Anniversary Day — Is it “Happy”??

Dear, dear friends,

I’m going to give you all a little test.  I wonder how many of you can remember what you were doing on July 18, 2012.  I’ll give you a clue, it was a Wednesday — does that help?  OK, here’s another clue, weather was the big news story here in Boston that day.  Check out the news report from that day:

Earlier this afternoon, Boston was issued a tornado warning by the National Weather Service, who forecasted severe thunderstorms, torrential rain and heavy winds for Suffolk County until 2:30 p.m. this afternoon. As the storm rolled in, the sky turned nearly black and lightning erupted from the clouds. The city took on a dark, ominous and eerie feeling this afternoon, as many waited in anticipation of the potential tornado in the Boston area.

Do you remember having a “dark, ominous, eerie” feeling that day?  I certainly do!  In fact, I was having all sorts of feelings, painful feelings, feelings I’d never had before.  Feelings I didn’t know I had in me.  The overriding feeling was shock, because July 18, 2012 was the day I got the absolutely stunning news that my brain was hosting a tumor.  A tumor!  That certainly wasn’t part of the plan — and I had plans!  Good plans, organized plans.  Plans for the new home Paul and I had purchased just six weeks before.  Plans for parties and celebrations with our families.  Then there were my daughter’s plans.  I was gearing up to help Angelique plan out the rest of her academic studies at Haverford College.

I had plans for my parish, Sacred Heart Church in Lexington, where I had recently been elected to the Pastoral Council.  We were in the height of summer so, naturally, I was planning for family fun — for trips to the beach, for vacation days in a cottage on Cape Cod, for music, for sunshine, for fireworks.  And let’s not forget work.  I was actually running ahead of my sales goals and my plan was to make 2012 the year of my ‘big bonus’.  Then there was my sales team itself.  I was the ‘Queen Bee’.  It fell to me to see the “big picture”.  I was the one with the plans that actually had a chance to succeed.

So many plans; but brain cancer wasn’t on any of them.  Brain cancer was a bit of a curve ball.  Even on that very first day I could see that this tumor business was going to put a crimp in my plans; but I wasn’t able (or wasn’t ready) to see that my entire life, my very place in the world — my ‘World of Control’, my modus operandi,  was changing completely.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

So, my beloved friends, we have arrived today at the anniversary of that most remarkable of days, that ‘dark, ominous and eerie’ day.  So, on the occasion of this anniversary, let me propose a toast, a toast to an entire year of battling cancer.  Should I wring my hands?  Should I curse the heavens and say, “Woe is me”?  Is that what you’re expecting?  Well, allow me to surprise you! 

As I come to the end of the year that has been like no other, I find that I am a changed woman.  The Master Planner’s plans have fallen apart, each and every one.  I’ve been evicted from my position of control.  In fact, now that I’ve been evicted, I’m coming to see that I never really did have control — it was all an illusion — it was all smoke and mirrors.  My plans aren’t the plans that matter and they never were.  This was the year I figured that one out.  For fifty seven years before that I didn’t have a clue!

You’ll laugh, but I swear it’s true.  God spoke to me in a dream a few nights ago.  He said, “You’ve been asking me ‘why’.  You want to know why these things have happened to you.  Believe me, it’s all part of the plan; all part of the Grand Design.”

God asked me, “What pained you for all the years of your life?  What was the hurt that never could go away?  Wasn’t it the feeling that you were unloved?  Well, do you feel unloved now?  Do you feel as if you’ve been acknowledged by the world?  What about respect?  Do you feel as if you’re respected, as if you’re a person of value?  Do you feel you make a difference in the world?  Have you figured out how to love without conditions?  Have you learned — finally, after all these years — that you can just sit still and be with me?  That’s all you’ve ever needed to do.  That’s all I ever wanted — even while you were knocking yourself out trying to do everything.”

