Thursday, May 6, 2021

Touch of the Master’s Hand

 I’m talking with my father-in-law. It’s a deep conversation, reminiscent of three weeks ago when I told him I had a strange peace come over me along with the thought that I’ll be in remission...someday. 

Today is a follow-up to that. “Oh, that reminds me,” he says. “I have something for you to read and something for you to keep.” So he leaves the table and comes back with a faded envelope that says “June 2007.”

“You’re only the second person to read this,” he says, then slides the envelope across the table.

So, I hold it gingerly—sacredly—since I know this is important to a man I respect so much. After all my dad and my father-in-law got me through my last rounds of radiation because I kept thinking about how they both had cancer and were brave enough to continue fighting so they could survive. That means I better do the same.

I open the letter and find it hard to breathe. It’s the story of how a strange peace came to him, of how during his darkest hour HE somehow knew that one day he’d be okay. It’s amazing really, a true testament of faith.

I hand the envelope back. 

“And this is for you to keep,” he says. 

That softhearted Italian smiles as my eyes light with wonder. “I carved it for you,” he says. 

I’m soon discovering every detail of the violin now in front of me, tears fill my eyes—and a memory fills my heart.

I was 16. The group had asked for a violinist to help them with a play. “We’ll tell the story,” the woman said, “of a battered violin an auctioneer tries selling. But no one wants it. And when the auctioneer is about to just give it away, someone steps from the audience and plays the violin to show its true worth.”  

They picked me to play the violin during this story. After I played, the auctioneer would get so many bids that the worn violin would sell for thousands upon thousands of dollars. It was such a beautifully touching event, and the people in attendance really did seem enchanted as I played the violin and walked among them before actors “placed their bids.”

I think of this as I study the little violin my father-in-law made for me. And just when I think I’ve seen everything, I notice a laminated note hanging from the bow. “What is this?” I ask, and then my breath catches because it’s the story from the play I’d been in: The Touch of the Master’s Hand.


We’ve been given so much by so many people. I don’t even know how to begin thanking everyone. But just know that it’s this kindness and strength that are buoying me forward. And through it all, I’m seeing how awesome life is when—even through the heartache—we have the courage to see that God has a plan. I feel like He’s leaving breadcrumbs, little signs to let me know that things will be okay. I’m so grateful for these signs. Despite illness and trials, I am the luckiest. I’m so grateful for everything, and for the amazing people who are in my life.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Literal “Rock” Music

So, someone left this rock on our porch—probably not knowing I’d try to play the notes on it! You might be surprised to hear what song it turned out to be! 

🎼 🎵 🎶 

To whoever gave this to us, thank you so much. 🥰

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Gibson Jack Trail

Walk about half a mile and you’ll reach this vast peak right before the trail dives into the most beautiful valley you’ve ever seen. There are sage hens, deer, rabbits...moose! You might even see a mountain lion (if you’re unlucky). I’ve been there plenty of times, hiking a few miles in until I reach a bubbling stream where I eat my lunch and pretend I’m a nymph—or something. I’ve even played my violin there. Sometimes the forest mutes itself when I fiddle, and other times, when I coax soft melodies from my violin, birds have stared as if they’ve never seen a violin before! (I remember that magical feeling.)

Mike and the kids have gone with me, visiting this secret place. And we always have some strange adventure like the time a deer almost ran into us or when we realized a moose had been following us the whole time!

But, now that I can’t hike to my favorite place, I’ve been dreaming about it. Last week I didn’t know if I could continue treatments, so sick beyond words. But today is better because I have a goal.

It can be exhausting just walking to the mailbox. In fact, sometimes I have to lie down afterward and rest. We still don’t know what my prognosis is: They gave me two years at first, but now I might have much, much longer. And even though we’re living from scan to scan, I’ve made up my mind. 

I’m gonna reach that peak again—the one half a mile in. If I can get a cane, check the mail each day, then go to the mailbox eight times a day...well, I can persevere to that peak! So, I can’t make it to my favorite place YET, but at least I can stand in the wind and look down on that gorgeous valley. 

I’m determined, and baby steps are gonna get me there. I can’t wait to post a picture when I reach that peak! Let’s do this thing!


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Live You’re Dying

Fall of last year I had stage 4 cancer—but I didn’t know it yet. I’d seen several doctors who persisted that this was regular back pain. “We’ve seen a lot of this in 2020, people sitting more than normal. You’re one of many facing the same issue.”

Yet, the pain seemed anything but normal. If I could describe turning into a zombie, this pain would be it. Frustrated and a bit disheartened from my last visit to the doctor, I finished my remote work and went outside to watch the kids play.

I stretched my hurt leg, and raved over how well my kids could scooter and skateboard. 

That’s when it happened—out of nowhere a massive grasshopper jumped right next to me on the porch steps!

I have a healthy respect for big bugs. For example, if I see a small spider I can kill it. But if it’s a tarantula—I’m not about to use a thin toilet paper barrier to feel it burst beneath my fingers. Gross, right?! 

So, the lord of all grasshoppers eyed me with his beautiful emerald eyes, turned to watch my children, and sat like a dog! He was so perfectly majestic sitting there, shining in all his glory like an expensive knickknack. And I was completely captivated. In fact, I didn’t move because this massive creature was fascinating! After about five minutes, my son suddenly jogged over, jolted up the stairs, and ran inside to get some water.

I let out a muffled cry. Next to me twitched the beautiful, SLIGHTLY SQUASHED, bug! He’d lost a leg, and after a moment he tried standing, but simply turned in circles over and over on his side.

A woman must have heard me cry out because she ran over from the street. “Is everything okay? Are you all right?”

When I pointed to the spinner next to me she broke out laughing. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Is everything going okay?” a man yelled from the street.

What the hell was happening? Was our entire town out for a jog—in front of my house?

“You never would’ve made it on a farm,” she said. Then the woman turned away from me. “Hey, John. She’s fine. Just too innocent for this world.”

My brows transformed into an angry ‘V.’ Someone had used those same words about my oldest son, right before he died. “Too innocent.” Who were they to judge me anyway? At least I wasn’t wearing a sports bra  and wedgie shorts in public!

Anyway, my youngest looked at the flailing grasshopper. “Wow, you really loved him? Didn’t you?” she whispered.

“He was awesome. But now something is wrong with him.” 

Just like I knew SOMETHING was wrong with me....

