Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I have now had two days with some semblance of a routine. Treatment, walk on the Greenway, lunch, face time at the office, then home. I'm not so sure that I can keep this up, or that this best serves my needs. Treatment aside, each activity is something I want to do, but put it all together and it feels like a lot right now.

What I feel like I am most lacking is a place of peace - the place I want to go when I am too tired to do anything else. I nap, I meditate, but that does not fill the time. I love to read but have had a difficult time focusing on the many wonderful books that surround me. Television is not my thing, and although I love movies, I can only watch happy ones, and for just so long. It probably does not come as a surprise to any of you that prior to this fiasco that my preferred leisure activity involved movement of some sort. Bike, paddle, run, walk, snow ski, water ski, almost any type of exercise that tickled my fancy. I've never been a triathlete, but I always enjoyed the heck out of a day on the Nantahala, the ski slope, or biking the Greenway.

Cause for complaint or new opportunity?

Is my challenge due to a genetic time bomb or life lesson needed to be learned?

The result of environmental negligence or pure, unadulterated fate?

Many times over the last weeks I have been asked about my faith, and about my belief in a higher power. Of my friends, family and acquaintances, I can only predict with absolute certainty the response to that question from my dear friend MS. (I am confident that you know who you are and I don't want to single you out without your permission.)

Clearly, this is my journey, not yours. But, I must admit to being curious to see if there will be any serious and/or insightful responses to these queries. This topic is not meant to embarrass anyone, or elicit reluctant responses. I do assume, however, that these are not original questions, and that all of you have pondered these, or similar themes during your lives.

And, any suggestions for sedentary activities are more than welcome. Except needlepoint. Yuck. Sorry Vicki, but needlepoint is also not my thing.


Charna said...

You've been in my thoughts daily.
Many of the same hard questions have crossed my mind since I found out about your illness, and I don't have an answer except to say you shouldn't have to be going through what you're going through.
There may not be any answers to what you ask right now, just questions.

I really appreciate that you're sharing this adventure and letting me into your world. It has been so comforting to know you have such wonderful support of family and friends, and I want to help any way I can. Looking forward to your updates and even the hard questions. Love, Charna
PS - Isn't the correct spelling T-R-Y-athelete?

Steve Beagle said...

Ali - I have a lot to say regarding your questions but I need some time to cogently get it right so I would like to ask the court for a short recess in the meantime let's roll..

Have you heard the latin motto - "Volvo, Video, Velcro" aka " I came, I saw, I stuck around.."

A little boy is called up by his teacher. " This essay you've written about your pet dog," says the teacher. " It's word for word exactly the same essay as your brother has written." " Well of course it is" says the boy, "it's the same dog."

If a word in the dictionary were misspelled - how would we know?
( Stephen Wright )

A prominent plastic surgeon was asked if he has ever been asked to do anything unusual. "No," replies the surgeon. " But I have raised a few eyebrows.."

In memory of one of my favorites George Carlin - " If the bouncer gets drunk, who throws him out?"

A man goes into a pet shop and asks for 15 cockroaches, 35 termites, 12 wasps and 3 mice. " What do you want all them for?" asks the shopkeeper. The man replies, " I'm moving out of my apartment tomorrow and my landlord said I have to leave it exactly the way I found it."

Say goodnight Steve - goodnight Steve

Josh Denys said...

Hi Elyse,

Peace is life and life is everywhere when we take the time to notice it- delicate sprouts of every kind of plant, fungus, bugs, huge majestic trees, the elements that are not life in themselves but are necessary for all life, your child growing into a man, your parents growing old, mountains being pushed ever so slowly into the air and at the same time washed down, viruses and bacteria that use us temporarily for their own survival, all of the plants and animals that we consume to temporarily sustain our own lives, the way that all life interacts to form living ecosystems and living planets, the way that all life dies and that death is part of the cycle of life.

Your predicament is certainly cause for complaint. It is something that has happened to you against your will. It isn’t fair for your life to be so rudely interrupted. Complaining doesn’t solve the predicament however and there are doubtless many lessons to be learned.

The “why” questions can be asked and pondered but not answered with credibility. The issue of faith attempts to answer the unanswerables and we all decide for ourselves to what degree we choose to take comfort in those stories.

Have you considered gardening? Gardening is in many ways a celebration of and interaction with life.


Michael said...

Hey Couz...

I think of you everyday. I'm with you.

Here's a suggestion for you, if you have the strength to do it. Volunteer. Give your time to a cause, a person, a thing. It may put things into perspective, and it helps to get you "out of your head." Especially when you don't need to be there. That may prove valuable now.

G-d teaches us lessons, and, as far as I'm concerned...gives us only what we can handle. Nothing more.

Love you.

Anonymous said...