It’s a funny thing, you know, to receive a message from God.  There’s a feeling of — how shall I say it? — satisfaction.  Deep down satisfaction.  I’ve always had the idea that I’m being picked on.  I kept score of all the ghastly, no-good, unfair, awful, disgusting, heart wrenching things that happened to me, and my ‘scoreboard’ brought me to the conclusion that God had nothing better to do than to kick me around.  How come I never kept score of the good things?  Let me clarify: I never used to keep score of the good things.  These days I see so many things to be grateful for I can’t even keep track of them.

So, I’ve had some bumps along the road of life.  Bad bumps.  Shit happens.  Everyone gets a little good, a little bad.  Nobody gets an insurance policy.  Tragedy comes along, nobody knows why, and nobody gets to make a cosmic claim for damages.  That’s just the way life is, but I’m good with it.  When it comes to life I’m nothing but good with it.

Anniversaries are a time for reflection.  I’m reflecting on the fact I could never have found this road on my own.  I had to get brain cancer.  Now, I’m not saying that the brain cancer is a good thing.  It certainly didn’t make me a hero or a superhero.  It’s just that I’ve become somebody who’s figured out that she has a lot to be grateful for — lots, and lots, and lots.

My heart is open now.  Love is there for me to give and, amazingly, it’s there for me to  receive.  Today I’m going to celebrate what I’ve learned on this journey, and, believe me, I’ve learned what nobody else could possibly have taught or explained to me.  I’ve learned that there are amazing people in my life — and my heart is open to all of them.  For so long, for so very, very long I was terrified of being alone.  No longer.  It turns out that, all this time, I never have been alone.  Not truly alone.  I’ve learned that I’m not being picked out for special punishment.  I’ve learned to be grateful for each and every day.  To be grateful for even the tiniest things.  There’s no denying that bad things come along with the good; but that’s how it is for everyone, and it doesn’t mean I’m being picked on or punished.

I’m no longer afraid of what is going to happen next.  There’s a plan.  Not my plan, God’s plan.  There’s a plan and I’m part of it.  I’m here for a reason.  I’m not here to stay.  Eventually, I’m going to have to leave this world; but the plan is for me to leave this world a better place.  The plan is that the people I leave behind can look at my life and figure out something about their own lives — and to learn what a meaningful gift life is.

I’m still outraged by injustices.  Homelessness.  Hunger.  I’m outraged that we care so little about educating our children.  I’m outraged that we forget that every child is God’s child.  Your child is God’s darling; but so is the child across the street, or across the world.  I’m outraged by the extreme consumerism we rely upon to make us forget that we’ve forgotten how to live.  I’m outraged at war.  I’m outraged that people don’t understand just how important it is to do your job. Yeah, I’m talking to you!  Quit looking for excuses and get to work!!

I’m celebrating this anniversary with the two people who mean the most to me on this planet.  It’s hard to believe, but this has been a wonderful year, and I pray that God will give me another.  But it’s not up to me.  I’m praying that my doctors will find the treatment that works for me, treatment that works to stop the tumor from growing.  I’m praying for myself, of course; but I’m not just praying for me.  I’m praying for everyone who has to face the horror of a glioblastoma.  I pray for a cure.  I pray that you could be spared.

Finally, I can see that I’ve had a wonderful life.  Thank you, God, for taking me on this path.  The path I was walking before this adventure ever started was a path that seemed normal enough; but I wasn’t learning what I needed to learn — I needed some remedial teaching.

Dear God, please bless all the good, kind people in this world.  Who knew there were so many?

God, please give Paul and Angelique the courage and support they’ll need to walk this walk with me.

That’s prayer enough.  I’ve already been given a mountain of gifts, each one more wonderful that the last.  My friends, I want you to know that I’m not going to have any ‘whine’ on this anniversary.  Just gratitude.

Amen.

God Bless.

Happy Anniversary to Me!

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About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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15 Responses to Anniversary Day — Is it “Happy”??

