Candle of Hope
Ways of Seeing - A Journal


June 29th 2003

It is a bleak, wet Sunday here in Melbourne and I am not long up after sleeping in. I confess my spirits are low and I seem to have taken to bed a bit. Of course it is the right weather for doing this. There is something very comforting about lying under warm covers when it is cold and wet outside. This past week Melbourne has had a severe cold snap and it was not much fun heading out to work in amongst the mist. However, we desperately need the rain so I am not complaining about it being wet. It could be wet for months and I would not complain. For awhile my backyard was a blaze of yellow when all the leaves of the trees turned but now the remaining leaves are looking very sad, grimly hanging on before the last winds strip the trees.

The weather has matched my mood. Darryl began the chemotherapy and radiation treatment last Monday. Monday was a shocking day. We had to be at the Oncology ward at 10:00 in the morning and did not finish until almost 5:00 in the afternoon. Sitting in this kind of environment for hours, seeing so many cancer patients in varying degrees of health, was not a good scene - especially since an insensitive receptionist from the neighbouring Oncologist kept saying to people who were there "thank God you are only visiting" - and the Oncologist she works for actually lost his temper and was throwing things and stamping his feet at a patient who had completely flipped.

Mercifully this individual is not Darryl's doctor. Darryl's oncologist is the kind of person you can fall in love with immediately and when he walks in the door everyone feels calm. Mercifully Darryl's nurse, Rani, was the most efficient in the place and despite a few hitches everything happened relatively smoothly. Once they had the blood results - which bore some quite good news - we went and had the Picc Line inserted.

Darryl was absolutely traumatized by the whole prospect and with good reason. The line they inserts goes right up your arm and down a vein to your heart. That process took over an hour. As soon as that was finished he went into the radiation bunker to be zapped by a machine he said was like something out of Aliens 3. Then we were taken back to Oncology to have the chemotherapy linked up to the Picc line. By the time we staggered out we were exhausted. It took Darryl until about Wednesday to recover from this trauma.

One of the reasons that I have not been writing is that I have been feeling so bleak but I do know that silence really is not the answer. When I finally broke the silence and shared my feelings my email box filled with encouraging words and images, words and images that you can cling to at a time like this. Jenny suggested wearing bright red, fluffy slippers and eating goulash while Trendle Ellwood sent me a photo of a chair that I could sit upon and meditate amid purple cone flowers

Stephanie told me she thought of me and Soul Food when she read these words by Lucy Maud Montgomery. "...nobody is free - never, except just for few brief moments now and then, when the flash comes, or when, as on my haystack night, the soul slips over into eternity for a little space."

The notion of my soul slipping over into eternity for a little space threw a shard of light into the dark space where my soul had been sitting, pining, feeling sorry for itself. It reminded me of the time a woman in one of my writing classes found ten moments of freedom from grief during a guided imagery.

Silently I pulled myself together, packed my bag and took myself off to the pool. I have not swum for a couple of months and as I slipped into the pool I felt my soul was free for just a brief while. For half an hour I swam, rhythmically, thinking of nothing in particular.

The brief moment of freedom was joyous.