can do. I wish it were possible. I'd dig trenches, attack boulders with a hammer, make gloppy soups. If only... Hold on, and know that you and your sweet girl and her father are loved. Never mind the passive voice (though you're so clearly loved by so many, most of whom I don't know), but to rephrase: I am profoundly sad for you, proud for your heart, and send love to you all. And thank you for sharing this terrible-gorgeous gift of your truth with us.

Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry. There are no words, really. Just to say that I think of you and your little girl very often. I hope you continue to find the strenght and grace needed to face the days and weeks ahead, and for Willa I just hope for peace and as much love as she can carry in her little heart

Crittle said...

If I knew of a way that I could bring the comfort you need right now, I would.

You and Willa remain in my thoughts and I am forever impacted by her.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you and your wonderful family.
-Liz Parker

Anonymous said...

Oh Heather I am so deeply sorry and so deeply moved by the strength that you have. You have always been so strong, almost like you have been preparing yourself for this all your life. Almost like you are the only one who can help guide Willa through this. My heart aches for you and I wish I could absorb some of your pain. Love.

Anonymous said...

Heather you give me amazing strength. I am a foster parent and have had my darling daughter for 2 years. The time has come for me to say goodbye to her. I don't know how I will be able to do that but reading your blog and Willa's caringbridge page gives me the strength to go on. Thank you.
Karen

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned by the pain you must endure. I will pray for you.

The Sanchez Family said...

Reading this again and tears are pouring out. I'm so sorry you and Willa had to endure such pain. I hope and KNOW her last days, hours, minutes were spent feeling your love...the only true feeling one can hope to feel. Willa definitely did with you and her daddy.