Yes. (And we actually have to have this conversation in person to explain what THAT means.)

But here's my favorite quote that I try to remember when the questions are hard and the answers nowhere to be found:

"I beg you . . .to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them, and the point is, to live everything, live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
~ R.M. Rilke

Balance. You'll get back there. But starting to ask the questions is the first step in living your life, not just letting it happen to you.


Angie Weiland said...

Hey Elyse,
I have been thinking about you daily and staying updated on your "big adventure".

I have ponder the same questions you are asking many times in the past several years and really haven't come up w/ many answers, just more questions. Sometimes I find it is better not to think too hard about the questions, but continue enjoying life and learning from your "unsolicited" experiences.

As far as passing the time, I know you love to cook, maybe that can help pass the time. I am w/ you when it comes to movies - only happy ones, not sad. What about books on tapes?

One thing I always tell the families I work w/ is, it is ok to have a bad day, crawl in bed, cry and sleep the day away, but when morning comes, you must get out of bed and continue living.

Take care and I hope to see you soon.


Michael said...

A follow up to a previous note.


Something else to help with the passage of time...journal, journal, journal. Write your experiences down.

Heck, write a play or book! Could make for some great entertainment!@@!

Love ya lots.

Chris Cleary said...

Looking for a sedentary activity? Seems to me that you have a knack for writing. Rock on, Chris

Anonymous said...


When I got hit by the cab in November I went through similar issues. At that point I was running every day, playing golf or tennis every day, and skiing monthly. When I was suddenly confined to no activity for 6 months, not being able to walk more than 20 steps, and undergoing two separate surgeries in 6 months, I was beset by incredible depression.

I was too tired and unfocused to read the 2 or 3 books I would read each day and I watched TV because it took no effort. When I realized I knew the name of every Judge on TV divorce court, etc, I knew TV was not the answer. I found myself relying on a lot of phone calls with friends, visits by friends, keeping a journal, and just very unfamiliar vegging.

I spent a lot of time on my back porch just watching the world go by. Another help was a good therapist to talk to.

The best advice I got was to realize that the depression that comes with these life challenges is normal. You ride it like a wave and it will pass. One friend told me that I needed to step back and realize that one benefit of the experience was an appreciation for the friends and relationships I had. Until these moments we don't often appreciate the depth and numbers of the people we have touched.

Your job right now is to get through these days. It is not easy.
You have to settle for the little things each day as you go through this. That can be as much as simply waking up each morning. It is better than not waking up.

My pleasures of running every day were replaced by the pleasure of being able to sit on a porch and drink a cup of coffee each day. At least I wasn't at the Shepard Center each morning.

We type A's aren't wired to endure these challenges. But we have to.

That may not answer much for you, but I hope it at least gives you something to read.

Joe Rosen

Ann said...

We all wish we had clear answers for you, but of course no one does. I firmly believe that even though at times it may not seem fair, life gives you what you can handle. The going may get tough, very tough, and we may not understand the reasons, but things do happen for a reason. You need to understand how much caring and support is surrounding you, and just enjoy the beauty of each day. You have a loving family, adorable dogs, and a gazillion friends all who care about you. Don't worry about the why...just focus on getting through each day and getting better and taking care of yourself.
As far as home projects, going through and organizing family photos(I can hear Ruth laughing now!) is always on my list....not too relaxing but a constant chore. This takes energy and feeling up to it though. Otherwise, I would try to read and enjoy Brent before he goes back to school.
Hope some of this helps.

Bridgette said...

I am a terrible writer-- however, had many thoughts and feelings while reading your questions. I hope I can verbalize my thoughts briefly on this blog. Your questions may not be original but certainly important to you now and to others that have dealt with tragedy in life. Regarding your questions about God and life lessons —I personally don’t believe God intentionally provides illness and terrible life events (rape, child abuse, etc.) as lessons but they are merely part of our human experience while on this earth. In the process we learn lessons, we rely on and come to a greater understanding of God, we see compassion first hand from friends, family and care givers and we dare reach out into the world and trust strangers that we would have never otherwise met. We begin to understand what humility really is, what faith in others and a higher power really looks like and we begin to see our purpose while on this earth more clearly. We put things into proper perspective often and change our priorities to more meaningful events to us personally. We begin to realize we are stronger than we ever thought possible right after we feel the greatest despair. It seems to be a refining process almost.
Your questions and comments led me to believe that this experience is becoming very real to you. That you are in the beginning stages of suffering. Suffering can be characterized as acute or chronic pain, the strain of trying to endure, the alienation of forced exclusion from everyday life, and the uncertainty of anticipating the ramifications of illness. As you share your experience with all of us, you are trying to make sense of what is happening to you. This type of narrating is a great form of therapy. I am sad that this is what you have been given to endure, however do not believe that there is negligence on your part or cause for the illness that you could have somehow prevented.
I wondered as you spoke if you’d drawn any parallels yet to grief with illness and grief of clients while dealing with divorce? Loss seems to have similarities regardless of the event. Thought I’d give you a writing topic since the consensus is that you’re a great writer.  Sorry this is so long! Love ya!

