Health and Wellness

The Faithful

Four generations, reduced to three.” The phrase kept replaying. Tears skipped down my face while I attempted to quiet trembling hands. I lugged the carry on bags over my shoulder and encouraged Nikolai to keep up.

Grief is a funny thing, it likes to bring back memories to intensify pain. “Do you remember when Niki asked you to book a flight so he could ride in an airplane?” Grief asked with a snicker. A scene of my son standing in the kitchen less than a week prior popped into my brain to twist the blade that was already impaling my heart. He wanted to go on vacation.

This isn’t what either of us had in mind” I mumble to no one in particular.

I had tucked my laptop between bare essentials in my backpack but I couldn’t find strength to pull it out. Once we reached our terminal and finally settled in after boarding, I leaned back into my assigned seat on the airplane feeling hopeful sleep might come to me this time. It didn’t. Instead, an outline of the blog post I wasn’t ready to write was being narrated by an unknown force from within.

Four generations, reduced to three. What is it about holiday’s and tragedies? The day after I found out about my grandmother’s cancer… I scrounged up some change to buy my favorite tea to sip while I sat in the parking lot looking for flights. I ran into a wonderful friend of mine before I even made it to the counter. The look on her face told me something was wrong and I knew she needed to talk.

The doctor found cancer in my uterus.”

Grief was laughing at me again. She could hardly get the words to leave her lips. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to tell her own children but somehow… she she chose to tell me. One of my best friends died of cancer on Christmas day last year. My grandfather also passed away around Christmas time. There I was connecting my cell phone to the coffee shop WiFi to book flights when an overwhelming sense of deja-vu slammed into me. All because another friend was sick and one of my favorite people seemed to be next.

I wanted to hug her close before leaving to soothe us both but she wouldn’t let me. The fear of breaking down in front of her employees weighed heavily. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I could keep it together myself. When I made my way back to my car I slipped into the drivers seat to sob where no one would see me. Life is unfair. As the minuets ticked by, I reminded myself that I would have to man up soon in order to relay the information about my grandmother to my son for the first time.

How do you explain the gravity of sickness and finality of death to a seven year old? Farm life taught me well but I still wasn’t prepared for this. I held my boy in my arms and listened to him gasp for air while his shoulders rattled against my rib cage as he wept. Who would I call when I couldn’t remember the list of ingredients to a recipe? Who would I talk to after having an argument with my mom? Who was going to be able to tell me stories about our family history?

She helped raise me when my mom was too young to be a mom. She kissed my skinned knees, taught me how to compost, instilled my love of roses and all things floral. I’ve watched her since I was a baby in the early morning hours just before sunlight graced the earth as she gingerly turned the pages of a well-worn leather Bible. She was the one who taught me the most about faith and forgiveness.

In my darkest hour when I had a brush with death, my grandma called me around two in the morning to tell me that I was in her thoughts and on her heart. She gave me sermons over the years not with words, but by the way she’s lived her life. Whenever she knew I needed comfort… I was given a front row seat to her private conversations with Jesus. My flight to see her was made so I could hold her hand before surgery in case I had to say goodbye.

I wanted to see her smile and hear her laugh more than I wanted to fly out for a funeral. Unfortunately, nothing brings out the worst in family quite like a crisis. A group chat between cousins, aunts, and uncles wouldn’t stop chiming with notifications from my cell. Petty arguments ensued about who knew her best, who was the closest to her, and how to handle her medical care. The saga overshadowed the gravity of the situation.

I woke up early to prepare the farm for my absence. I soaked feed buckets for Harlow (my horse), I threw extra hay to our donkey and I tossed plenty of scratch to fill the bellies of our flock. Rob (my husband) was making the drive home from another state to take over for me while I was gone. He had been fixing a life-flight helicopter when I told him I needed his help.

In the red beams of my vehicle’s tail lights, I tackled chores and tried to remind myself to breathe. Yet after loading luggage into the trunk, when I went to shut the gate… I heard a crunching sound. It didn’t take long to realize my cell phone had slipped into the pathway of the latch. All of my itinerary information, my contacts for traveling, and my banking apps vanished moments before I had a flight to catch. Pure panic set in.

Thankfully Nikolai had an emergency cell phone on hand which I was able to use in a pinch. The family bickering came to a halt and I like to think God knew I needed a break. Instead of reading messages that made my stomach churn, my focus was exactly where it needed to be… on seeing her.

Half asleep and standing on the curb outside the phoenix airport, my brother pulled us into a much needed bear hug. After a five hour layover and a full day of travel, Nikolai couldn’t keep his head from nodding off. We crashed on my big, little brother’s sofa. The next morning Austin (my brother) took us out for breakfast and replaced my cell phone with a shiny new one.