When my son resurfaced from the house, we tried to help “The King” stand, but he kept falling. “Oh, my gosh!” I quaked.

“We’re giving him multiple concussions! Mom, he’s gonna die!” my son said.

An old truck rumbled into the driveway. Mike jumped out, so happy to be off work. “What’s wrong?” His smile flatlined after seeing my concern.


“’s a bug.”

“But it isn’t just any bug. He’s broken now—like I know I am. You should’ve seen how kingly and majest—”

Mike kicked him into our flowerbed and then placed a rock on him! “And now he’s out of his misery.”

Mike and the kids went inside. Indy mouthed through the screen door, “I’m sorry, Mama.” must be genetic. 

And I stayed on the steps. 

You see, I innately knew a laborious, painful journey waited in my future. Only a few weeks later, a radiologist finally discovered the cancer. And my life changed forever. Multiple rounds of unending infusions, several series of radiation... We’re only five months in, and I’m already so exhausted beyond comprehension.

It sounds so arbitrary to remember the king of all grasshoppers, but it just shows how the little things stand out when we’re having a hard time. 

Some people are dying to live healthy lives while other people start livin’ when they’re dyin’.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Two Doors: Regret and Love

 I’m 20 years old. My marriage is in shambles, and, as such, I’m the sole breadwinner, working two jobs just to pay the mortgage. But this isn’t a sad day. I sit in a carpeted hallway, expectantly facing a closed white door. I have a whole day off—and adventure awaits!

It seems like forever and unfortunately my eyes keep wandering to another door that conceals a bedroom down the hallway. But I tell myself to never go down there...ever.

I’m just about to get sucked down the hall, when I hear a little noise, something I’ve been waiting for.

I open the white door and can hardly contain my joy. My very own princess, my perfect baby stands in her crib. Curly hair frames her face, and she giggles when she sees me. We are Heaven—to each other. I whisk her up, and we spin.

The morning is a blur of reading, singing, and playing. I hold her on my hip and cook up new ideas for lunch. But I only finish when she’s tasted the final product, and she points her cubby finger in approval. 

After she eats, I clean her up, and her long eyelashes start to flutter. But I don’t just want to put her in bed. She falls asleep, finally closing her eyes after staring into mine with such love. And I hold her there in my arms. I don’t care how we’re both so young, or how tired I am from working too many hours, or how worried I am about divorce. My baby, well, she’s MY world.

After a while, I bring Ruby to her crib and cover her with the best blanket we own.

It’s only then that I can’t resist the pull down the hallway. There’s another crib in there, an empty crib. Tears flood my eyes as I remember my baby boy who died. And I must have been there a long time. After an eternity of silence, I hear my little girl down the hallway. 

I rush to her, whisk her up again and hold her tight. She hugs me back, always making everything better. I wipe my eyes so she won’t know anything’s wrong, kiss her on the forehead, and ask what adventure we should go on next! We pull out her blocks, and instead of focusing on things that are broken and sad, the two of us begin building.


I thought of this memory because I threw up blood this week. Turns out I needed to come off my blood thinner, but it was still a scary experience considering everything I’m going through.

And that night as I told myself that despite pain, more intense cancer treatments, and the fear they inevitably bring, what keeps me strong is my family and friends. 

In life we often have two doors to chose from. Regardless of our circumstances, instead of regret and bitterness, choose love.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Day I Stopped Believing in Jesus

 The Day I Stopped Believing in Jesus 

Even though we only attend church for our kids, the pastor and a deacon asked if they could talk with me and Mike after church today. I was surprised when they gave us the most wonderful card—and said how they’ve still been praying for my full recovery. 

I immediately explained that although I know Jesus existed, I don’t think he’s the son of God. Although I’d expected a reaction—or for them to snatch the card back—this confession didn’t even phase them. Instead, they said how much they love our family. AND as we spoke, I finally realized why I don’t believe in Christ anymore....

I was such a strong Christian years ago. So, why did that end?

People might think it’s when my son died. But that wasn’t when I stopped believing in Jesus; that’s when I momentarily stopped praying to God.

I wasn’t “mad” at Him—my heart was sad, devastated beyond words. I’d prayed for my son to live; how could God need him even more than I did???

So, no. That’s not when I stopped believing in the power of Jesus. It happened when I was 17 and Christians who loved Jesus—as much as I did—performed an exorcism on me.

I wasn’t legally married. I made a mistake: I had sex. Leaders swore that a demon had been transferred to me during the act....

The lead exorcist (the assistant pastor) made me sit in a pea-green kids’ chair. For a moment I actually wondered if I was possessed because people I trusted implicitly said so. 

“Open your eyes, demon!” the assistant pastor repeated until he practically shook me, and yelled, “open your eyes!”

My little heart quaked inside, so scared. The look on his face. The vein bulging from his forehead. None of this felt right. “What’s your name?” he yelled, tiny bits of saliva flying. He—and the rest of the group—seemed so excited. An exorcism. This was a big deal.

I told him my name is Elisa. He grabbed me by the shoulders and leaned on me because the chair I sat in was so low to the ground. “I’m going to need everyone’s help with this one,” he said.

He kept asking for my name. His grip got harder, and my left shoulder actually hurt. Then everyone shoved their hands on me with SUCH a mob mentality. I’ve never felt claustrophobic like that, but the whole room came in on me. I couldn’t move. I started shaking when I realized my real name wasn’t good enough—of course they thought the shaking was a demon. 

“Self righteousness,” I yelled, and I’m mortified to confess that I actually went along with it....

“Hallelujah, Jehovah!” the bad-breath exorcist said. “I know there are more in there. Tell us your names!”

Other people joined in with demands, clamoring for a piece of me.

“I don’t feel anything evil inside me, guys. I don’t feel…anything evil. I want to leave!”


“Violence!” I yelled and tried standing again. “Rebellion… Suicide!” I would say anything to leave that claustrophobic room with the pea-green chair. The grips got harder as I went on and on, hoping I could finally discover the secret password to freedom.

A while later it finally stopped because apparently the demons had flown out the window or something. The exorcists left the room so they could call the main pastor, and I stayed, crying in that pea-green chair. I remember turning around and kneeling down—begging God for help. 

They had as much conviction as I did. But it was a different conviction. I made a mistake; I didn’t think that made me possessed. We had all believed in Jesus—the same Jesus. And they had ALL turned on me. How could they believe something with so much conviction. Maybe that could make me wrong too. 


