Find The Chapel

I’m going to the hospital alone tomorrow to see my grandmother for what I presume to be the very last time. My mom has chosen not to go to see her because the pain will be too much for her to see. This I understand, but I also know that for my personal reasoning I want and need to see my Aquilla one last time.

Its strange. Talking to my mom and knowing that she needs more support than what she is currently receiving, in terms of emotional and physical support. She doesn’t lean on my dad in such personal ways as I lean on Chris in this difficult time.

As we were talking about what will happen when the time comes for Grandma to go, we leaned on each other. I asked if I could pray before we got off the phone and she responded with her funny way of saying “sure”. I understand; spirituality and religion and age-frames and lack of praying together has made this special, wholesome “thing” almost taboo. But we prayed.

We prayed for strength and love and caring. We prayed for a quick and painless passing for my grandma Aquilla who is just taking this disease incredibly rough. But who wouldn’t, I suppose.

Life is just rough, but something I think I’ll always remember from that phone conversation I just had with my momma is: “find the chapel.” I told her I was scared to go alone to a city two hours from me because I know I’m going to be incredibly emotional when I see grandma for the last time. I know that this is all going to hit a heavy and never-walked-upon place. Its going to be rough and I think I am going to need the Chapel.

Grandma has the “C” Word

My grandma is the lady that taught me the meaning of a backbone. She was the first person, woman, and family member to learn the full story of my first relationship. My first relationship that included too many adult things for adults, nevertheless for a grandmother to hear from a fifteen year old talking about her first relationship as a thirteen year old.

My grandma listened to me talk about how I was with a guy that hit, raped, cheated, and disrespected me. She made the various facial expressions and “mmm’s” that a girlfriend would. She didn’t judge, but she did talk to me for two hours one morning. We kept re-filling our coffee cups with chocolate soy milk and a french roast that seemed to be forever flowing that morning. We had on our pajamas and I tried very hard not to cry as I let her into my darkest places.

She told me about God that summer. She told me about God in a way that I had never heard. Being a Christian since diapers I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I only knew what I felt one night, right before I came to her house to escape for two weeks one summer; that feeling was a feeling of peace, as I was lying naked on the floor of a guy’s house that I didn’t even have feelings for. I remembered the feeling of feeling worthless, but I also remember that in that very, very dark room I found the biggest light I’ve ever experienced.

Grandma talked about that Light and I was shocked anyone else knew what I had felt before. I didn’t feel religion. I didn’t feel Scripture most of the time. I felt like most everyone I knew really was “lukewarm”. Not to say I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel like my grandma was.

Grandma is my great-grandmother and this past Wednesday she was told, officially, that she has an aggressive form of cancer. The ‘C’ word. Lung cancer that isn’t allowing her to breathe, rest, or feel normal. She’s on oxygen and she’s unhappy about it. Grandma with her soft hands, and big hugs, and sassy sayings is on oxygen. She’s not herself.

She’s going to fight it. She started chemotherapy, not my personal favorite choice, but her choice. She will have this therapy five times a week. My aunt that is usually out of the country with missions is staying inbound. My Meme, which is Grandma’s daughter, lives next door with MS as her personal disease. She’s got rough stuff. Grandma’s got rough stuff. My mom and I live two hours away, with jobs, and husbands/boyfriends, school/house duties. Its going to be a hard ride, to ride chemotherapy out, but surgery isn’t an option and the cancer is squeezing around her blood vessels.

Cancer is a foreign word to me and my family. This is the first family member, that I’ve been desperately close to, that has had something like this. And I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m crying when people ask me “how are you?”

I’m terrified that my fiery Aquilla is not going to make it, not going to live as long as I think she should. I thought she would be at my graduation. I thought she would be there in an ivory colored dress, with all of the jewels my Gramps gave her, watching me get married. I thought she would be around for my first child. I’ve thought these to be selfish thoughts, but Brittany states that my future or how I saw it, is being threatened and I’m reacting to that. And I am.

I really am.

Fears of Financing

I know that some time in the past two months I’ve written a blog post about leaving a place of employment that I was once very enamored with, a little budget motel that made me feel like I was really serving customers and guests in the best way possible.

I then went back to an old job, right after quitting the motel, with an eager desire to prove that I could do it. And I found out, quickly, that I was most likely going to be there longer than just the two weeks I was hoping for. I was going to be there for at least the summer and the only reason I was going to was because of different vacationing plans that I had that I thought most new employers wouldn’t try or want to work with.