180 miles and one left turn until I finally set foot on the ranch my grandparent’s had built together. With nothing more than love and a dream it was encompassed by an eerie dense cloud of fog. I couldn’t help hearing echos of hoof beats from horses I once loved. I could almost smell the ripe tomatoes I use to pull off the vine inside my Papa’s greenhouse and feel the acidic juice as it dripped off my chin. I thought about the Rough Collies we raised and summers spent dodging monsoons. Four generations and the desert would probably reclaim the land we borrowed.

The small town hospital hardly looked like a hospital at all. We almost passed it up before turning into the parking lot. “She has three types of cancer.” The doctor said when I finally had a moment to speak with him. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat and process everything he was attempting to tell me.

A tumor in her abdomen, colon cancer, and a tumor near the main artery next to her heart. I stood outside her room trying to catch my breath. I hate the smell of sterile environments. Three kinds of cancer, three generations. My eye lids were puffy from sobs I couldn’t contain, my soul felt defeated, and all I wanted more than anything else was another ten years with her.

Being faithful requires the ability to put your fears away so God can carry them for you. While I was terrified, my grandma was filled with peace. She opened her Bible before surgery the same way she did every morning. She looked weak and frail but her spirit was full of strength. She wanted to live. She always told me that one of her big goals in life was to make it to her one hundredth birthday.

As a family we sat in the hospital cafeteria nervously playing board games while we waited for an update. Someone won, someone lost, and I couldn’t concentrate. I wanted to hide in my little house tucked away between mountains among the forest.

Sometimes the hopelessness in life gives you tunnel vision. When it’s too painful to hope for something better, you stop trying. You lean into what you think is inevitable and you miss the miraculous events unfolding before your eyes.

I was the second person to see her after surgery. I kissed her hands and bossed the nurses around to keep my beautiful grandmother comfortable. I made sure she had the best nausea medicine. I fluffed her pillows, filled a Styrofoam cup with ice chips, and wrote our phone numbers on the white board in case anything changed.

She was lively, her eyes were mischievous, and she laughed! The charge nurse slipped in to check on us. He was a balding man who called her “young lady” which made her scoff.

I’m going to climb ALL the stairs in Bisbee.” She stated with a matter of fact.

The nurse looked to me with amusement. “Don’t you think you should try to heal first?”

I will heal and then I’m going to live. I’m going to travel to see my kids and I’m going to hike the stairs in Bisbee. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m going to do it.”

She’s not joking. She’s the toughest woman I know and she means what she says. She’ll do it.” I said with a smile.

Miracles happen all the time, even when it feels as if there is no way out. The surgeon who told us to expect the worst… removed all of the cancer in her body with the exception of the one near her heart. Not only is my grandmother recovering, she’s thriving and we get as much time with her as God will allow.

My friend at the coffee shop had a complete hysterectomy. Her tumor ended up being benign. Her wonderful children get to keep their mother and she didn’t end up in need of chemo or radiation treatments. She’s back to working part time while she recovers.

Miracles happen, sometimes you just need faith.

Notes from the Author:

A lot of things have happened in my life the past two months that forced me to put my blog on the back burner for a little bit. I had to prioritize my family, my friends, and my farm but I never gave up on writing. I had to give myself grace for not being able to do it all and handle one crisis at a time. I hope you’ll forgive me for being away so long! I’m still sorting out how to juggle things better and the more I write, the more you’ll understand why those things happen sometimes. I love my fellow bloggers so much. I can’t wait to get caught up with the friendships I’ve made here so I can nourish them again. All my love,

Lish.

82 thoughts on “The Faithful”

  1. LaShelle, I’m so very happy that you and your family have been blessed to have more time with your Grandma and that your friend did not have cancer. God slows us down in sometimes pretty scary ways, but our trust in Him remains to help us navigate them. I’m glad you’re back, but don’t worry, we all understand that life sometimes takes priority and you needed to be with her. God bless!

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  2. I actually thought of you and your blog this morning and realized I hadn’t seen it in awhile. I thought to myself, “I hope everything is alright”. I am encouraged that you are back on the board and that you still have your Grandmother and your friend is doing well. Blessings.

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  3. I may not know your grandmother, but I know of people like her. Attitude, determination, and faith are the hallmarks of recovery.

    I noticed your absence, but everyone understands that life takes priority over blogging. After this month, I won’t be around nearly as much. Mainly, I’m determined to focus on my story writing and finish the two novels that haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. My best to you and your family, LaShelle.

