Presence over presents- Kara Tippets

I sit listening to Christmas music, with a red starbucks cup sipping on coffee. The store is adorned with all things Christmas decor. Tis the season it is. I love Christmas. I love this time of year. I love the way Thanksgiving is the segway to all things holiday….. celebrations, gatherings, laughter and joy.

Oh how my heart longs that this season looked different for me.

I am drinking coffee slowly today because tomorrow I can’t have any. Tomorrow I start Day 1 of fertility treatments. Two shots to my stomach in the morning. Two shots in the evening. I will continue with this regime, for the next ten days. The intention of the drugs is to stimulate my ovaries so I have eggs available for extraction. (egg freezing) This is estimated to take place on December 16. I have never given myself a shot before. (let alone two, or four for that matter in one day).

As I begin to reflect on this Christmas season, I am afraid. Afraid of not being present in the middle of it. My emotions change just as the street lights.  My fragile heart longs to live in the now, and just as I find myself entering the present moment at hand, I find myself overwhelmed and scared, so I wish to run out of it.

January 13, I will have my first chemotherapy treatment. My hair will soon fall away after that. Today the physical therapist said, “You will know. When you go to put your hair in a ponytail and it doesnt stay.” My eyes began to fill with water.

You see Christmas happens to fall in the middle of this waiting, in the middle of the unknown. First egg harvesting, then Christmas and New Years and after that three months of chemotherapy.

Oh the future how far away, yet so close you seem.

Monday, I am going to attempt to return to work. There are a few things I have considered in this decision. My long for normal. My hope to find a distraction and that my body overall is doing very well. I need to go back. The other side to this equation is, that I am not receiving income at this time. The reality of looming bills and bills not yet paid. I have to go back.

I am also feeling very guilty. I made a commitment to my job and this diagnosis is not their fault.  I feel as though I have let them down. I know they would quickly deny this claim and assure me that I have not but if you’re reading, then know this is how I am feeling. I was the newest employee. I was the first employee they have had take short term leave. It was unknown territory. My boss who took a chance on me, who chose to mentor me in our business, is pregnant and I want to be ready for when she leaves. I want to show up. Do my job well and pretend that cancer did not happen.

I am afraid I am going to cry a lot. The fertility medication I have been told could make me sad, depressed and tired. I want to ask the nurse, “How is that any different than how I already feel?” 

My family went home on Wednesday and I am back in my house. I spoke with my neighbor on the street who had been told of my diagnosis from my roommate. (I had not seen her yet). She gave me a big hug and shared with me how incredibly sad she was. That she was unsure what to say or do. I assured her that her hug was more than enough.

The cards I continue to receive are read. Thank you. Thank you for not forgetting me. For continuing to reach out. I knew that the messages would slow down, so all of you who continue to send your words, I am so very grateful. To those of you who are showing up for my family, thank you. Often times the caregivers need just as much love and support as the patient, so thank you for doing that so well. My sister as you may or may not know is pregnant. My parents are going to be grandparents this year. Thank you for celebrating this new life with our family. Please continue to lift them up as well. 

If you have not started reading Kara Tippets blog, I encourage you to do so. She is truly remarkable. She writes this regarding her long for joy this holiday season as her body is fading and treatments continue to fail. Her words below regarding the upcoming season have never meant so much:

I have been thinking a lot about what it is that nurtures peace in our home, fights fear, and multiplies joy. Stuff will never do any of those things. Never. But our presence in life with one another- our intention in loving, our living in love- that lasts. More than all of that- our nearness to Jesus and His grace will bring abiding peace, true peace, lasting comfort. Our living within the moment together, screens down, snuggle love, reflecting on the goodness of God, question asking- living together. That’s what I long for with my people.

Truthfully today has been a hard day. I am not doing very well. I cry a lot. I am overwhelmed. I am waiting on drugs to be overnighted, a bill that is not being approved properly by insurance, and I do not have much energy for everything. 

I dont have much else to share. I will write on how I am doing with the fertility medication once I get started. In Kara’s blog she shares this, “Presence over presents.” 

Thank you for your presence in my cancer journey.

How could this holiday season look different if we lived out “Presence over presents”?

With so much gratitude… Love Kristina

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