And as I spoke with the kind pastor of the Baptist church today, that’s what I thought about: when people did an exorcism on me over two decades ago...the day I stopped believing in Jesus.

Friday, April 16, 2021

A Gong and an Angel

 The gong resounded. Another person had finished infusions. Dozens of people clapped despite the IVs in their arms, and I’m sure most of us smiled under our masks. BUT...I had to wonder if anyone else feels the same way I do: that I might never get to hit the gong—that I might never be done with stupid infusions—that I might never...get...better. I suddenly wanted to pick up the mallet and go hit it hundreds of times just to say I have. But I’m not a two-year-old, so I didn’t.

I also kept myself from saying any of this out loud. My mother-in-law sat beside me as medicine dripped directly into my veins. And we really were having the best time visiting and laughing; I didn’t need to mar that with a sob story. 

A woman near us spoke to a nurse, “He’s awfully sad. He needs to do this.”

My ears perked with interest! Who was sad? Who needed to do what?! Then I heard the strangest thing. A man’s voice began singing songs that I remembered from childhood — spiritual songs that are hard to forget.

And as he quietly sang “How Great Thou Art,” I suddenly wanted to sing with him — this faceless man who sat in another cubicle — and the desire mounted stronger than almost anything in the world.

But it seemed pretty embarrassing to sing in front of my mother-in-law AND in front of the more than 50 other people in the room. Sure they couldn’t see me in my cubicle, but they would hear me.

“I’ll be right back,” my mother-in-law said as if hearing my thoughts, and when she walked away the man started singing one of my favorite songs in the whole world.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

I slammed my mouth shut. I’m not even religious anymore. I go to church and I love God with all of my heart, but I don’t believe most of the things they teach. And yet, I could not control myself. I breathed deeply. I didn’t need to sing with this poor man. Why was the desire overpowering?

“Holy,” my voice joined his. “Holy, hoooooly...” the harmony floated atop his deep baritone—matching perfectly in thirds. He must’ve heard me because his voice swelled with strength. He’d been shaky and scared at one point, but now his song grew strong and majestic.

“Hooooolllly, holy, holy,” the words just flowed. And as we got louder everyone in the room quieted and simply listened to a moment that will always resonate within my soul.

We sang several verses and as much as it had grown, it finally came to a quiet, beautiful close.

When we finished, a woman said, “Did you... Did you...hear that voice singing with you?”

“You heard it too?” the man asked, sounding dumbfounded.

And even though we’re not supposed to bother other patients, I grabbed my IV stand, stood from my chair, and peeked over my cubicle. “It was me!” I said, almost giggling.

A stunning girl of about 20 stared at me with the widest eyes. Her dark skin glowed perfectly, and I knew she beamed under her mask. “That was amazing you started singing too. I can’t believe you knew the words.”

“Thanks for letting me join in. Hang in there, you two. This isn’t easy!” And although I couldn’t see the man from my angle, I sat down and watched as my mother-in-law returned to the room.

“I sang with him!” I said. “It was awesome!”

My mother-in-law laughed. She’s the sweetest woman, so full of love even though I’m the most random person ever.

The singer and his guest must’ve left soon after because a couple of the nurses came over to me and said, “That man was so sad and scared. His daughter said singing always makes him feel better. And what you both did… Well that is one of the neatest things we’ve had happen in here.”

“I couldn’t help myself.” Then I followed with, “But I think next time you guys need to join in!”

“I really wanted to, but I didn’t know the words. And then I realized, nobody wants to hear me sing!” one of the nurses said, laughing.

“I do! So, I want you guys to get ready for it. I’ll be back in three weeks. But while all of you are singing, I get to play the gong!” I could just see myself going crazy with the gong, like it’s Christopher Walken’s famous cowbell!

So, it’s probably my favorite memory from this crappy cancer business—so far anyway: the time I got to sing with a perfect stranger who found some unexpected strength in the infusion unit. Oh and it helped that people actually thought someone like me was a real, LIVE angel! 🤣 “It was me!” 💜💜💜

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Three Fates of Radiation

Yesterday was my last day of radiation and something so strange happened. I entered the waiting room and soon after three women came in and then remained, quietly watching TV. I can never be quiet, so after a moment I struck up a conversation. “What are you in for?” I asked. It’s no secret that we all have cancer; I just wanted to know which kinds they are afflicted from. “I have melanoma,” I overshared.

“Forget what I HAD. I’m almost done,” one woman beamed as she spoke. “I’m getting better!” But she sat in a wheelchair and she later explained that she could no longer walk because of the surgeries she’d undergone to remove the cancer. As she spoke I wanted to join in her joy, but I had a feeling that things weren’t quite as good as she conveyed. 

The next woman—with long blonde hair compared to everyone’s shorn heads—doesn’t have a very advanced breast cancer and is getting treatments to solidify her full remission.

And the last woman remained quiet—stoic.

Finally I asked, “What have you learned from this?”

“That God is good,” the woman in the wheelchair said.

“I’m a lawyer,” the woman with Elsa’s hair said. “I’ve just learned again that life sucks.”

It wasn’t long after that both the woman in the wheelchair and Elsa were called back for radiation.

It was after a while that the third woman spoke, but she was so terribly hard to understand. “You asked,” she lisped, “what I’ve learned. I haven’t really learned, but it’s been confirmed that life isn’t fair.”

“You got that right!”

She went on to explain that the cancer started in her tongue and she had to have some of it removed.

I blinked back tears. Because I suddenly knew why she’d been so scared to talk in front of the others. 

“They’re doing radiation on my neck now.” She spoke slowly. “The cancer...has spread.”

“I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. I thought I’d been on one helluva journey!”

“But you don’t look like there’s anything even wrong with you!”

A male tech came and called my name. At that point I struggled to stand and my back had been pulled so badly that I hunched over and tried to walk straight.

The woman gasped, so surprised to see how I walked. “Talking with you was the best part of my day,” I said. “I’m Elisa.”

“Sarah,” she said, placing her hand in her chest. 

And that’s how my last day went after having gone through various sets and weeks of intensive radiation.

I’ll never forget those people and what cancer taught them. I could honestly fill a book with what it’s teaching me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

In God’s Hands

On Saturday the side effects from radiation got so bad that I didn’t know if I could continue treatments. It might sound pathetic and weak, but the only thing I’d really kept down for six days was an orange. And although I kept dumping fluids down myself, it felt like pouring water into a hole-filled bucket.