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    1. I’m excited to see the completion of your books Pete. I read the blog you posted about your absence and I’ll miss you so much! I’ve thought about you a lot while I was managing things going on I’m my life. I keep trying to get back on track of writing consistently again but life has thrown one curve ball after the next. Anywho… I hope you check in with us from time to time and let us celebrate with you when you’re done

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      1. I’m not the type to completely disappear. One of the things I like most about blogging is meeting interesting people like you. We all get sidetracked with various things in our lives, but I’m going to encourage you to keep writing, LaShelle. You are talented (I’m not just saying this) with a special ability to retell a story while making your readers feel something with your great use of sensory vocabulary. One of the most common pieces of advice in writing is “show don’t tell,” and you have are outstanding at that.

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      2. You always know how to make my day Pete! I won’t be giving up writing anytime soon, even if I get a little side tracked now and again. Thank you for the loving support, I’m so glad you’re not going to disappear on us. 🥰

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  4. Ah, was just wishing you well on the comment that you left, and now I get to read the full story. Glad to hear that everything turned out okay, and that you’ll be back as well. I have to admit that I didn’t know what was going to happen as I read this post, but it’s such a relief to come to this conclusion. Looking forward to your writing!

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      1. I’m sure you’ll spend that extra time well; one of my granddaughter;s friends has terminal cancer but she’s living it up while she can ; sure there are bad days but there are happy days too and wonderful fun and love to sustain her —

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  5. Oh, what a journey! Literal and metaphorical. So glad that your grandmother is recovering as is your friend. And I’m so happy you are back in this space again. You and your beautiful writing have been missed!! Sending lots of love!

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  6. A happy ending I am so happy for you and your family …Cancer is a wicked disease and both our daughters have been having treatment for cancer this last year Donna has completed hers and Lauren has a way to go yet…Life loves throwing us curveballs but we are strong and will get through this …Take care 🙂

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    1. Wow Carol I had no idea. I’m so sorry and incredibly impressed by your sunny disposition. I’ll keep your daughters in my prayers and if you don’t believe in God, that’s my way of saying they’ll be on my heart and mind as I hope and put faith in their healing. If you ever just need to vent about it, I’m available for that too. ❤️

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  7. I’ve missed reading your beautiful blog. Your ability to transport the reader into your world is magical. Your farm and the farm of your grandparents seem so filled with rich and vivid memory I feel almost like I’ve been there before. Thank you.

    I’m so grateful for the happy ending for your family! Grief is extremely difficult to work through and you captured the ups and downs here perfectly. Your grandmother is my kind of woman and her faith is admirable.

    Everyone understands you taking time away, and I’m glad you are okay. Hopefully, things are settling for you. I look forward to hearing more about what’s been going on in your world.

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    1. Thanks so much Bridget, your comments always melt my heart and my day. I’m so thankful to have your friendship and as always… You’re a talented writer too! Thanks for taking the time to send me your love and support. 🥰

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  8. So glad you grandmother is recovering as your friend. And iam so happy you back in this space . Beautiful you writing blog.
    Sending a lots love .
    I pray to God you have health, wealthy & posprity.
    You go ahed.
    God bless you.

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  9. Welcome back LaShelle. In spite of the anguish you have had during your time away from blogging, you stepped right back into it to tell us your sad tale. I hope everything is better now and you’re good to go … at least until Spring when the flowers rear their tiny heads and the farm becomes busy and snatches you away from us again.

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    1. Thanks so much Linda! How right you are. Spring is just around the corner. I’ve already planted another 500 corms this week and I’m gearing up to order seeds and spring bulbs! Spring is nothing but chaos but I’m so excited I can hardly wait. I have 60 varieties of flowers on my list that I have to narrow down 😂. It’s so hard!! My garden this year will be bigger and better than it was last year. I cannot wait to take pictures and share them with you. Rob and I put our greenhouse building on pause while tackling family stuff but we’re back to working on that now too. It’s hard to find balance with writing, painting, planting, and everyday life lately. I wish I could make promises to be consistent but the truth is… Sometimes I just gotta roll with the punches and tackle the things on my list that need attention the most. My blog is forever a priority but sometimes I have to give myself grace and pick up where I left off. hopefully as I get more experience running a flower business I’ll be more organized 😅☺️🥰 that’s the dream anyway 😆

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      1. You will do all these things and more LaShelle – it will not happen overnight … baby steps. You have to have a lot of patience with gardening, especially now with climate change. You already had Mother Nature’s wrath give you extra work and expenses. It is hard to set priorities and I have to admit that the house, both inside and outside, looked a lot better before blogging/walking/taking photos intruded. I am looking forward to retirement – whenever that might be as my boss will be 76 in March and has no intentions of slowing down. – sigh.

