Saturday, May 11, 2013


For those of you who might remember, I published a post last spring called, “OK God, I Give Up!”  To summarize briefly, I had had an epiphany of sorts at mass one Sunday.  I realized that I had been badgering God to the point that I was picturing Him with earplugs on.  That’s not a very comforting picture, especially when you realize that He truly is the only one who can do anything about my problem – this vile, repulsive, cowardly disease that is trying to kill me!  Doctors and drugs can only do so much.  After that, it’s up to The Boss. 

At that time, I had come to the conclusion that I would stop badgering, whining, and pleading and just put everything into His hands.  Not the usual “Let go and let God.”  Remember, I’m a control freak!  This was more of a deal.  I realized that only He had the power to solve my problem so I told Him I would accept whatever He chose to do about my health – but I was DONE with pleading”  In exchange, I offered to do some smaller things for Him – things I did have control over.  It actually worked very well for quite a while.  I placed all the big things in His lap and He sent me little things to do for Him.  Then the Funk set in – sent, I’m sure, by the creator of the maniacal killer inside me – the Devil!  I’m convinced that’s who invented this disease. Of course mankind helped him with our lifestyle choices, but that’s another story!

I need to begin at the beginning.  When we moved to the beach about a year and a half ago and first started going to this church, Our Lady Star of the Sea in New Smyrna Beach, one thing really annoyed me. I’ve been in many, many churches in my life and I can’t remember one that  didn’t have a huge crucifix over the main altar.  When you knelt down and looked up, that’s the first thing you would see.  It was a focal point, the central direction of your prayers.  This church had no such crucifix – well it does in the back of the church, but not where my brain is used to seeing it.  Instead it has a magnificent stained glass window showing Mary standing in a raging sea holding a staff with a brilliant star at the top.  The window faces east, so the rising sun catches the colors of the star and it is truly mesmerizing.  But, beautiful as it is, it was still a distraction to me.  I had trouble praying to Jesus when Mary was staring back at me with waves crashing around her.  Eventually I managed to gather my powers of concentration – sometimes – and pray accordingly.  But it still bugged me!  I must emphasize, however, that we LOVE everyone and everything else about this beautiful and welcoming parish. 

Last Sunday it all came together for me.  Spring must be my time for epiphanies.  I was scheduled as a Eucharist Minister that morning, so Fred and I sat in a different area of the church.  I found myself staring at eyes that I swear were staring back.  I was seeing the huge window from a slightly different angle and something struck me.  Most statues and photos of Mary show Her to be meek and gentle and generally motherly.  This window is definitely not that Mary.  This is Mary the warrior.  This is Mary the guardian, the protector – this is the Mother who will lay down Her life for Her children!  Wow!  This is who I want on my side. 

When I was in high school, Our Lady of Wisdom Academy in New York, I belonged to clubs that were dedicated to Mary, but I can’t say that I’ve ever had a very deep devotion to Her.  That’s not to say I don’t believe in Her, or pray to Her, or love and honor Her.  I just never developed that personal relationship that so many people have – my Dad, for one. He trusted Her completely and believed that She could and would do anything for him.  And She did, many times.  His trust was completely unwavering and it was definitely rewarded. 

Okay, so, consider this series of events.  We moved to New Smyrna Beach DIRECTLY across the street from Our Lady Star of the Sea.  I can look out my bedroom window, or sit on my back balcony, and see the 25+ foot stained glass window.  When the lights are on inside the church, I can see Mary holding that staff and calming the raging seas.  About 100 feet south on the church property is a grotto to, guess who – Mary.  It’s even got benches in front, beautiful flowers around it, and lights on it at night. I see it every time I go in and out of my apartment.  I’ve been there twice, to show some visitors.  Do you see the irony?  How stupid am I? 

This is the secret passage way, the back door, the private entrance I’ve been looking for.  I’ve prayed to so many saints and angels.  I haunted Jesus so often I began to picture Him wearing ear plugs to blot out my begging and pleading. But I never thought of His Mother!!!  She’s God’s mother for all eternity!  Who doesn’t listen to His Mother??? Well, maybe that’s not a valid question.  No one ever listens to his mother all the time – but I’ll bet Jesus does!!! Who better to have on my side? 

I’m just in the processing stage right now.  I’ve acknowledged that we were obviously put here in this parish, in this location, in this apartment for a reason.  I’ve acknowledged that Mary is trying to get my attention – and this time she definitely has.  I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to realize it.  I was so distracted by my epiphany on Sunday that I miscounted something I should have been paying attention to on the altar.  So, when I got up there to serve, my miscount caused a slight bobble.  Hopefully it wasn’t too noticeable.  Oh well, Mary definitely captured my full attention and got Her point across. 

