For All Life’s Anniversaries ADD Salt: Blood, Sweat, Tears, or the Ocean

What happened in your life August 28, 2010?

Not all anniversaries, holidays, birthdays bring celebration or joy.

Betty Callen and her Family

Betty Callen and her Family

Five years ago today [August 28, 2010], a classmate of mine from Frederick High School who I have come to know and love through our Facebook connection–so much better than we knew each other back then, lost her daughter Elana in an automobile accident.  I don’t know the circumstances of the accident.  I suspect, however, that Betty and her husband Ned tense a bit as the date approaches.  Even as Betty writes, ‘Today is five years since we lost Elana.  We all miss her, but we know where she is and will see her again.  Love you, daughter.”

I know tears well up in her eyes today as they did in mine as I read her post.

As I pondered her post I realized that this was an anniversary for us, too.  After having been diagnosed with imageStage IV oral cancer in the summer of 2010, my husband Terry completed his first round of induction chemotherapy on this date Five years ago.  He had started the three drug, four day chemo in Vanderbilt’s Ingram Cancer Center on Tuesday that week coming home with a pump to complete the administration of the most powerful of the drugs over a 96 hour infusion.  That first round almost killed him, changing the course of his treatment with regard to the drugs and the infusion schedule.  Not that Terry had a lot of hair on his head when he started, but hair all over his body disserted him.  He survived that, the radiation with concurrent chemo that followed and on December 22 will be Five years free of cancer, God willing.

Clark and Ima Lee bottom photos Chassity, Owen, Ima Lee and Clark top photo

Clark and Ima Lee bottom photos
Chassity, Owen, Ima Lee and Clark top photo

On the same day, August 28, 2010 in Farmington, MO, our niece and her husband, Ima Lee and Clark Pierce were out to dinner.  Their daughter Chassity had joined the Air Force, but they had taken in another child who needed a home.  They both had good paying, demanding jobs but everything was rocking along pretty well.  Six months later Ima Lee was diagnosed with throat cancer.  After surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, basically the works, the last round taking her hair, they have stopped aggressive treatment and begun pallative care.

In the five years since that August,  their daughter married, gave birth to a son, Owen and that family, Chassity, Danny and Owen have moved to the United Kingdom where Danny is stationed.

This summer Ima Lee and Clark spent a month with them, even with little strength and constant pain Ima Lee made memories not for herself but for her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.

There were tears; there were times at the sea shore; there was sweat.

I don’t have answers to a lot of questions.  I don’t know why Terry’s treatment worked and Ima Lee’s has not. I don’t know why a vibrant young woman would die in a car accident, leaving her daughter without a mother.

Isak Dinesen said, “The cure for anything is salt: tears, sweat, or the sea.”  I would add “blood” to the list. The human body’s fluids closely match the salt content of the oceans.  When we deny the flow of any of them, we suffer.

When we embrace whether virtually or physically, when our tears mix with another’s on those heart breaking anniversaries or those joyful celebrations, our sorrow diminishes and our joy increases.

When we work together, sweat together to accomplish a goal, sweat unites us and forges bonds best found in completing a task as a team.  The commaradory of exhaustion is a mighty connector.

When I sit on a beach, observe the power and magnitude of the ocean, and taste the salt in the air, my spirit responds in ways that nothing else in nature quite touches.  I merely walk and wade in the shallowest part of the waves, but for me it is a life affirming pleasure.

And the Blood, not mine or yours but HIS.  Indeed it is the salt of his blood, the salt of his sweat, the salt of his tears, miniscule oceans that wash over us with salvation, purpose, and love.

What happened to you Five years ago today?



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