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      2. At least you stay busy though! A busy life is a fulfilling life. Embrace the mess at the expense of creativity. My house also suffers when I focus on one primary thing but if the past two months have taught me anything, it’s to do what you love with the people you love.

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      3. You had a lot going but yes, the work can wait and enjoy the people you love, At least you can go full speed ahead now, once Spring arrives, with those trials and tribulations in the rear view mirror.

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      4. I feel overwhelmed at the moment. I just ordered $200.00 worth of seeds today and I’m torn between crazy excited and unbelievably stressed because I want to be successful and running a business that’s dependent on the weather is stressful. 😅 You’re right though. Full steam ahead now that I can focus on it. I hope I do well though!

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      5. I despair over our weather now LaShelle. I am older than you so I recall four distinct seasons, maybe one thunderstorm with pouring rain, even a bit of hail, but that was never the norm. A few Indian Summer days in Fall that felt good, but not appearing in Winter. Today was a gorgeous day – tomorrow we get 6-8 inches of snow … they keep adjusting it – up. Ugh. That’s a lot of seeds. Now will you start them inside like your other flats or wait and sow them in Spring?

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      6. The weather certainly has changed! It’s alarming isn’t it?! Praying you get through that 6-8 inches. That’s so dangerous. I definitely have a lot of seeds on the way and more to order. Not everything is grown inside and actually many things need to start outside… In the frost! That’s why I ordered them now (because technically I’m a little late) but with the weather freezing every other day, I should be okay.

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      7. I lost all my butterfly garden in the 2013-2014 Polar Vortex and they were all zoned for this zone – if I ever replace them, which I didn’t right away, intending to wait until I was retired and had more time, I would use flowers zoned lower than me (6), but now, almost 10 years later, I am not sure I want to spend the money and time if I will constantly worry about the perennials dying off every Winter. I will continue to think on it (as climate change intensifies and weather is more erratic).

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      8. There are some pretty trees that flower and are frost resistant that you may want to try along with some frost resistant shrubs, you can always try some knock out roses too. They’re low maintenance and can withstand the elements quite well.

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      9. I like the knock out roses LaShelle. I have some Home Run Roses – they have gone thru two Polar Vortex events and still alive, however, the first Polar Vortex, they were brown and dead. I was going to get my handyman to pull them out as they are huge bushes so the roots would be pretty big … so I cut them down to about a foot thinking it was less for him to do and they came back! I wouldn’t mind getting some more roses though. The backyard, right-hand corner, looks bad – a neighbor’s dead tree lost a branch, it hit the electrical wire and caught fire at 11:30 p.m. on December 2nd. I lost all my bushes in that corner. Luckily my house just 25 feet away did not catch on fire. I was outside for several hours in the middle of the night as the firemen put caution tape around my house.

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      10. Roses are resilient. I cover the roots with mulch, let them die off a bit, then cut them during early, early spring. They will thrive. Add some rose food after the last frost with some compost around the roots and they will show off for you.

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      11. Okay, I will try that this year LaShelle. I usually use Rose-Tone for roses and also fertilizer spikes. My neighbor put up a white privacy fence, so I don’t know if that helps them or not – it would block the wind I guess, but I don’t care for how it looks.

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      12. A little tip about roses… Leave the pruning to late winter. Cut off woody branches just before spring and remove anything that’s dead rather than doing it in the autumn. This way winter doesn’t take as much because they have plenty to spare before you cut them. I’m so sorry about the fire and the tree branch. I’d definitely replace them with more roses 🌹

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      13. Wow – I didn’t know that but this year I didn’t get them pruned as we had snow (that happened another time a few years ago) and so they have not been pruned back and have hips galore. I’m worried now every time we have a storm. I have not done anything with that area LaShelle as it just happened on the 2nd of December, but it looks bad there and DTE (our energy provider) came the next day and hacked up my tree that was touching the wires – I wish they’d cut down the guy’s tree – I noticed in the Summer there were dead leaves scattered all over my front yard – it is almost two backyards away. Looked up and saw the tree was bare and thought “this is not good news – it is a massive, old tree.” I will remember that fire the rest of my life. I did a post – I will send it in a separate comment. You have to scroll down near the end to see the damage.

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  10. Hi LaShell, what a beautiful story filled with faith, hope, and perseverance. I’m so glad you shared it with us. I’m glad the story isn’t over yet for your grandmother and your friend. I’m also glad that you stopped by to say hi on my blog. It’s amazing how our world full of such emotional highs and lows continues to bring us bloggers together to support each other. Hugs to you and yours! 😊🤗🥰

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  11. LaShelle, I’m glad everything worked out in the end ❤

    This was beautifully written and really portrayed how life is: the ups, the downs, the concerns, the joys. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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