He put a cup of tea in front of me before sitting down with his own. I couldn't help but remember the countless hours we had spent in chairs like this, doing nothing but talking. Usually over beer or wine back then, but coffee and then tea as I stepped into sobriety. I had sent him a quick note before the diagnosis was official letting him know that the doctors thought cancer was back, but we hadn't talked about it until yesterday. This wasn't unusual. He had moved from a daily fixture in my life to the kind of friend I can pick up with instantly after months apart.
"How dark is it?", he asked. "As dark as last time?"
"Darker," I answered. "Lately, I scare myself sometimes."
He had been there the last time depression reared its head in my world. He saw the way the clouds settled in and then turned heavy, like rocks, hovering and threatening to fall. He stood by as I finally clawed my way out of that space and into the light - a fight that ultimately saw me finding the gifts of sobriety, yoga, and a deeper relationship with Christ. But looking back now, that darkness was nothing compared to what has settled around me as of late.
I didn't really think it would come back right now. I thought I had all the coping mechanisms I needed. And if not, I had God and He would carry me through. But sometimes even all the things that have kept us in the light for so long can't keep the darkness at bay.
* * *
Today marks what is hopefully the 100 day point until this hard chemo is done. After that, if all has gone well, we transition to a year of maintenance chemo - which I am told is far more gentle and doesn't bring the same side effects. 100 days.
There are times when this number seems so small. When I tell myself that of those 100 there should only be about 20 that are feel awful. Maybe 30. But then my mind goes and I think of how long the last 100 days have been. I think of how the 100 may grow if things don't go as they should. I think of five more periods of being trapped in my house with the walls closing in, and I can't breathe. I think of the fact that I still very well may lose my hair - the last semblance of femininity I can cling to right now. I think of the friendships that have been pulled out from under me in the last several weeks, the medical bills that are piling up, the time I am missing from work, the ground I am losing on all the things I had been building and its as if I can't breathe. I find myself in the midst of a panic attack at 2am and don't find relief until the sun rises. I wonder if I have what it takes to get to the end of 100 days. I cry, I scream, I hit the wall. I can't breathe.
I remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. The only thing to do right now is to get through this day, this hour, this minute sometimes.
And minute by minute, God has provided what I need to get through.
* * *
I can finally drive again. I went to an Al-Anon meeting. I went to the coffee shop. And last night I went to the church where God always finds me.
It was my first time ever going there alone. I felt awkward and out of place. I felt like I wanted to hide but couldn't. But God told me to go, so there I sat. Me and my cloud, wadded up tissues piled next to my bible.
It hasn't been lost of me that God has been trying to get me alone for a long time now. He needs me to spend time with Him. I need it too. I know I am in this place to grow deeper with Him - not with anyone else. Despite my incredible support system of sisters (and a handful of men) God and I are walking this road alone right now.
Thats what I keep losing sight of and have to bring myself back to when the darkness sets in. I'm not walking this road alone - God is walking with me. And I know in the deepest parts of my heart - the parts where light still flickers even in the deep darkness - that He has plans to do something beautiful with all of this.
I love the music at this church and I knew that was why I had come. To talk to God in the way I only can when the music washes over me.
Skies spin their dance
Within Your breath
Time runs it's race
Within Your hand
And my mind runs wild
What no mind on earth
Your ways are higher
Your thoughts are wilder
Love came like madness
Poured out in blood - wash romance
It makes no sense but this is grace
And I know You're with me in this place
All I know is I know that You are
Still my heart
Let Your voice be all I hear now
Like the wind come have Your way
Cause I know You're in this place
I stood, hands folded beneath my chin, sobbing through the words, this song a prayer I had forgotten I needed. I've often heard it said that the closer we come to God and to doing His will, the harder the enemy will fight to destroy our faith. I've felt the enemy so strongly in the last month, as so much has been torn from me. He sits in the corner, beckoning me away from my bible, away from my devotionals, away from my prayers, away from my God.
"If God loves you, why would he take everything from you?", the enemy asks me. "Why would he let you come so far only to send you rocketing to the bottom again?"
I know my faith is being tested. I know it might seem easier to rage against God, to let doubt win. But my faith endures. I won't lie - in many ways this surprises me. I wasn't sure if my faith would hold up to cancer, never mind everything else that has come along in the last month. But if anything, my faith feels stronger now than a month ago.
For the enemy may be here, but so is God.
All I know is He is here now.
**nota bene: I have long been under the care of an excellent therapist for my depression and we are continuing to work together through this time. I know this period of depression will end.**