And here are the lyrics.
My grandfather died when I was 14. It was the “C” word, of course. Cancer. I remember riding in my grandmother’s convertible Le Baron one sunny afternoon, when Brenda Lee’s “Break It To Me Gently” came on the radio. And in a rare moment of true vulnerability, she told about those first days after out that she was about to lose the man who she had shared her life with. She told me about the deep longing for just one more day. For time to slow down so she could be with him just a little bit longer. Hold him and be held just so she could have the time to let it sink in. She told me about this song. I remember the wind in her hair and the sun on her face as she stared off into the distance, singing the song, gently under her breath. Just loud enough so that I could barely hear the catch in her throat as she lost herself in the memory. In that moment, she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her strength was burned in my memory. And so were the lyrics and melody of that song. I’ve never forgotten it.
I knew then, at fourteen years old, that this song was powerful. If ever I found myself facing such a situation, that song would comfort me. It would soothe me, strengthen me. I know that if I’m ever faced with losing my husband, Brenda Lee will be there for me. I will put my kids to bed, find the song on youtube and listen to it over and over while I wail in unhindered abandon until I’m able to face reality.
And the reality is that my husband is fine. He is healthy and well. But my mother has cancer…
Last week she went to the dermatologist to have a small cyst removed from her scalp. They see them all of the time, they said. Typically not a big deal at all, they told her. But just in case they always send it off for testing. Monday afternoon the dermatologist had to eat her words. The cyst was actually a cancerous tumor. And the tumor burst so they need to go back in and remove more of the skin around it so that it doesn’t spread. Mom acted like it was no bid deal. Didn’t ask questions. When I asked her what’s next she said. “Well, I guess we’ll just go through the process.” That day I told my sister “She’s treating it like it’s nothing more than an ingrown hair!”
We pressed her to call back and get more information. So the next morning, she did. We found that it is a low-grade, rare skin cancer. Highly treatable, although the bursting isn’t a good thing because no one wants this to spread. It’s called a Proliferating Trichilemmal Tumor. Ironically, if you read the description, you’ll find that Mom and I were both right. On a basic level it is an ingrown, cancerous hair follicle. Nice, huh?
This week has been rough. Friday was an amazing, powerful birth that took all of the strength and ability in me to serve this sweet family. I woke up after a few hours of sleep the next day sick. Vomiting for hours and poor Selah was on couch next to me until Sunday night. Monday we spent the whole day at Selah’s film shoot, which was a fantastic experience for my sweet girl. Monday afternoon was the first call about mom, but who had time to process it with homework to do and Travis packing to go out of town at Butt-crack next morning? Tuesday we were back at the shoot, then I had to make dinner for small group and take the kids alone. Which was good to get out and get prayer, but Oh! the state of my kitchen after that whirlwind! And, of course, I had to sleep alone. Not my thing, at all. Wednesday Lucas woke up sick and miserable. I kept him home and cared for him all day. Luckily he was better to go back yesterday. I was able to take Eden to the park and get some errands done. Today I woke up with a sore throat again. And did I mention that the truck battery died on Tuesday and I ran out of gas on I75 today? Seriously. Haven’t had a minute to face this until now.
Anyway, so it’s not that dramatic in and of itself, now that we know the details about the cancer. Regardless, it certainly started a train of thought. All of the “what ifs” between strained family members, what holidays could look like in the future. I’m gonna be honest. Being a Fowler is amazing, but like any family there’s lots or drama, lots of crap and I don’t have the highest hopes for a Cosby- like-future. I’m not sure how it will be handled when the inevitable comes, and Mom is gone. It’s a sobering thing to think about. I don’t want to do it.
If you look back through my history and posts, you’ll see that I use song lyrics often. They speak to me. They challenge me. They move my heart. Many of my post titles are song lyrics. Heck, half of my facebook statuses are song lyrics or quotes that challenged me to think. So, once again I’ve turned to a song to bring me back to center. I guess I’m like my Grandma in that way.
While many hymns and sweet spiritual songs have come to mind over the past few days, it’s Brenda Lee that has finally helped me stop life for a minute. She’s been here with me and Jesus, while I finally take a few to sit down on my couch and cry. And of course, the other way I process things is to blog. So here I am laying it all out there, like the mess that I am. A completely vulnerable, blubbering fool, bawling while I type and listen to Brenda. I think I’ve hit play 5 times while typing. Don’t ask me how many tissues are on the couch beside me. I’m not counting.
My mother will be fine. She will go in Monday for more details, and next week she will have more skin removed. In most people’s opinions, I’m overreacting. But I’m the kinda girl that has to think through and process. Everything. Always.
So thanks for reading and letting me lay it out there. On a happy note, ROOFING SAMPLES CAME TODAY!! I have in my hand, the colors for us to choose our kick-butt, rocking tin roof. After 3 weeks of a standstill on construction, we’ll be moving forward again shortly.
Now, I’m going to go make 10 Minute Gluten Free Mini-Pizzas for the kids to take to Community Night at church.
I leave you with the beautiful voice of Brenda Lee. Who knows. Maybe it will move you to tears, too.