Psalm for Wednesday Morning Chemo

For Melissa

I do not (as far as I know) have cancer. But, these days, I find myself living life alongside a dear friend who does. This is for her – and for anyone else who finds themself on this hard new journey: a psalm, a prayer, a simple grasp toward hope.

photo credit: limowreck666 via photopin cc
photo credit: limowreck666 via photopin cc

God of water and wilderness
and of hospital rooms, filled with IVs
smelling of antiseptic and latex:
To you we pray.

Glory. Glory.
Glory.

You have counted the hairs on my head,
so You know, too, about the ones falling out.
The way I feel every morning:
like I’m combing away a part of myself,
becoming someone I hardly recognize.

Still, I have to believe that you who number things like hair and stars
and the grains of sand of these ten thousand fall-frozen lakes
must know each of the 37.2 trillion cells in my traitor body.
Including the renegade ones —
those damn cancer cells, dividing, dividing —
Dividing my whole life into Before Cancer
and Now. Here.
Waiting.

I’ll admit, it’s hard to savor your goodness
when everything tastes like metal.
And if I’m having trouble trusting it, Lord,
It’s only because I’m afraid.

Here is what I know:
You are the God who sees —
not just the ocean’s surface
but every creature in its endless deep.
You who watch the jellyfish dance
and listen to the whale sing her mournful song
and know where the sea turtle
lays her eggs —
you see me too:
my heart, my fear, my hopes —
and even those odd-shaped cells
with their multiple nuclei
and their coarse chromatin —
and all their capacity for destruction.

Your eyes do not look away:
Not from the sparrow
falling.
Not from me,
as I sit here in Wednesday morning chemo.
The drugs are pumping
into the port they cut into my chest —
the place I held my babies when they were small.
The place where you say you’re holding me
now.

The weak fall light is straining through the windows —
and the trees —
they are almost entirely bare now.
They look a little haunted in the absence of leaves,
but I bet you know
exactly
how many leaves fell.
And I bet you’ve already planned it all out:
how many leaves
exactly
will grow there when spring comes back.

It always comes back.

And it’s Wednesday morning.
Again.
And all there is to do is sit.
The medicine courses, again, into my body,
and all I can do is
Receive.
All I can do is
Pray
to the God who sees it all:

Especially that which I
cannot. 

Glory. Glory.

Glory.

14 thoughts on “Psalm for Wednesday Morning Chemo

  1. “And if I’m having trouble trusting it, Lord, it’s only because I am afraid.” Fear is like a damn octopus, if it doesn’t grab you with the cancer tentacle, it will get you with another one. Will lift your friend up for strength and peace. I have an online friend, not even out of her 30s, two small kids, fighting this beast. I am going to send her the link to this, I think she would appreciate it. Thanks, Addie.

  2. This has stopped me in my tracks. It is late at night here in Australia, I’m awake because of the pain in my back. Initially we thought the cancer had returned, thankfully we found out it had not. The chemotherapy has caused by bones to weaken, I now have osteoarthritis in my back causing pain and constant sleep disturbance. The chemotherapy was two years ago, but the after effects live on.

    I am praying for your friend and thanking God for your friendship to them. We all need someone like you in our lives. Bless you Addie.

  3. I’m speechless. This. This is amazing and cut right through my heart. Praying for Melissa.

  4. Cancer is a ravenous beast spawning directly from the depths of Hell. It does not fight fair, it
    sucker punches you when you’re not looking, and then attempts to steal everything
    you call your own. Your life, your family, your thoughts. But it cannot steal our
    Belief. It cannot steal our Faith. Our God is bigger. So screw you cancer. (Thank you, Addie, for the beautiful post!)

  5. Addie – I could not get past the first stanza — the tears clouded my vision. A very dear friend is starting chemo again, following radiation, for her O.C. which has returned with vengeance. Her ovaries hate her … in absentia, and this time she is not just annoyed, as before. This time she is scared. And I am scared for and with her. *weeping through prayers*

  6. Our little Sojourn family has been dealt some mighty blows recently. Where I struggle to process the emotions and grief, you identify it. Where I can’t make the right words form, the words flow from your pen (keyboard) like nothing I have ever seen before. While I would like to give you all of the credit, I can’t. I can’t because I can tell these words are flowing directly from the Holy Spirit. Thank you for answering your call. Thank you for sharing your precious gift.
    Melissa, I love you!
    –Liz

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