Wednesday night was a long one, up at 1:30, at 2:45, at 3, at 4:15, and several other breaks. I finally took 2.5 mg of Valium at around 4 and I did sleep for at least 45 minutes. I got to the Radford hospital around 7:45 and I was pretty quickly moved to my room, but they misplaced my bloodwork so I didn’t get my IV until well after 9 and they didn’t start me until at least 9:30. That means another long day (it is 4:39 and I get my next meds at 7:15 (that lasts a half hour) so I might actually get out by 8:00 or so. I tried calling Judy again but no response so I won’t call anymore. If she wanted to talk, she would call. I also called Roberta but all I got was a voice message. That the two of them want to have nothing to do with me is my fault. I broke off relations with them after my mother died and they have ever reason to avoid me. I did write a friendly message to Glen Martin to try to end the silence I have continued with him, even though he tried to be friendly all along. I have separated myself from a lot of people and it is almost always my fault. “When you have singleness of purpose, everything else is embraced or discarded according to whether or not it moves you in the direction of your goal. When you don’t have this singleness of purpose you get lost in the tossing and turning of daily life” Mother Teresa: “God may never give you clarity. All you can do is trust.” “But this walking humbly with God is difficult. To achieve it, it is essential that we acquire the habits of recollection and self possession” I think I do okay on recollection (my whole life seems a grim painting now) but self-possession is another story. Early on in my chemo I didn’t think I could take one more minute of the constant anxiety (I’m sure the 60 mg of prednisone was a big factor). Now at least I have a place to move to on August 15 and the hollow is sold and I am 2/3 of the way through my 3rd chemo. I have had several crying bouts out on my porch, hysterically bemoaning my fate, but for the most part, if I can keep fairly busy I can keep the anxiety level fairly low. Still, the joy of my life has become sleep, usually around 12:15 am when I can finally forget how stressed my life had become.
Later in chemo I called my sister Roberta and had, what was for me an extraordinary conversation. She was very friendly and she seemed to me a different person, even her voice seemed changed. She rather quickly accepted my request for forgiveness and she wondered why I had separated myself from my siblings. She said that when I was younger she thought I might have Asberger’s and I told I am pretty sure I had ADD. I told her of my efforts to reconnect with the Catholic faith and she thought that was a good thing for me, even though she still has no faith in God stemming from the death of her husband in an automobile accident just after her son Christopher was born. I made it clear I wasn’t going to preach to her and she told me that she wasn’t sure that Chris and Angie’s marriage was going to stay together, although he himself is doing quite well as a construction supervisor. I really felt good talking to her, and seeing her so differently, and I really understand that it was my actions that separated me from her and my other siblings. She told me how involved Judy was with the church and the sadness that my brief dealings with her had brought her and that she always prayed for me (and for Roberta). My brother Greg is in France with his wife Chris and I will try to talk to him when he returns. It amazes me that I could be so arrogant and insensitive. Roberta said that I was always confrontational and that has been true throughout my life, even as an environmental activist. But I told Roberta I think I really am becoming a different person and I know I need to keep working on this. I asked her if I could contact her in a couple of months and she said that would be fine. “We waste time drowning in unforgiveness.” Kelly 128
Earlier in my conversation with Claire about the upcoming move and the book she loaned me Captivating, she thought I had already changed a good deal, and she told me two things that bothered her about when she studied with me in that Graduate Creative Writing class: one was that she thought that I was very alone (this was right about when Tracy left and I published the chapbook dedicated to her) and that I was much too critical of one of the students who used Christian imagery in her poems and my sarcastic comments hurt this students feelings. I hope this will help me in my future teachings.
