Friday, 3 February 2012

Mental Starch...

Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch.  ~E.M. Forster

I've put off writing on the subject...and put it off...and put it off. Waiting for a trigger, a sign to tell me, Okay, it's all right to speak it out loud now.

As many of you know, my son-in-law Mike battles cancer. Bravely battles cancer. Has fought it tooth and nail.

You want to see a REAL alpha male in action? Meet Mike. Through brain surgery, one-and-a-half years of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, needles, needles, needles, nausea, hair loss, weakness, he has never cried. He's much stronger than me, that's for sure.

Oh, he DOES cry. Everytime he talks to me about my daughter and tells me how strong she's been for him...he cries. He gets a teeny bit beta then. When he tells me how much he loves her, he cries. When he thinks--even for a moment--about that unthinkable prospect of ever leaving her behind, he cries.

But I don't strike off marks for THOSE tears. He's still an amazing alpha male. So alpha males really DO exist.

My thoughts today, though, are on other things.

Pain. A pain that is not physical---damn, how I wish it was, because maybe there would be a med to take for it---but of the heart.

During this illness, I've ridden along on the tide of the faith Mike and Lyndie have had. I was weak. But if THEY could be strong, so could I.

But recently, some crisis arose in the course of Mike's journey. New fears, a relapse.

A gripping pain spread through me---the type I've not experienced since my daughter was small, when she would be hurt, crying, sad, scared---when she called me one day to tell me that Mike had had a spell of speech disorientation and temporary vision loss.

This time, my children were both afraid. That faith---Lyndie's famous (and annoying to cartwheels and pain, sunshine and rain attitude began to slip.

The agony of seeing fear in your children, in hearing your child slipping in her strength, of hearing the begging in their voice to tell them things ARE going to be okay, aren't they? They're big guys, they're not going to come out and ask that, but you can hear it in their voices. That grasping for a light in the dark.

And the reason I broke down to write about this today is because, once again, my daughter seems to feel the need to aplogize for her optimism, her insisting on being positive.

I have no idea where the need arose, I just know she posted an update to those on her list in apology for NOT posting all the grim details of Mike's disease which she chose not to dwell on. That same old criticism she's suffered all along for being too positive, for being upbeat...for choosing to HOPE, to have FAITH.

So...listen up, people.

I can tell you first hand that Lyndie IS very aware of every grim detail, every morbid possibility, ever reality of this disease. Beneath all those sunny cartwheels beats the heart of one of the strongest, most courageous women I know. A woman who DOES know the truth, but chooses to face this monster in her own way.

The world NEEDS more Lyndies. I need her positive reinforcement, because I'm much more negative than she, and I would worry my son-in-law into a much worse state if not for his strength and faith as well as Lyndie's. So thank heavens for those who DO hold out on hope. They hold the rest of us wimps up.

And what the hell happened to having faith anyway? What's wrong with having faith?

Faith is, contrary to what some may think, is NOT denial. Faith is shining a big, blinding bright light in the face of darkness. Faith is fighting. Faith is tough. And, damn it, it takes a hell of a lot more courage to have faith than it does to settle for defeat. A lot more.

Faith is a big, brawny brute with clenched fists, fighting its way through the grimness that could easily destroy one's strength.

Sherwood Eddy said, Faith is reason grown courageous. 

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens, says J.R.R. Tolkien.

And my favorite, favorite one of all, from William Wordworth, Faith is a passionate intuition.

So, Mike and Lyndie, continue in your hope, in your faith, in their strength.

And ol' Mom will be right there with you in my heart.

He who has faith has... an inward reservoir of courage, hope, confidence, calmness, and assuring trust that all will come out well - even though to the world it may appear to come out most badly.  ~B.C. Forbes



Cassie Exline said...

Lyndie never needs to apologize for being upbeat and positive. That's not denial that's looking for the silver lining and not dwelling on the negative. It's much too easy to get caught in a whirlpool of despair, which never helps. People like Lyndie are lifelines to be treasured. My heart and prayers to all of you.

Victor J. Banis said...

A lovely essay, Carol - my prayers are with you and Lyndie and Mike - and, yes, I too thank God for people who have faith - who can see the sunshine even on the darkest day.


judiebabie said...


I can't begin to tell you how faith help me make it in this world. I know some people don't like to talk about God, but I must tell you that without faith, it is impossible to please God. I say that because I believe he can do anything but fail! If I tell you everything he's done for me this comment couldn't hold it all. I'm praying for Mike and your daughter, Tell them that the battle is not theirs but the Lord's! Tell her to hold her head up high and keep the faith!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Wonderful post, Carol. You and Mike and your daughter are always in my thoughts.

Lyndie has no need to apologize. Wallowing in "poor us" and asking for pity doesn't help anyone. Lyndie's amazing for being able to stay upbeat and positive in the face of all that's happened, and anyone who criticizes her for that...Okay, I'm going to play "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything."

by Sarah Lee said...

People have been critical of Lyndie's faith? That's crazy. As the generations mature, it seems more and more faithless, pessimistic people emerge. It's wrong that she felt the need to apologize for her cheerfulness. She's a very strong woman, and so are you, sweet sis.

Louisa Bacio said...

Very sorry to hear about this journey in your family, and know that you've raised a strong woman. Faith and that will to stay positive goes a long way.

