Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A year in the life.

Just over a year ago today, with all our worldly possessions, my family and I set out to make a 2000 mile plus journey across the heart of this great nation. Journeying toward a new beginning, or perhaps just a new chapter in our lives. I could scarcely have imagined where I would be one year later, the path I have taken, or the choices I have made. I still face death every day. With its constant reminders it never lets me forget - I dare not forget lest it overtake me. But it will NEVER define me and I will never cower in fear of it. If it is to happen then what can we really do to stop it? Should we even TRY to stop it? Some pretty deep philosophical stuff there… Speaking of deep philosophical stuff, I’d like to share with you part of a conversation that I had on my FaceBook page with a new friend. It started when I randomly posted a “status update” that said this “God does not give us more than we can handle, He gives us enough so we will turn everything over and trust in Him.” It prompted this friend to comment that he used to believe that but not so much anymore. That he had a hard time believing that God had a hand in our everyday lives and that he decided how much each one of us could “handle”. He went on to ask if anyone else felt this way sometimes. The following three paragraphs are my response.

I didn't used to think that God had much time for little ol Tracy. After all, what did I matter in the grand scheme of things? I suppose ...one could argue that I have been led to this place in my life to be the one to say such words as might get us all thinking again. Our culture seems to be one of everything must be hand fed to us by wiser, smarter people nowadays... But I'm not sure if I buy into all that either.

At this point in my life I have to believe in SOMETHING and I have bounced around testing other spiritual waters with my toe and nothing was of a "comfortable" temperature to me. See, I lived my life according to what I thought was right and I thought that I didn't NEED to do it for some higher power. I was/am smart enough to know what is right and what is wrong. I suppose a lot of my hesitation in turning to "God" lie in the fact that by and large the majority of people that I encountered that were "Christian" behaved in ways that were VERY un-Christian like to me, ergo why would I want to be counted among them? Having exposed myself to myriad other religious philosophies there are a host of redeeming qualities about each of them and by and large I still use the best of those parts today.

I guess I don't believe that God has a hand in everything that I do. After all, he did give me free will right? What would be the point in giving someone free will and then "guiding" their every move? For me, I think that I have to believe that as a generally "good" person, there simply HAS to be some reason for me to have something as horrible as cancer... I don't know if this is a test, an awakening, or a call to action... I honestly don't know why it happened but I suppose that when faced with death one needs to have a reason why one should die. For example: I am old and my body is just worn out. I am a soldier fighting for a good cause. I have a terminal disease and it has given me a sense of faith in a higher power so that I might find my voice and maybe help others find a sense of purpose to their lives.

Pretty deep stuff for a Monday evening eh? But I think that it came about because this is the time I am capable and willing to take it on. To open it up, dissect it, look at it from a few different points of view and formulate a well thought out reply. I hope that was conveyed.

I also received some more “political crap” emails that sort of set me off. I’m getting very tired of people passing along things that are at best disrespectful of who the President is and the tasks he faces on a daily basis. We should all know by now that no matter who sits in that chair in the oval office they simply can’t please everyone. I get that some of you are upset, that you feel like you are getting royally screwed by “the man” but seriously, does passing along an email that simply makes no sense or posting a link on your FaceBook about how he is not attending ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial day or going to the Boy Scout Jamboree help in any way? Does it make any of us feel better about our present situation? Be honest… I didn’t think so.

A while ago, around Memorial Day I think, I asked if anyone could name one thing that he had done that was “good” in his or her opinion. The answers I got thoroughly appalled me. No one even really tried! Those that did respond simply spouted off things that were good because he hadn’t done them or that had been shot down by the rest of the politicians in Washington. These people failed to even try to grasp what I was asking but instead used it as an opportunity to try to condemn someone they have never even met and in fact, know very little about. It honestly makes me sad that people base their opinion of someone solely on their political affiliation or what they think they are trying to do based on what the media tells them.

I think most of us need to take a step back and take a long hard look at how we treat other people, how we base our opinions of one another, and what is really important to us as a whole. For example, Republicans tell us that the government wants to take away our guns, while Democrats tell us that they want to nationalize health care. So by this rationale alone, and taking into account no other factors, how should I vote? I certainly don’t want to lose my second amendment rights but being very sick and not knowing whether or not I would be able to pay my medical bills that national health care thing sounds pretty good. Maybe I’ll just fight for my guns later, if I’m still alive… See what I mean? It’s not so easy, and it raises the question of just how much value do some people place on MY life when I can’t afford insurance and nationalized health care is not such a good idea in the opinions of some. That they don’t want to pay for someone else’s hospital bills… Well hell, maybe I DO need to fight for my right to bear arms so I can take out as many as I can before I die of cancer, but in the mean time, I think I’ll just pass along another ridiculous email slandering someone who is trying to help me because it’s the “easy way” to go about things and it makes me feel like I had my say… In reality you didn’t say a darned thing, and THAT’S the bottom line!


  1. I just have a few chapters left of a book I'm reading called "Same Kind of Different as Me," by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It is a short, easy read, but it grapples with some heavy questions and dissects some of those things that you wrote about here. I've often struggled with these same questions concerning cancer, other illnesses, and what often seems to me as senseless deaths. I still cannot make sense of children being taken by disease or tragedy; it just never comes to any resolve for me. Our good friend Rick passed away, and I cried and felt that same futility that comes from being unable to make sense of it or change it or somehow morph it into something wonderful. I hand these jumbled, ragged feelings over to God, and I do my best to let Him carry the weight of it. Still, in my gut I know that sickness, pain, death, and grief are not good things. We face them because we have to, and we all know that none of us escapes the inevitable which is death. I don't like that fact, but if we would all be guaranteed a minimum of 85 years on this earth, then I could accept it a lot more easily. It's when a good life is taken too soon that I grapple with the hard stuff and end up laying all my unanswered questions on God's lap after wearing myself out over them. One thing I believe very strongly is that this world is not all there is. I am not an ultra-spiritual person who sees either God or Satan behind every little thing in life, but I do believe that our endgame is not here. The life I live here matters a great deal, especially how I treat the ones closest to me, but there is a lot more beyond the day to day joys and struggles of this life. I think we get glimpses of it in those splendid, priceless moments we share with those we love or in enjoying nature and being blown away by something incredibly beautiful. It's not perfected here, but those times make life worth living and give us reasons to fight whatever battles are raging against us. Tracy, you are finding pearls amidst a lot of crap that has been handed to you. I hope you will continue to share the good, bad, and the ugly of your thought processes because even those of us who are not directly facing cancer or serious illness at this moment still must face these life questions. We know and love people who are staring disease and the real prospect of death straight in the eyes, and we ourselves will face it sooner or later. I am greatly encouraged by your honesty and humor and strength. Life is a precious gift, and your life is a gift to me and an inspiration. I hate cancer with a white hot passion, so keep fighting that big gorilla and let's pummel the heck out of him! My love and prayers are with you, Sarah, and the kids.

  2. I love reading your posts, Tracy. Your views on life are incredible and I'm glad I got to know you and your family when you were in Michigan.

    Everything does seem to happen for a reason, I'm not sure if there's a divine presence guiding this or not, but there always seems to be a reason behind situations we encounter. You're choosing to look at the more positive side of this difficult situation you're experiencing and we are all growing because you're sharing it with us.

    Bless you.