Finally, when things seemed their worst, I crawled into bed.

“Are you okay?” Mike asked.

“Mike, I’m scared. I’m so dehydrated and sick. I feel feverish. If things don’t get better fast, I’ll need to go to the ER.”

Mike brought me some food and a drink. I tried to eat slowly, but despite anti-nausea medications I could already feel my stomach churning.

“Mike,” I finally said, “can you please pray for me?”

Mike doesn’t pray. But he did then—and it meant the world to me. After falling asleep, I saw the most amazing thing! I rested in the fetal position in God’s massive hand. I couldn’t see anything other than His hand and the sky which He lifted me into. And even though I didn’t have a blanket, it felt so warm and perfect. This strange energy flowed through every bit of me, simply filling me with peace. And even in the dream, a strange thought came to me: that someday I’d be in remission.

This sounds crazy because all of the doctors have said I have an incurable mutation of melanoma. Even if radiation and the new immunotherapy DO work, they will only extent my life, not save it. Yet, there was this feeling...and an unimaginably beautiful dream.

That morning I woke up stunned that I’d kept the food down. I sat at the kitchen table with Dee and Trey. I couldn’t shake the feeling of lying in God’s strong hand. “Look,” Trey suddenly said, pointing out the back window. Dee and I turned to see a huge hawk, perched on a branch about 15 feet away, just staring at us. After it flew away I tried drinking more water, and I’m amazed to say that it stayed down.

So, I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I do know that dream and its premonition have buoyed me through radiation this week. What do I have to lose anyway? Worst case, I’ll be let down; best case, I’ll see a miracle. Regardless of what happens, I’m thankful to have a renewed faith in the future.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Prices We Pay

Just two more years.”

“Fine, but it’ll cost you.”

“Cost me what?” I ask, dubious.

“Only your left wrist. And you might never play the violin again. That’s my final offer. Is it worth the risk?”

I look into his steely eyes. He’s far less sinister than I expected, but regardless, I never want to see him again.

“Fine!” I tell Death, and I hold out my hand so we can shake on it.

Doctors remove the melanoma from my wrist, even a little of the bone too. But despite Death’s warning, I learn to rotate my wrist a little differently, and I begin to fiddle again.

Two years pass before Death meets me again. He’s always standing by a boat, always wearing a cloak that sways in a wind that I can’t feel. 

“Two more years,” I say.

“It’ll cost you.”

“Good Lord! What do you want this time?”

“Just part of your spine. You’ll never walk the same again. People will pity you—think you’re a cripple.”

“Pity?” I don’t want to see people’s pity. BUT what I want to my children grow up. “Will it hurt much?”

“Course it’ll hurt!”

“Fine.” We shake hands.

I undergo a surgery to have an entire vertebra removed.

And every several years the meetings continue until I’m a shade of myself, and I’ve lost everything except a desire to die.

I wake up then, sweating, feeling like someone stands beside my bed. Then I rub my eyes and realize it was just the dream again—the one where I bargain with Death. And I wonder what prices we’re all truly willing to pay to keep on living.... At the cancer hospital I see clearly what prices people have paid—and they see my price too.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Moments That Matter

 Indy was out with Grandma Dee—showing off her mad scooter skills—when tragedy struck. She shot down a big hill and turned on the newly cleaned street. Seconds later, Indy ran inside, bawling, and I knew she’d broken her wrist by the coloring and how it bent unnaturally.

So I rushed her to the hospital and what happened there is quite unforgettable.

“Mama, can you hold me?”

Indy is 11, and she hasn’t asked me this for a couple of years. But I got onto the hospital bed with her and held her in my arms. She’s so precious—all of my kids are—but this was just one of those moments I’ll never forget. 

We were at the hospital for over eight hours and during that time we were able to watch a romance on my phone, tell stories, play one-handed Cats in the Cradle, and anything else we could think of.

We’d been there for a while when the hand specialist finally came in. By this point, Indy was hurting pretty badly and little tears had started to fill her eyes.

“Can you tell me what happened?” The doctor asked, looking from Indy to me.

“Well, you see...we were swimming,” I said and Indy’s eyes began widening with bemusement. The doctor pulled out a notebook and started writing things down. “When out of no where this huge shark barreled toward us! I thought we were goners! But not with Indy around.” I gazed at her and grinned. “She socked that shark right in the nose. Tore its head clean off!”

At this point Indy started laughing sooooo hard! The doctor removed his glasses, then started laughing too. “I can’t believe I started writing that down!” He shook his head. “Now Indy, can you tell me the REAL story?”

“Yes,” she giggled, “I went down a hill I’ve never tried before, and I fell. Then my brother said to get up and that I was fine. But I really think I broke my wrist.”

He showed us the X-rays and explained that Indy would need to be put under so her could pop it back in and place a splint. So, Indy bravely went into the room with the sedation team, and they let me watch through the window. I cried, tears seeping into my mask. But I’d told them I was brave enough to watch, so I wiped my tears quickly and regained my composure. Within minutes, everything was done and the ketamine began wearing off.

“Mama!” Indy cried. “Where are you? Mama?”

I shot into the room before they even told me I could, and I held her left hand. “You’re okay, baby.”

“It’s all blurry. You have so many eyes. Everything’s all wrong!” she sobbed.

The nurses nodded, deciding that I could stay while the medicine wore off.

I pressed my forehead to hers. “Just close yours eyes.” Then I started singing to her. It reminded me so much of when she was a baby, as she slowly calmed down and placed her arms around my neck. I tried not to get emotional again, but I just loved being close to my little girl. I sang to her for a long time and when I backed away, her eyes could focus, and it seemed that the sedation had fully lost its hold.

“I love you, Mama. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you!”

And it hit me for the millionth time how these moments are what matter in life. It’s not the stupid things we use to stack ourselves against. We might try to measure ourselves with accomplishments, but the greatest accomplishment is when those closest to us know how much we love them.

Mike came to the ER after that, so worried about both of us. After hugging Indy, he turned to me. “How are you feeling? Are you okay?”

