Mom and Dad returned home after a lovely visit built on lasting memories. It was early January 2005 and I was awaiting results from mom’s tests. She had already shared the results from a pet scan, results that showed some activity in her lungs. We were in a holding pattern as her doctor had ordered more tests, a cat scan and some blood work. Here I was again, two potential life transitions taking shape at the same time, one I was definitely not ready for. As my breathing shortened and the muscles in my neck tightened, I braced for what I knew in my heart was not going to be good news from the second round of tests.
At the same time, I was facing a transition to a new role, in a new state. Before that was possible, I first needed to negotiate and secure agreement from my former husband to let me move with my children. As I processed these experiences unfolding one right after the other, I reflected for a moment on how I was doing. In this moment, I was actually feeling a little stronger, a little less like the sky was falling. After surviving the events of the previous eighteen months combined with the continued expansion of my heart, I realized now that maybe I was strong enough to handle more.
I thought about this new role that had been created seemingly out of nowhere and realized that something about it gave me energy, made my heart sing. When I checked in with my lawyer on the likelihood of securing court approval to move with my children, he informed me that the Colorado Supreme Court had blocked two similar cases, even situations where the mom was the primary provider for the children. His recommendation was to convince my former husband directly, bypass the court system, and figure out something that mattered more to him to make this work. Wow. My lawyer really thought I was capable of negotiating an agreement with a man who had chosen opposite sides from me of any topic related to the children since our divorce a year ago. Not so much I thought. That type of agreement was legal and binding and seemed like quite an insurmountable task, definitely not in my direct control. I paused and closed my eyes, asking for answers. I knew my best chance for agreement was to focus on following the job process that was unfolding in front of me, let go, and rely more on my faith that this situation would work out, in the best way for all of us. Maybe my stubbornness and strong will was learning to listen a little more, take a back seat, let my heart lead, and be comfortable expanding my edges beyond what I knew possible.
I was not really looking for a chance to change jobs at this point. My current role was increasingly requiring that I travel more, work more in California at the company headquarters. Traveling often was something I was not able to manage very well. At least not while giving my children love and support they needed and a strong foundation to heal from, with me around. While the role I had been in for almost a year had afforded me the grace of space and time to heal, I was learning to adjust to my new way of life. I was mastering the balancing act of competing demands and juggling my many roles – as a mom, sister, friend, marketing director, house cleaner. In the meantime, my mind increasingly felt like it had fallen asleep.
I was not feeling intellectually challenged in my current job and my creativity seemed stifled. My passion had faded and taken a back seat to day in and day out responsibility. My life was kind of leading me I guess. I had somewhat accepted that as my norm and was not so sure that anything needed to be different. And as I considered this new opportunity that had fallen into my lap, my heart was jumping for joy and guiding me to let go, let something bigger than me reveal the path, if I would just get out of the way and let God lead. My part was taking the action I needed to and becoming clear on what was important to me. My priorities seemed so very simple at this point in my life- what was becoming more important was to be present in each moment and passionate about what I was doing, how I was feeling, versus achieving some feat or conquering the world.
My thoughts shifted back to mom as she awaited more results. My earlier feeling that mom was not long for this world all of a sudden resurfaced from the box I had tucked it away in so neatly. The box was shattered wide open as I listened to her share the news. There were nodules in her left lung that required a biopsy the following week, she said. I could hear the fear in her voice as it cracked when she read the report to me. It didn’t look like cancer on one report but did on another, she said. What did that mean, I wondered, how is it they couldn’t tell? I could feel that mom was in shock and didn’t want to talk anymore. I hung up and imagined wrapping my arms and love around her, prayed that God would fill her with grace. On one level, I had been preparing for this day, on another, I was in complete denial. My heart knew I had to let go and honor mom’s journey as it unfolded, that I had no control and couldn’t change the outcome. In that moment, I was grateful that mom was still seeing her oncologist in Houston who had guided her so successfully through her breast cancer and recommended the surgeon who had operated on her a year before. When mom had returned from our visit a few weeks earlier, Dr. Smith had recommended the tests and now the reason for mom’s pain was being revealed, one test result at a time.