  1. Pingback: [Post from Paul] Who’s Interested? | My Walk With Jesus: My Heart is on the Journey

  2. scaramouche says:

    Our timelines overlap. It is in the same time that my brain tumour was diagnosed before it was surgically removed on the 6th of August 2012. I can identify with so much you wrote, it is learning path into new directions that has since opened up and I am sure will continue to open up. I wish you all the best for you and your family!

  3. Jim Cavallo says:

    What a great message Pam! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your story. I remember that day well, and one year later it sounds to me like you have already conquered your disease. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day.

  4. Maria O'Brien Hylton says:

    Beautiful post–thanks Pam! Blessings on you and your family!

  5. Meaghan Murphy says:

    Thinking about you all today. I’m so happy I got to be a tiny, tiny part in the master plan and have received the gift of our lives crossing paths. Wishing your family many many more happy aniversarys.

  6. Pam, I loved reading that!!! You are my inspiration. LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!!!! Joanne

  7. Thomas says:

    Cheers Pam! For one year of life, filled with hardship but filled with love.

  8. Steve Bradford says:

    Thank you Pam for sharing your thoughts and your love! God bless you, Paul, and Liqa. Love, Steve and Carol

  9. Jaye's Brain says:

    “…I’ve learned what nobody else could possibly have taught or explained to me…” That’s a beautiful line. In the beginning I focused on the things you and I had in common, Pam, and some of them weren’t pretty! Then there was the time Paul told me I could be a “happy bitch” if I wanted! Your love and faith (both of you) spills out-overflowing to all of us that have the gift of knowing you in some way through this time. Note I didn’t say battle. Because I don’t think you would choose for me to say it, on most days, anyway. Love to you and your friends and family. xxx

  10. ronald lancaster says:

    Pam, The sadness my heart has felt all year long has just been replaced by renewed hope.  Your words have comforted me like no other.  I can only imagine how hard the year has been, but to hear you now makes me positively believe in your life as a journey….. with “satisfaction” as your reward.  I wish I could have better understood the terrible pain you experienced for so long.  In my own limited way, I tried to meet your needs, but realize now how feeble my attempts were.  Just know I have loved you always as a precious sister and I am the one so blessed by your life. Thank you for this message.  Life does not seem so grim and foreboding after reading your heart’s message. Love, Julie

    ________________________________

  11. Molly K. Johnson says:

    I remember the tornado warnings…not something we usually see around these parts. Perhaps God’s way of saying, “Something big is headed your way, please wake up and pay attention.” Yes, Lord. Got it. Message received. And it was accurate. Something big indeed was coming. And, very tornadolike, it sent me a-spinnin’. And the only plan I could come up with, the only prayer I could utter, was please, God, use me. Whatever she needs, whatever Paul and Liqua need, whatever You have in mind. If You can use me, I am here. God does great work, even with inadequate tools. So on this anniversary, please permit me to renew that prayer. I pray for you, I hope for you, I love you. And Lord, if there is some way, somehow…..use me. Here I am.

  12. Jill says:

    I DO happen to remember where I was last year at this time – with you, Liqa, Paul, and Abby, as we tried to understand what was going on, and, for my daughter and me, just be where we were needed, which is where we will always be, no matter what. Not being as enlightened as you are, I will whine on your behalf – this sucks. I still hope to grow old with you, to watch as our daughters launch themselves on an unsuspecting world, to sip G&T’s on the porch, to travel the world with or without our spouses, to laugh at ourselves as we kvetch. (Damn, now I’m crying!) But, as you say, it does not matter what we want, it is not in our hands. So I will share this journey with you, no matter where it goes. Love, hope, each other – and a little science too. It’s what we’ve got.

  13. Eunice Laffey says:

    Pam, you are a light in this world. Thank you for who you are, for sharing your gifts, for all the love that you bring in everything you do and to everyone you’re with. You are a blessing and I am so grateful to have you as a friend.

  14. Kathy Flett says:

    Pam, you, Paul, and Angelique are in my thoughts and prayers each day. May there be many more anniversaries and lessons. Please continue to share them so elequently. Many blessings my friend.

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