I nodded, stunned. For all that time I’d forgotten about the cancer, the pain, and all of it. I’d just been enjoying time with the precious little girl who can bring light into almost any situation.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Something Bad and Something Good

This has been a rough week. Someone reported my GoFundMe as fraudulent, and it was taken down. So we had to furnish proof of not only my medical conditions but of our bills as well. (They’re reviewing our documents now.) As if that wasn’t enough, I heard someone has been spreading terrible rumors about me. I didn’t want to believe it weeks ago. After all, that’s like attacking someone who’s already hurting, crawling along the ground, literally fighting for their life. But I got the confirmation in writing last week, and I’ll be honest, the revelation stung. 

Before radiation, as the techs prepared me to go into the machine, I told them about all of this. “Don’t worry,” they said. “Unfortunately, we hear stuff like this all of the time.”

“What?!” I didn’t mean to, but I broke out laughing. “There are so many good people in this world—but what is wrong with the other people?”

“Right?” one man said.

As I got into the machine, I fought the waves of nausea that rolled over me. That’s when my mind turned to other things that had happened recently. The other day I became so nauseous that I pulled my car into a parking lot. One of the dearest people, Dee, sat next to me in the car. “I’m so embarrassed, but I think I need to throw up,” I said. “I’m gonna park over here!” It was the least populated area and only had a couple of cars nearby. So I got out and puked in one of the bushes. I’m sure I looked like Gollum or a zombie from “The Walking  Dead” as I hunkered down, convulsing. 

I’d finally finished yakking when I turned and saw that there WAS actually a woman in the car to my left—who immediately rolled up her window and locked her doors. Cancer—it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Anyway, my memory of this faded as the techs rolled me out of the machine. “Also, my car started smoked on the way to the hospital. If I play my cards just right, I think I can barely get it to roll to a mechanic shop. Do you know of a good place?”

They didn’t, so Mike called and found one where he said the man sounded trustworthy: Brigham Street Service in downtown Salt Lake. 

I was nervous. We’re running low on funds, I just learned that some people suck, AND now I had to deal with someone worse than a lawyer or a dentist—a mechanic! 

The guy took the car, and I was a bit shocked when his sister (the accountant) offered to give me and Dee a free ride to our hotel.

After a few hours of waiting, I finally had a moment to look at the funds being held by GoFundMe. I literally brawled as I discovered who had given funds. Having just wiped my eyes, that’s when my phone rang. “Ma’am,” the man from Brigham Street Service said.

“Hello!” I smiled. “Is the car done already?”

“Yes, and after hearing what you’ve been through, I took care of the bill. Can I pick you up in your car and you can drop me off at the shop?”

I was totally stunned. I mean—who does that? Didn’t he know what mechanics are supposed to be like? I hung up the phone and found it hard to move. Maybe I’ve seen some terrible things, but I’ve also seen so many amazing things that have far outnumbered the bad. I’m amazed by people’s kindness and generosity. Someone out there may be trying to “take me down a notch” as they said, but there are far more good people who are making our world a better place. 

Thank God for kindness. I hope even the people who have been “difficult” to me will find the power of kindness one of these days too.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Boomerang Feather

Several months ago I received something quite unique in the mail: an envelope with a single eagle feather in it! I later discovered that Mato-Uste had sent it to me after performing a smoke ceremony “to contact the Grandfathers around the campfire.” It took a moment for me to understand, but he kindly explained that the feather was waved over smoke to help it soar to the heavens so the Grandfathers can bless and embrace me.

“You can keep the feather or release into the wind with a prayer. It will find the Grandfathers.” Mato-Uste gained his wisdom about this from Mae Taylor—a very respected Nez Perce holy woman. I love this man dearly and felt so happy to see his excitement about the feather. “The Grandfathers, Wolf Brothers, and Eagles will guard your passage. Be safe and happy.” 

My family members each expressed their curiosity about the feather. In fact, a couple of them told me to keep it. “I don’t know why,” I replied, “but I want to let it go someplace special. It’ll be a sign that God is listening to my prayer.”

So, my brother thought of the perfect place because Windy Point features three cliffs that people can easily walk to. We drove there, and I struggled a bit as the car jolted along the bumpy road. But that was the least of my worries; I didn’t know if I could even walk the short distance to the cliffs. 

After we arrived the sun shone brightly, showcasing the beginnings of spring, and the area lived up to its name. “Hold my hand,” Mike said, his hair blowing several directions as the winds shifted sporadically. “Are you sure you can do this?”

“I have to,” I said. “It just seems so important.”

So my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and Mike helped me slowly traverse the rocky landscape. We finally chose the cliff on the far right where everyone could stand around me in a circle. Then my sister-in-law gave the most wonderful prayer. Everyone backed away except for Mike—who held onto my waist. After enduring all of these cancer treatments, the last thing I needed was to stumble off a cliff.

The wind blew hard, and I let go of that blessed feather. But after traveling away momentarily, it flew back—right to my brother! We tried again—and it boomeranged to my dad! We moved to another cliff that faced another direction and seemed more majestic than the last. This must be where the feather wanted to be let go. But defeating all odds, it came back again. 

Completely dumbfounded—and maybe even frustrated—my brother and Mike climbed to a cliff that I couldn’t reach. My brother let it go with so much ceremony in his face—and it came back. My mom even tried, but it didn’t seem to matter who let it go, the feather always returned.

“It doesn’t want to leave you,” my dad said. “You should keep it.”

Worn out, I had to sit on a rock before edging back to the car. And as I sat there, something circled above me. “Oh my!” my mom said. “Elisa! There’s an eagle above us!” And it was, glorious and perfect, glinting as it dipped and arced several times before floating away like I’d hoped my feather could have.

When the car disembarked from the canyon, I contacted Mato-Uste. “What does it mean?” The eagle had seemed quite amazing, but maybe it meant something else. Maybe God had rejected my prayer.

Defying my worst fears, the man’s response surprised me. “It’s meant to be! The Grandfathers want to watch over you. I thought this might happen. You are blessed!”

A few days later I saw my oncologist, and she explained that several specialists had spoken about my case at the tumor board. “We’re going to try a new immunotherapy. If it works, it could significantly extend your life.”

A bit of hope glimmered for me. I’m trying so hard not to be overly optimistic because I don’t want to have my heart broken like when my son died. But still, maybe the feather staying really was a good sign. And maybe these collaborative specialists could change the course of my life! Yes, this is an incurable kind of cancer, but maybe the future is brighter—and longer for me—than doctors originally projected. We’ll just have to wait and see, but until then, my feather is with me, reminding me of how powerful it is to keep hope alive. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Faces of Fear

I’d recently turned 8 years old, and despite my mom’s best efforts to keep me safe, that day didn’t go as planned. 

