Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Are you tired of this yet? I'm really not trying to bore you.

This is such a crazy ride. One day--one hour--I'm up and positive, and the next plunged into the depths of despair. There doesn't seem to be much I can do to avoid the swings. The littlest things can trigger them, and the very same thing can send me in one direction today and the opposite direction tomorrow with no warning.

Take the crocuses blooming in the flower garden. On Sunday I looked at them closely, trying to memorize their details because I don't know if I'll ever see them again. Yesterday I just saw crocuses and noted they were pretty, seeing the same thing I have seen every other year when they bloom and expecting to see them again next year.

Then there are the birds. I recently discovered the blue heron that are nesting in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Another picture of them.

And another.

And another.

What the photos don't show is the road. It's located a few feet from these sycamore trees where the heron are nesting. There is a pull-off where a couple to many cars are usually parked, with people milling about with cameras and field glasses. Through it all the heron come and go, building their nests and guarding them. Some nests have two birds standing on them. Others are still under construction. One is located in a tree that is not a sycamore. This bird has the tree to itself as though it is the community outcast.

My husband and I stopped to watch for a short while on the way to pick up my wig yesterday. It was very quiet since few people were around. These birds are large and silent for the most part, issuing a low-pitched sound only rarely. There are a lot of them. They sit up in the trees almost like ghost birds watching the activity below and barely moving. The trees are growing in swampy ground. There are other sycamore trees around, some of them farther from the road, and all located in swampy areas. Still the heron choose to nest in these five or six trees, all congregated together. The scene is surreal, as though it comes from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. It can bring to mind God and Hell almost at the same time. It feels like a place out of time and space. It makes me wonder where I'm going, if I'm going.

The wig was a revelation. When I chose it, both the wig specialist and my husband insisted the swatch of hair from which the color was selected matched my own hair very closely. The wig is largely gray. But my mirror tells me I have brown hair, and my inner voice insists that I haven't celebrated my 30th birthday yet. I held the wig up next to my head and looked at it in the mirror. They do match. So why is my hair brown in the mirror? It remains a mystery--a trick of the eye and the mind that refuses to acknowledge growing old--that thinks this body will live forever.

When I look in that mirror I see a familiar image. I'm learning how much hair is a part of that image. Why fixated on hair? It doesn't define me. I will still be the same Carrie when it's no longer there. But no, not quite the same. The image will change and with the new image a new person will emerge. I will perceive myself differently and so I will be different. And in the months ahead new hair will replace what is there now which will likely be different once again. I look in the mirror and wonder who is going to emerge from this journey and whether I will like her or not...whether I will know her or not. I don't want to change. I like Carrie with brown hair in the mirror. It's difficult to say goodbye to her.

Praying is another problem. What to pray for? God seldom gives me what I ask for. What He gives me mostly turns out to be better than what I have asked for. Hence most often I would rather seek His will than my own; and so as many people pray for my healing, I seldom join them. I have made one concession. Justin sent me a bottle of oil from the vigil candle of St. John Maximovich. St. John's body lies incorrupt in the Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco. His fingernails still grow. I had hoped to see him and his cathedral on a visit to S.F. Now that may never happen.

St. John is a healer. A book about his life is filled with his miracles. The oil is known to work miracles through his intercession. I have asked for his intercession, and believed mostly that there would be a miracle. There has not been one. Tomorrow I start chemo. If there is to be a miracle, it will be worked through science, not through extraordinary events.

St. John Maximovich, pray for me.

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