Keep smiling!


N.J. Nielsen/ Saddington said...

My heart and thoughts are with you and yours throughout this whole journey your family is on. You know where I am if you need to talk.


Harlie Williams said...

You, Mike and Lyndie are still on my prayer list at church. Plus, the critics are just jealous that they don't have her faith.


jeayci said...

I comment rarely but read your blog regularly. Your words always move me, but this prompted me out of lurkdom with tears in my eyes. I am awed by your family's faith and strength.

An inveterate optimist myself, perhaps I'm biased, but I agree completely that faith requires far more strength than despair. I, too, have encountered those who mock optimism; I feel compassion for them, for what a difficult, unpleasant way that must be to live.

I hope Mike triumphs over the cancer. But even if he doesn't, trite as it may sound, I'm reminded of the words of the Bard, "'Tis better to have loved and lost..." What a beautiful love he and Lyndie have, and that you're a part of. How wonderful you've all had it even if you must lose it. But then, everything ends sooner or later. The best any of us can do is live and love fully while we're here, and it sounds like you're all doing that in spades.

Sue Brown said...

Carol, you have brought up a strong daughter and Mike is an amazing son-in-law.

All power and strength to them. You are all in my prayers.

AlanChinWriter said...

Beautiful thoughts, Carol. My prayers are with you and Mike and Lyndie.

Someone once close to me, an uncle, is going through a relaps as well. His daughter, who I am still close to, is dealing with the same issue of faith.

I think it is something many of us will experience if we live long enough, and hopefully we will all grow by the experience.


C. Zampa said...

Hey, Cassie, and thank you.
No, she sure shouldn't have to apologize or even explain.
How we handle trials is our own personal long as we are coping.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Victor. I'm grateful, too, for those who see the sun in the darkness.

And thank you for the beautiful poem you sent to the group.

C. Zampa said...

I agree 100% with you, Judie.
I've learned over time that faith is such a very powerful thing. And such a comfort at the same time.

Hugs, my friend, and thank you for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Karenna!

Well, she is a lot stronger than me, that's for sure. And you're right.

And I agree. The 'poor me' mentality, I think, makes one weaker and weaker, not having to use their 'legs' to stand.


C. Zampa said...

Hello, Sarah, my sis.

And this isn't the first time she's met with criticism for trying to be upbeat. Some see strong faith as denial, and it is not at all. It's acceptance but the determination to not let it overpower your life.

Love you, lady.

C. Zampa said...

Louisa, thank you for visiting!
And thank you for your thoughts and wishes!

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Norma, thank you, sweetie. We'll take those thoughts and prayers and thank you so much!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Harlie, and thank you SO much for putting them on your prayer list at church! Every prayer is felt by them, believe me.

C. Zampa said...

Welcome and thank you for visiting, Jeayci!

Yes, we do have to just live as happy as we can, never knowing what another day will bring.

Good to see you, and many thanks for your thoughts!

C. Zampa said...

Hey, sweet Sue!
She sure is strong and he is amazing. Both strong on each other and for each other.

Thank you, my friend.

C. Zampa said...

Alan, thank you for your thoughts and I send mine as well for your uncle.

Sarah Ballance said...

Her strength amazes me, as does his ... as does YOURS. My prayers are with you all. (((Hugs)))

Anonymous said...

Lyndie is a bright shining star of hope and love. I don't think I would be the same not knowing her. What an extraordinary human being.

Vastine Bondurant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vastine Bondurant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. Zampa said...

Thanks, Sarah B.

Their strength amazes me, too. I lean it.


C. Zampa said...

Hugs, Anonymous!

I SO agree with you. I'm not sure where I'd be had Lyndie not been born into my life.
And then to have the blessing of having a son in Mike.

vicki said...

Hi Carol, This is Vicki, Keeli's mom. Wanted to try and write something intelligent or emotional but your wonderful daughter and friends have about said it all! You and Lyndie are both great writers. You are all in my prayers!

Janice Seagraves said...

There's been cancer in my family. I lost my dad and several uncles and an aunt.

My sister and brother had leukemia ten years a part. They were both brave in their battle with the disease. And thank God,they're both in remission now.

I believe in the power of prayer. I just said a quick prayer one for Mike.


C. Zampa said...

Vicki, it is SO good to see you! And thank you so much for stopping by and for your thoughts!

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Janice!

Thank you for sharing about your relatives. I love those stories of surviving cancer, and I'm so happy they did so!

And thank you for your prayers! So appreciated! Hugs!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm guessing, but I wonder if her need to apologize is because someone said something. Or she overheard someone saying something. People don't make me angry, some of their attitudes do. I think of those who would criticize Lyndie for being positive and I want to smack them up side the head. I hear those criticisms occasionally, myself, from people who are supposed to be friends, and I end up staring at them with my jaw hanging down because ...

It doesn't matter. But Lyndie and Mike and you are in my prayers. Lots and lots of prayers. Because life is tough. Hopefully one day we'll all meet in heaven, and we'll laugh that we were so nervous about getting there.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, sweet Joylene!

I know exactly what you mean. It's so frustrating to be accused of beig in denial because you choose to fight and face a crisis with a smile and a positive attitude.

Thank you for your prayers. And I like the idea of meeting you, even if I do have to wait til Heaven. LOL...And, yes, we sure will laugh about that, won't we?