I always found strange refuges where I would hide, read, and imagine. My Greek neighbors—in their 80s—would visit with me and feed me tons of braided cookies.

They didn’t know it, but when we weren’t visiting, I loved to hide in the bushes to the side of their house. The plants grew so thickly together that I had to crawl just to get in between them. I’d push through branches and spiderwebs, then lean against the brick house and read. The sun shot perfectly through the branches and most of the time my little black cat would join me. It became my own entrance to a magical world where I could escape and imagine.

That day I didn’t read though—and my cat didn’t join me. So, I thought about my friend, Candice. Days before, our moms had brought us to pick asparagus, but Candice seemed all wrong. “I fell on the ground,” she said. “It was a really hard fall. They had to rush me to the hospital. And I got cancer.”

Cancer was previously unknown to me, and it sounded terrible. In fact, I never wanted to get cancer, and I never wanted to fall on the ground because that’s obviously how people contracted the disease. Candice seemed so tired when she talked about it...and sad. She said she might die someday—that we’d all die. I knew that! But I didn’t want to think about it.

I shook my head and decided my “magical place” didn’t seem so magical at the moment. I didn’t want to stay there, thinking about how my friend might close her eyes and never open them again.

So, I crawled from the bushes, got on my scooter and started zooming up and down the sidewalk. I’d sit and straighten my hands up so I could hold the handlebars tightly. I’d gone down a hill and was picking up speed when my old, Greek neighbor got into his car. It all went so fast. I tried to move, but the puke-green car sped—too quickly—and the bumper slammed against my forehead.

I sprawled, my scooter screeching across the pavement. I hit the ground so hard, but I felt too shocked—even beyond tears. Then my neighbor was standing over me, screaming. “Oh, my God.” His hands pulsed, up in the air. “I almost ran you over. I almost—“

I couldn’t hear him after that.... I’d fallen now, fallen hard just like my friend.

I heard my mom later. She spoke with the man. He claimed that he could have killed me. He said he couldn’t sleep anymore—could hardly live with himself. “I couldn’t see her.”

I really thought about death then. It was so strange to think about something I couldn’t begin to understand.

My poor neighbor was strained after that. He and his wife gave me more cookies than normal, but he wouldn’t meet my eyes for long. 

So, I walked out of their back door one day, crawled in between the bushes, and wished he’d never hit me with his stupid car. 

I never saw Candice again, and I also stopped going to visit my neighbor. It was just too hard, seeing all of that fear in the old man’s eyes.

Now, since I’ve gotten cancer, I see that same fear in people’s eyes. But nothing is more terrifying than seeing that look...reflected in the faces of my children.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Layton Funk, Meeting an Inspiration

Sometimes we meet people who profoundly influence our lives—and they might not even know it. That’s how I felt when I met Layton Funk.

After cancer interrupted my life, I browsed Facebook and simply found Layton’s profile; he seemed inspiring...and so interesting. We started talking and eventually decided to meet up sometime. But meeting someone in person is always so much different than talking online, and I was really nervous.

When I entered the building, I mentioned who I’d come to visit, and everyone around raved about Layton. 

It took quite a bit to see him though—COVID-19 has put so many obstacles in everyone’s lives. Both wearing a mask, Mike and I had to wash our hands for the appropriate time (as someone watched us), then we donned plastic gowns, took a COVID nasal swab test, washed our hands again, sanitized, then waited behind a glass screen.

“I’m so excited,” I told Mike. “He seems so awesome online.”

Then Layton simply rolled into the room, and I immediately smiled. He joked with us right off the bat, being far more witty than I expected, and the hour-long conversation that followed has moments I’ll never forget—he even let me play my violin for him. 

Layton is quadriplegic. He was in a car accident in Idaho over a decade ago, and now he lives in Utah, where he’s made his entire staff fall in love with him! 

We talked about everything from his identical twin, our love of superheroes, board games, and his advice about how I can handle terminal cancer. 

We were told to stay behind the glass, but at one point Layton talked about his room. So, we repositioned the “straw” that he uses to move his chair with, and then he broke us out of jail and led us on a secret mission to his fortress of solitude.

“Just act like you own the place,” he told us, grinning. And we strutted past the desk, like nothing was amiss! The staff didn’t even look up—and we actually reached his room! I could hardly believe it. But I guess that’s just what happens when someone like Layton leads you on an adventure.

He has an ENTIRE walk-in closet filled with the greatest superhero collection known to man. “Holy crap!” I whispered. “This is...AWESOME.” It was like walking into Narnia, but different because I saw a bunch of Supermans instead of Mr. Tumnus.

We sauntered back to the meeting area—with the glass barrier—and this time someone from the center followed us, probably a villain on our scent.

At the end, I asked Layton how he does it. He had a completely normal life until the accident. I just can’t imagine what he’s gone through over the years. This handsome man, who’s still young and has endured unfathomable trials...

“I’ve been able to help so many people through this. It’s my purpose.” 

Tears brimmed my eyes because I’ve never met someone that positive and strong! He went on to explain how life can bring the strangest miracles—even if they don’t seem “good” at the time. His eyes sparkled when he spoke and for me the world changed. I still can’t imagine that kind of strength—but I’m proud to know someone who does.

“I’ll come back! We’ll play board games.” I promised, BUT that doesn’t mean I’ll let him win! 

Even after Mike and I left, I couldn’t shake the experience. Layton completely inspired me. His positivity and kindness are humbling. I can hardly wait to get back there so I can beat him at Monopoly!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Looking Through the Glass

In 2019 I visited an elementary school to cover a special news story—I never expected the moment to change my view on life.... 

Everyone had already gone to an assembly, so no one could let me into the building. I remember that day had been quite snowy and as such the school’s windows were a bit dirty from the morning’s storm. 

I knocked, but no one heard me. I tried all of the doors; they remained locked. Then people started flooding the hallways. I knocked again, waved, even yelled out, but NO ONE saw me.

Some of the teachers and kids appeared to look at me, but they couldn’t see me at all through the window. After a while, I just ended up standing, shivering in the cold. 