I’ve begun thinking about Her and reading a lot of old prayer cards and novenas, trying to see the warrior in the gentle woman I’ve always pictured.  It will take time, I’m sure – and I’m not planning on trying to make any deals with Her.  After all, I’m a mother too and deals never worked very well with me.  Now that I think of it, as a mother I’ve had to show many sides.  I’ve been gentle, loving, not so much meek, but generally mothering to my children (I hope).  But I also remember times when I had to be a staunch protector and fierce warrior when it came to them.  Why wouldn’t She be the same?  And I’ll bet Her son won’t be wearing earplugs when She brings my petitions to Him!

TIP FOR THE DAY:  Sometimes we need to stop praying, and whining, and pleading and just listen.  Conversations are a two way street – especially with heaven!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


 Susan Gubar is a distinguished emerita professor of English at Indiana University and the author of Memoir of a Debulked Woman,” which explores her experience with ovarian cancer. She also writes a blog called “Living With Cancer” at   One of her recent blogs began as follows: 

“Some cancer patients adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with their doctors. Either they are more afraid or more brave than I am. I keep on asking, though the telling sometimes jolts me.
“How long do you think these pills will work?” I ask about the experimental drug trial in which I participate.
“About six months,” my oncologist says.
“What do we do then?” I am trying not to look upset.
“There are chemo options,” she explains.
“For how long?” I persist.
“For as long as they work,” she smiles.
“My doctor would probably not volunteer such disturbing information, but she responds to my inquiries with an honesty on which I depend. Still, the conversation resembles a catechism. I have posed these queries before, heard the responses before, and been shocked by them before. She bears with me.”

I’ve done the very same thing, but in different words. I like to use euphemism “slippery slope” – as in, “Have I started sliding down the slope yet?”  So far the answer has always been a resounding “No!”  I know the slope is there and I know my medical team of angels is too honest to lie to me, so I don’t ask as frequently as I used to.  See – “don’t ask, don’t tell.”   We all have different worries and questions about the future and, in all fairness, the oncologists don’t always know the answer. And knowing me, I would definitely read much more into the “I really don’t have an answer to that” expression – probably something like you have 8 minutes to live! I have such an annoyingly vivid imagination. 

I used to sleep through the night – most nights anyway since I no longer have little ones calling me to exorcise the ghosts from under their beds – and no bigger ones testing their curfews.  Now I seem to have an inner alarm that goes off about 3:00 AM.  That’s about the time when the trailers of future blockbusters run through my head.  All the unasked questions, all the gruesome rumors I’ve heard but am afraid to Google (in case they might be true), all the alarming coming attractions that may or may not ever be seen.  

 These thoughts try to break through during the daytime also, but there’s always something to chase them away.  I get up and look at the ever-changing ocean and all my beautiful and entertaining birds.  Sometimes I just put a load of laundry in or plan dinner – something mundane to chase away the goblins.  But in the pitch black of the early morning hours, distractions are more difficult to find.  Somehow my husband seems to have a sixth sense and will usually respond with one arm thrown across me and a gentle squeeze, letting me know he’s there with me and for me – even if he can’t see the film playing in my head! 

Since my current goal is to drag myself out of that pit of quicksand (and midnight showings of my personal horror movies) on my way to the mythical Phoenix, I have been searching for something to grasp – something to latch onto and lift me up.  For the past 4 years and 11 months since my diagnosis, I have tried hundreds of coping mechanisms.  Novenas to St. Anthony and St. Jude, and a few other saints I’d never heard of before, Yoga classes, meditation, exercise, relaxation, visualization, manicures & pedicures (don’t laugh), less wine, more wine, comedy movies. You name it and I’ve probably tried it (not the macrobiotic route though).  Anything that involves giving up my wine would never work.  After all, Quality of Life is important, too!

Yesterday, looking for a distraction, I decided to sort and file a stack of bills, receipts, and general “whatever.”  I came across a paper I had printed quite a while ago.  It was a mixture of sayings and short prayers that I had accumulated from a bunch of different sources.  They had so moved me at the time that I put them all on one piece of paper intending to use it every day to keep me on track.  Like so many other things in my life, it wound up at the bottom of a pile of other good intentions.  Some of these are from a very dear friend of mine who tries her very best to keep me healthy, happy, and positive. I would like to share them with you.  Whether you’re fighting cancer, or living with it, or just trying to get through each day, I hope you will find something here that will make the journey more tranquil and serene!  Just reading these has already begun to work for me!  Thank you Lois!!!

  • “If there is anyone or anything that has hurt you in the past – forgive and release it.    If you have hurt anyone or anything in the past, forgive yourself and release it.  If you have hurt yourself in the past, forgive yourself and release it.”
  • Stay connected to yourself!
  • Notice how you are feeling but do not judge your feelings!
  • Keep finding that place of hope within yourself!
  • Focus less on waiting and on what may happen and live in the present!
  • Take time out twice a day to find that place of peace within yourself.  Find oneness with the Divine.
Today may there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.  God Bless!