I stayed at that old job, a call center that sits in the same building as a law office, down a brick hallway that smells like ancient smoke and ancient kinetic energy. It always felt like people had come into those doors fresh and mentally ready, leaving desperate for something different, something that fed them more than just physically.

I quickly became the worker that I don’t like. I was having some health issues and I know that those issues were real, but I also knew in the moment that calling out every other day was going to make me seem like the kind of worker that I didn’t want to be: unreliable. I always felt annoyed going to work, getting off work, doing the work. The pay was good, but the work was mentally drowning.

So, I looked for ways out. I put in applications haphazardly without true desire. I looked at a couple of my favorite boutiques and thought about the longterm of most likely not being able to work at those places with my upcoming fall schedule. I thought about school. I woke up almost in terror every morning of finances and how I was going to pay my credit card bills. I thought about how I was going to pay for Bonnaroo, my birthday, and the most recent family vacation to West Virginia.

I thought and thought and stumbled over those thoughts and woke up breathless. I have vivid dreams regularly, but during the first two-three months of summer after leaving the motel and going back to the job that I didn’t really enjoy at the call center I had dreams that would leave me gasping. I had dreams of being on the street. I had dreams of dirty feet all around me and dirty tears. I had dreams of Chris leaving me because I was incompetent. I had dreams of people being disappointed and whispering “what went wrong?”. I had dreams of my old bosses laughing. I had dreams. Just dreams and nightmares every night.

But moreover, I was waking up gasping for breath as Chris was waking me with a gentle voice, telling me I had to get up. He would be just as fearful as I was when I would wake up with little to no breath, heated skin, and clammy palms. He would hold me and remind me where I was, something I’ve always needed when I was having any type of anxiety attack.

I don’t like talking about this stuff. I don’t like saying aloud that I have had issues with anxiety attacks. I don’t like saying that sometimes I still wake up like this, even though I had epiphanies that may have saved my mental life.

First off, my favorite quote that I’ve come across, at least in modern text, is “nothing will ruin your 20s more than thinking you have to have your life together already.”

I forgot this quote for a while and left that standard foundation in the dust as I huffed along every day, driving to a job I loathed to get a paycheck that wasn’t doing much for me, to paying bills that I didn’t feel like were even really getting paid. I was worried.

That’s what it was: worry.

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Matt. 6:27

I started praying, of course, only by choice events. I’m a prayer, but it was also haphazard. It was a tossing of a couple of words a day. I wouldn’t sit and think about my words. I would just say them.

Chris and I went to Tampa to get away for a couple of days and enjoy one of our monthaversaries things. We went to a Barnes and Noble because it was the only open bookstore that we could find at night. We looked at different books and I noticed a cover of a book that I saw on Instagram. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down for the next week.

“A Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown is a memoir of a girl that got lost after the death of her mother, pushing feelings and responsibilities away because she was being somewhat “taken care of” by a foster family, but she wasn’t being raised. She ran away regularly from the unkind and torturous life of a foster family that couldn’t deal with kids, just pay for them. She had a lot of missteps that were harmful to her physical and mental health, but she didn’t have any leaders to follow. After an adolescent life of misfortune, drugs, sex, and a lot of junk that she probably didn’t even want to talk about, she decided to have goals to become better. People and little things helped her decide it. She found someone to talk to who led her to Someone else to talk to. All of the things that she was saying about that comfort of talking all day every day to someone that is listening was making sense again.

I’m weary of religion, but its been pushed in my head that I can’t have a god without a religion. Its wrong and I know that, but I regularly have to push through the mental staples that have been thumped into my head. That shouldn’t be, but it is.

I began to pray again. That book came at the perfect time. My best friend I know was praying for me, best friends I should say. Zana and Brittany keep me pretty high up on the list. Zana’s best friend came to God, Celesta. Zana’s home became brighter with faith and light. Zana is a light and she was keeping me sane through most of my issues with finances. She’s struggled hard before and she was quick to remind me that debt is debt that can be paid.

Chris helped me with a financial plan. I texted my old boss at Plato’s who was ready to welcome me back, the girls at Plato’s were elated to have me back. Brittany listened to me as I complained. Zana helped remind me of promises. Everyone I knew gave me hugs. And prayer did it all.

I’m conscious of spending now. I’m conscious of being a good worker. I’m conscious of the need of prayer. I feel awake and conscious. I’m thankful for literature, for prayer, for incredible lights, for friends.