As I watched people laughing and smiling, I started to feel a little bit reflective, thinking of the irony. The fact is that sometimes I’ve felt like this in life, as if I’m knocking on a window where no one understands me or my true worth. Maybe I’d be capable of so much if just given the chance to “come in.” Gifts and potential, waiting dormant, hoping anyone will answer the door. As I stood there, I wondered, “Is this what it feels like to be dead? Just watching people who can’t see.” Is that what I was feeling for years….

Suddenly a little boy and his teacher—from way down the hallway, behind nearly everyone—somehow spotted me. He waved and tugged on her sleeve. They both smiled wide and bolted down the hall to the door.

“You must be freezing! We’ve been waiting for you. They’ll be so excited to talk with you and to be in the newspaper.”

“How did you see me?” I asked. “No one else could.”

“We’ve been waiting for you!” the little boy replied. “You’re with the paper. It’s a big deal!”

I walked in and some snow fell from my hood. The teacher patted me in the back and, as the little boy went toward the auditorium, she said, “You’re making such an impact in this area. We appreciate you and your positivity.”

I bit my lip and tried not to get teary-eyed because her words meant so much. As I walked into the auditorium, everything seemed brighter, better, such a contrast to the cold, dreary world I’d been freezing in moments before. 

The kids squealed the moment I entered the room because they’d met me before, and I represented something they thought was awesome—a chance for their faces and stories to appear in a paper that had stayed in business for over 100 years.

As I took picture after picture and answered questions for kids who love to write, I realized I should never feel like I’m locked outside, looking in on everyone else and wishing I had a purpose. After all, everyone has a purpose, even me. For a time, that was running a tiny newspaper and writing stories for the people of Bingham County. Now, it’s finding the best in life even as I fight to survive cancer.

Honestly, although I cry and struggle some days, I’ve found so much good even in these current circumstances. It’s wonderful to still be on the inside.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dying to Live

 “Can you lie on the exam table for me?”

But it’s not a typical exam table. It has a huge body pillow on it, and the “table” is built to slide in and out of the CT machine.

The techs and nurses start forming the pillow around me, and as they push, the tiny beads inside begin to harden and bond together. 

I start shooting the bull with the team during that, telling them how I wrote an erotic novel that was finally published traditionally. For some reason they think that’s funnier than hell because I “look so innocent.”

“Those are the ones to look out for.” I practically giggle the words. And I realize all of our laughter makes this whole thing a little less terrifying.

“We have to remove your gown now,” they say, and I’m a bit mortified because Mike packed my underwear for this trip to Utah. And when men pack underwear, you end up with fashion—not comfort.

“Oh, my,” a nurse says, blushing. Were they uncomfortable about what my husband had packed? Well—join the club. 

The team pulled a plastic bag around the legless table, over my feet, and then brought it to my ribs. “This is a suction technique we use to immobilize patients during radiation.”

“I promise not to move.” Was the vaccum seal necessary? I mean, I’m not a spastic toddler.

“It’s nothing personal. But this is gonna get tight. Ready?”

I nod before she flips a switch and I become like a human sandwich in a Food Saver bag.

The lights dim, and the table starts moving me in and out of the machine for about a million years (actually 45 minutes). And I get so scared that I tell myself this is a spa treatment, and I’m gonna be soooo toned afterward.... Want cancer AND abs, try this thing out!

But soon it’s too damn tight, my arms are practically glued to my sides, and I’m struggling to breathe normally from all the anxiety.

I slam my eyes shut, trying to remember something good because being vacuumed—in a CT machine—well, it wasn’t on my bucket list.

And then I remembered something that fully took me back in time:

The closest I've even come to touching heaven in when I fell from it. I didn’t dive or jump...I simply leaned out of the plane, right before the wind took me. And when I hurtled toward the Earth, a feeling of freedom completely replaced all of the fear I'd felt moments before.

The wind rushed past, and my stomach hurtled into my throat, but only then could I truly “see” the beauty of the world. I looked everywhere, completely amazed by God's creation. The waters glistened, and the mountains seemed far more monstrous and  impressive than ever before. And when I should have been more terrified than any other moment in my life, well, time just stopped.

After seconds had turned to hours, my tandem instructor pulled the parachute’s ripcord. And I remained amazed, thinking about God and this great gift I've been given. It’s astounding that God created such brilliance and beauty. And yet among all of that He'd somehow seen fit to create me. 

So that’s what I thought of in the CT machine: how being scared of death can truly bring us to life.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Real Magic

 I'm lying on my back, practically glowing with happiness. My chubby toes twiddle in front of me, and I'm purely delighted that I can tell my body to move, and then it magically obeys. 

So much joy. There's a fish tank behind me with creatures that move and dance in a strange world all their own. I love the Betta fish best because they seem to wear flowing dresses that fit just perfectly!

There's a bay window in front of me. And the sunlight shining through catches all sorts of dust particles. I let my feet playfully fall to the carpet, and that's when I take my hands out of my mouth and start trying to grab the tiny flecks that are illuminated all around. It's magic--my first memory. I'm so filled with wonder and joy, enough that it lasted a lifetime.

I loved everything to the fullest: those around me, the beauty of simplicity, even the warmth of the sun. It's strange to think that the sun is eventually what made me so sick. What inspired my first memory might also be the cause of my last. It's not a shock really; after all, it's far more common for people with reddish hair to get melanoma. And looking back it doesn't matter so much...not anymore. It's too late.

The sun made an impact so strong that it's what I remember very first--that and a pure joy of just being alive. I've heard that first memories can give us a glimpse into our purpose. Well, I'd say mine is joy, experiencing it and then trying to share it with others. It's that simple. 

So, that’s my first memory, and, looking back, it’s the first time I experienced real magic.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Sunday of My Life

 I haven’t had a fairytale life, but as I look back, there are numerous moments that shine out with pure magic. I might share those someday, write them down so my family can know a little bit more about me and remember the good times. Maybe...

The relationship with my second oldest daughter is strained after she ran away. She’s still living in another state, and I just worry she doesn’t know how infinitely I love her, especially since I really know her—I mean, I raised the kid! Ironically, she doesn’t seem to know much about me as a person. The latter point might sound silly, but, it’s important to me. The doctors say time could be running out. If my words are all she has to really remember me by during this time, well, at least she’ll have those—if she ever wants them.

I need to be forgiving even though it’s much easier to feel hurt. Being a teenager is hard. At that age we often think we know everything, and it’s awfully tough to look beyond ourselves. After all, I remember running away at 17 so I could be a homeless street musician in Hawaii. When I wasn’t cold and hungry I had an absolutely amazing time fiddling...but I didn’t think of what it had done to my family back home.

