Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 6, 2006 - Life, Interrupted

The psychology of this sixth and final chemotherapy treatment is a bit different for me. I know it’s the last of my treatments, but I’m feeling impatient with the whole process, eager to have it over and done with. The chemo side effects, as they start to rise up this time around, are more annoying to me than anything else. I want to just shake them off and go about my daily business, but I can’t.

This morning, Ania is signed up to take her SAT college entrance exams, and Claire has got to go help with a conference her hospice program is putting on, so I volunteer to drive Ania and her friend Jordan across the river to Manasquan High School, where the test is being given. It’s a ritual most college-bound students in America have to go through, a rite of passage. I’m glad I feel well enough to drive the two girls over to the exam, hopefully providing a little parental support along the way. By the time midday rolls around and I get the phone call to come pick them up, however, the fatigue is really closing in, and I find the short excursion a bit wearing. After bringing them back, I collapse on the couch at home, and a little while later go upstairs and sleep away the rest of the afternoon.

I had hoped, this afternoon or this evening, to have the strength to make it to a funeral home in my hometown of Toms River (a half-hour drive from here) for the visiting hours for a special friend who died on Monday. Jane Van Dyke was the widow of Ansley Van Dyke, my home-church pastor for all the years I was growing up. Van and Jane were not only mentors to Claire and me, but were exceptionally kind and encouraging to us as we began our journey to ministry. After seminary studies at Princeton and a year of postgraduate work at St. Andrews University, in Scotland, I served for a time as assistant pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Toms River. Claire and I were over at the Van Dyke home with the rest of the church staff for dinner once a week, and Jane always made us feel especially welcome.

But alas, for me this gathering with special friends is not to be – and probably not tomorrow evening’s funeral service, either. There’s just no way I can make it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Claire goes down for the evening visiting hours without me, and gives the family my regrets.

If there’s any comfort in my situation right now, it’s that this is the end of the chemo. Radiation will bring its own, as-yet-unknown side effects, of course – but I’ve been told they’re not as severe. I’m feeling profoundly tired of dealing with a life interrupted.

For now, I watch and wait:

“ soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.”

- Psalm 130:6

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Carl,

I can't imagine how stressful it must be to work in an oncology office - perhaps this celebration is a way for even just a day to bring some liteness and laughter to their patients and it also provides them with some stress relief. It's a good thing you checked your meds before you left the pharmacy - how frustrating for you that they had it all the time!! We're just a phone call away if you need anything. Hope you feel better soon. Charlene/Harvey