Matthew Kelly writes: If you want your future to be different from your past, there is only one way: Change your habits. Our lives change when our habits change.” This to me is a profound truth and I do hope that my focus on connecting to Jesus and the Holy Spirit will influence my habits. I do hope that I can keep working on this change because for me it is so difficult, but I am already starting to see the rewards. I think I am much more approachable and there is a warmth in me in being friendly to people. One of the nurses, in response to my saying that I thought I was an average patient, said that she wished she had a whole unit of patients like me. I think I was getting outside of myself and focusing on those around me. When I talked with Leeanne, the nurse who may have lupus, I think my friendliness had a positive effect on her.
I finally got to leave at just about 8 and I made it home in time for my evening prayers.
Thursday morning was a bit rough. Thoughts of how well financially, my siblings are doing and how well Marv and Joyce are doing kept me up and I had to battle to clear my head of such thoughts and try to concentrate on Jesus. Their success has nothing to do with me financial stresses and I just have to make sure my single purpose is my spiritual goals. I finally got up around 8:30 and trimmed the grass around the house and then I watched the full stations of the cross, praying along with it, and I think that discipline was good for me. “in the course of the entire Gospels, the disciples make only one request of Jesus as a group: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11.1 Kelly 134 “The process of identifying strengths and weaknesses and transforming weaknesses into strengths is classic Catholic spirituality” 139 Confession is most important because we “almost never see things as they really are” 147 “There is no treasure like a clear conscience. If you want the joy of a clear conscience, come to Confession.” In my own case, my confession with Father John at St. Mary’s really did make me feel much cleaner. I confessed a sin I had never confessed and when I went to confession before my colon resection and my knee replacement surgery I confessed many of the major sins I had ever done, and I think now of a few more I should confess. “Haven’t you noticed the way people living good lives have a glow about them?” So true when I think about Glenda and Joseph and Deacon Rick.
“The best way to spend your time while you are waiting for temptation to pass is to pray.” Kelly 159 I don’t think I am much of a sinner at this point. I don’t lust for anyone, I am certainly not greedy, I wish the best for my friends and colleagues, I pray more and more and try hard to stay focused on my prayers. That is very hard. “The reason prayer and contemplation are so integral to the Christian life is because thought determines action” 167 My thoughts after my mother died were that my family was dysfunctional and I wanted out so my action was to write to them and ask them to leave me alone, which they did (except Judy twice tried to reach out to me). My thoughts toward certain of my colleagues were negative and therefore I acted negatively toward them (Eric, Glen and Don Samson) for instance. My thoughts about certain students were negative and my actions toward them often ended in confrontation and certainly had little positive value. I think my thoughts toward children and toward nature and my early volunteer work at St. Albans were my most positive ones and when I examine my dealings with children (I was a very good babysitter) and I cared deeply about nature especially rivers and my environmental activities and my writings reflect this deep love (although people who harmed the environment often gained my wrath).
I reflected on my anger while doing my knee exercises and I think that was helpful. New instances came to mind (how angry I got with my parents at points when I thought they were favoring my siblings) and I am beginning to really understand that even if I had a good justification for my anger, what real good did it do. I am pretty smart and I can justify almost all of my actions. So what. Where did those “victories” leave me? In my mind, I had proven myself right again (the time my mother asked me not to come to Toms River to visit after she had invited me because Roberta wanted to stay and I was incensed that she uninvited me is a clear instance) but again where did it lead. My mother was very upset and I was angry for a long time about that. I have to let that anger about injustices leave my heart. I will never grow spiritually because I will always see myself as a victim. I apologized to Gloria when she visited me for a week and I was pretty mean to her, finding flaws in many things she did, and again I could justify almost every one of the things she did but what did it accomplish. I tainted her trip and I ended up feeling like a bully toward a woman who was one of the best I ever went out with. I also called Alfredo and apologized for arguing with him while they were moving. Again, I could rationalize it in my head, but where did it leave me. Isolated from Alfredo, causing some tension for Kelly, and making me feel that I had interfered in her life, something I have always promised not to. Claire Hall sent me a nice email responding to the class stuff and I was thankful for that. I also spoke to Cathy Gallo and she said that I had been very good to her daughters and a good friend to her so that was a very positive part of my personality.