Jon here: I thought I’d try another attempt at blogging. I did pretty well the first time, so here goes attempt number two. I call it surviving.
For nearly five years, I’ve watched Eli dying. It’s been gradual, with a couple of triumphs along the way, but the reality is, each year something gets taken away. In the beginning, it was her left breast and, three times, her hair. Then, cancer grew sneaky and took her athleticism. Steroids followed that up by moving in and puffing up her cheeks and gut (which she hates tremendously). Next, metastatic cancer robbed her of her energy and enthusiasm, and last it attacked her mind. It diminished her balance and mobility, while zapping away Eli’s short-term memory and language abilities.
Yet she survives, struggling day-to-day, trying to present a strong image. Every morning Eli wakes up early with me to take a pill that hopefully helps calm her stomach enough so she doesn’t feel nauseous or have diarrhea. Then she lies in bed for an hour or two trying to entertain herself with “BonzaNatGeo”, while she waits to feel better. Whether she does or not, she heads back to the pillbox to take her dreaded steroid pills. These pills keep the swelling down and boost her energy, but bloat her up like a marshmallow, worsen her dizziness, and hurt her already painful stomach. After this, she needs to rest a while before she gears up to do anything; cook dinner, take a walk, go see the doctor, or do whatever small thing us normal people do without any effort. But before she can do that, Eli practices some wizardry with her make up. That way she looks healthy, and not like a sobbing bullfrog, as she likes to put it. And, for all this, she gets to spend a couple of hours with you, posting selfies on Facebook, while attempting to look like she’s doing great and surviving.
Surviving isn’t easy. It’s downright miserable and unjust. Not only does Eli have to deal with the physical changes in her life, but the mental ones as well. Much of her life is now no longer in her control. Simple things like going for a walk require assistance and liveliness, which she no longer possesses after two hospital stays and a brain surgery. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, and performing virtually any routine task, requires all of her energy to accomplish. More often than not Eli has to rely on someone else to complete the chore. On top of this, she quit her job and has no easy way to earn money. Despite interviewing for her dream job hours after her hospital stay, she recently received a letter that let her know that, although she had the most passion for Chile and its culture, a more experienced travel writer would be writing the guidebook for Chile. Another disappoint for a woman once revered for her brilliance with the written language. With her most recent brain metastasis, Eli cannot go anywhere outside the house, because she can no longer safely operate a car. Even remembering passwords is nearly impossible if they aren’t already written down. Long gone are the days where she can be independent. Now she has to rely on others to do the things she wants to do. This dependence on others is a horrifying prospect to anyone as prideful as Eli. Yet she survives and inspires.
Through all this pain and sorrow, she still lives. The first thing she says to me every morning is “I love you.” She demands a kiss the moment I return from work. She writes blogs, sharing her life with you, hoping that you find joy, comfort, and inspiration from her words. It’s not easy for her to do these things, and she has to fight the depression from taking hold. Eli’s entire existence is currently filled with darkness: the death of her blogging friend in hospice care, a lack of interest and knowledge of education, climate change, foreign diplomacy, discrimination, and much more. Yet in this darkening world, there is a light, a light that makes this husband a happy man. My wife’s perseverance and strength shines brightly like a beacon in a storm. She shows us what is important in life, how to enjoy what’s in front of us, and how to love, even when your whole world is crumbling down. May her strength be your strength, may her love be your love, and may you survive the trials of life as she’s survived hers.
She’s a survivor! “Yes she can!”