All of this reminiscing and regretting again because I talked with a different doctor last week, and the conversation still has me reeling. Specialists had hoped for all the cancer to be eradicated in some areas, but it’s not. To top that off, the tumor in my tailbone is still growing. My regular doctor hadn’t fully relayed the import of this news, and when this different man spoke with me and Mike last week, although I appreciated his honesty, his words made it hard for me to breathe.

He also talked about the melanoma in my brain and how all sorts of things could happen out of nowhere. The “coulds” went on and on—and on. But at the end of the conversation, he urged me to write a will.

“I met you in the hospital,” he said.

I felt embarrassed, but I couldn’t remember him. Parts of my one-month stay in the hospital are still a blur.

“I remember how much everyone liked you there. You’re just so happy and innocent-seeming...about everything. They still talk about you—and how you played the violin for the other patients.... How happy you were even after surgery. And even now your doctors have spoken highly of you.”

“Thank you,” I said, but I wondered where the conversation headed.


There it was.

“I don’t know if they’ve talked candidly with you,” he said. “It’s hard when you like someone so much—and they seem so happy. You don’t want them to hear the worst and lose hope. You don’t want to be the person to ‘break the spell.’ But I feel like you need to hear it. Right now you’re active again.... The point is that you need to be prepared.... Unless something very unexpected happens, you know what you’ll die of. You just. Don’t. Know. When.”

I held the tears back for the whole appointment, but later I sunk into a deep depression that lasted for days. I know I need to think about death and how I’d like to live if I do need life-support or something else. But it’s still hard to fully comprehend that “I’m” the one in this situation. Not some stranger, distant family friend, or older acquaintance. Me. And I have to make difficult choices right now.

So, I ended up calling a friend. He’s a tall cowboy who you’d  never expect to be a lawyer. In fact, he and his family (mainly his epic wife) taught me how to inoculate cows! Anyway, I made an appointment with him. I said, “If I have to do this, I might as well have a legend draft my will.” Nothing can be normal when I’m involved.

This took a lot out of me, but we’ll just add it to my list. I’ve done some crazy things throughout this experience. I sent a letter to monks in Brazil, ordered these strange mushrooms (for cooking) that are supposed to cure cancer, saw a psychic, started attending church again, talked to all sorts of specialists about what they offer across the world, and received a feather blessed by the ancient ancestors.

Something’s gotta work, right? But if it doesn’t, it’ll still be nice to have a will that was drafted by a legend—and this blessed feather that gives me hope.

When you find out you might die everything just sort of stops. You stop taking Italian lessons, stop buying dresses (that you might only wear one season), stop planning for retirement, you just STOP....

One of the dearest people in the whole world is Dee Ready. She once said, “I want to see you in your 40s. Those were such wonderful years for me.” She explained that she really embraced herself....

“This is terrible,” Mike said. “You’ve been through so many hard things in your adult life. And now this.”

I laughed. “And I just keep thinking how lucky I am not to be a pioneer. I could be alone on the trail after my family died of some strange disease. Then I could get killed by a traveling stranger or raped—right after watching my whole family die. Nope, I don’t have it bad. And every time I think I do, I just remember how grateful I am not to be a pioneer.”

And it suddenly hit me how I need to start planning again. Sometimes when the work week is over and we’ve reached Sunday, I so dread not seeing the family on Monday, that I ruin Sunday. If this is truly the “Sunday” of my life, I don’t want to ruin it. I want to really live.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Feeling Like an Inconvenience

decided to bring the kids to church and then take them to get their hair cut. To a regular person this might sound like a simple day, but to me it’s a huge endeavor. Driving the car means I can’t take my pain medicine. And doing more than one activity a day is just so utterly exhausting—since I got cancer.

Anyway, when we left church, my back had stiffed from sitting in the pew. And there’s this strange feeling that creeps in from where the tumors are. It reminds me of when someone has a festering wound, something they just want to slather with Neosporin—that’s how the tumors feel inside of my body sometimes. But nothing has been taking that feeling away...nothing yet anyway.

So, I limped into the hair salon and passed a family that left as we entered. Two hairdressers (who didn’t have clients at the moment) laughed and joked; another helped a patron toward the back of the shop. I realized none of them had seen me and my two youngest kids until one of them turned and sighed.

“Did you check in online?” the woman asked, giving me a once-over.

“I didn’t.”

She shook her head. “Well, you should have. You might have to wait for a while.” And the way she said it, I felt like a huge inconvenience.

I stood against the wall. They’d taken away the chairs because of COVID, and after a while of watching the two available hairdressers BS, my leg started shaking from the pressure. I should have left then, but my kids have needed their hair cut for a couple of weeks.

“I can do this,” I thought. “I can stay!”

Then, my thoughts wandered, and I thought again about being an inconvenience. I wondered what the main beautician had gone through to act the way she had when we’d come in. Maybe she’d had an incredibly busy day, and she just needed a break. But still, I’d finally gotten out of the house, I have cancer for crying out loud, and I did not need her attitude.

My thoughts turned to other things: I guess being a burden is something I’ve worried about my whole life. I want to make people’s lives better, not worse. And now that I have cancer, so many people are worried. So many people have had to help take care of me, doing things I simply can’t anymore. 

After about five minutes one of the women left with orders of what her coworkers wanted to eat. I thought the other woman might start bringing the kids back, but instead she began sweeping the floor—in slow motion.... After another 10 minutes, I finally couldn’t take it anymore 

“How can I help you?” she said in monotone after I’d limped to the counter. 

What was her deal? What had I done to anger this stranger?!

My back suddenly turned to fire. It wasn’t good that I’d stayed standing so long without my walker. “Please! Take me off of your ‘waiting list’!” I hadn’t meant for the words to come out that way, but my filter left a few months ago.

“Well—you don’t have to get angry.”

I blinked. She had no idea how much effort it had taken to come to their store. No idea about the cancer. No idea how happy I’d been to finally be doing something on my own. 

At that moment a man walked in and the beautician turned. “Did you check in online?”

“I did,” he said.

“Right this way,” she responded. 

My son’s mouth fell open. “That was ridiculous.”

Both of my kids headed to the door. And as I limped out of the beauty salon with my children, I could have cried.