Karen said...

Hi Elyse,
It's Karen. You are so brave to share all of your thoughts- your moments of strength, fear, anger...all of the emotions that play into this unbelievably horrible and unexpected diagnosis of yours. You ask the questions, yet we all know there are no concrete answers. But what has helped me get through the seemingly "impossible", is as you've experienced; sharing it with nature...sometimes with a loved one, and many times, alone. Just quiet, introspective moments..taking long walks on a beach, hiking in the mountains..and really focusing on the butterfly fluttering around you.
There was a vista in San Francisco that my Aunt took me to after we both had suffered a major loss; my mother, her only sibling. We ate gourmet sandwiches at the edge of the top of a mountain overlooking the breathtaking Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate in silence (yeah, really).....and it was truly a life-altering moment that I'll never forget (I actually tried to speak, and my aunt just shut me up and said, "No words now honey. Let's just hold hands and have our own silent prayers". I felt that for the first time EVER,

I was as close-to, and in-touch with God as I ever would be. It didn't happen anywhere else for me, and in a strange way, it was one of the most magical, memorable experiences ever. Then(5)years ago, my now 80-year old Aunt lost a good part of a lung as a result of lung cancer. She is now a 5-year lung cancer survivor..AND a "Lung Cancer Coach" in Miami. She's one of the strongest women EVER, besides you Elyse!! I have all the faith in the world that you too, will beat it...and teach it! Always,

Lorie said...

Hey Elyse,

Your questions are SO understandable. I wondered how God could be loving and benevolent and still 'give' my son cancer. After much anger, consideration, and finally acceptance I came to believe that God didn't 'give' it to him. It wasn't an easy nor a short journey to reach that conclusion, but that is where I got - and for what its worth, I hope it helps.

Being (nearly) on the other side of that journey, I do see many benefits (if you could call them that) of our "becoming members of the club that no one wants to join." Chiefly amongst those is the realization of how many good people there are out there in our world, and how its not nearly as dire a place as the evening news paints it to be. This journey will change you - heck, I didn't have the cancer, and it changed me. Life is more precious, people are more important than anything else and love, friendship and comraderie gets us thru what seems unsurmountable at times.

You have many people out there loving, supporting and praying for you, John and Brent. May we all be the wind beneath your wings on tough days, provide laughter and smiles when you don't think there are any left, and wipe away your tears of frustration when things quite simply - suck.

I still remember Stacy telling me early in our journey - "You will have days when you can open the sunroof (or put the top down) while blasting The Boss on your stereo, and you will have days when you can't even listen to music" - that is the nature of the rollercoaster of this journey. I hope you have far more days of blasting the Boss and enjoying the wind on your face.

Be strong, we are here for you, whenever and whatever you need.

Big hugs,

Rachel said...

Your questions, and your need to find a new way to achieve peace demonstrate strong emotional and spiritual health. And that will get you through.
I agree with the gardening suggestion. It doesn't have to be large scale landscaping, maybe a few pots for your deck that you can plant, water, and tend to each day. It is so rewarding.
You should also get yourself a set of fabulous Bose headphones and listen to extraordinary music, or books and poetry on tape. We can all send you our favorites.
Also, please find comfort in knowing how many people adore you and are there for you. We are your peace.

Terri said...


You can forget about the question why? It will never be answered. 35 years ago today my 2 year old son drowned. There was no warning, I did not get to say goodbye, I begged God to take me not him. It was not "fair", he was so young. Through it all though, I learned what unconditional love was, how to forgive, how to appreciate the little things in life and I know there is another dimension after this life, we will go where we are supposed to go. Now is the time to take stock of the things you love, concentrate on them and do all that you can to conquer your condition. I have also found , like Josh, that gardening is a wonderful commune with our creator. I marvel at all the species - the form, the colors. the fragrance. I think about you everyday.

Best Wishes, Terri

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this is happening . I have never understood why bad things happen to good people.
We have known each other a very long time so I know you fit into the good people category.
Kicking this mess out of your body is difficult. But with your amazing attitude you will win. What I have always loved about you is your ability to always be happy, always have a smile on your face and always make others feel important.
With your winning attitude your body will respond.
Be strong, keep smiling and kick the sh.. out of what does not belong inside of you!!
I care and I am thinkg of you.

PS Your blog is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...


PSS I love Paul Scheinberg and I love Leita Thompson Park.