Saturday, December 19, 2009


"Do I really have to do this?" is the question that her bright eyes and adoring expression begged me. Our little one had a tough time first thing today. Never experiencing snow before today, Mystie, our ten-week-old Havanese puppy, was quite perplexed and fearful. For her, going outdoors in the 8+ inches of snow at 5:30 in the morning seemed nearly impossible.

I opened the back door and encouraged Mystie to cross the threshold into winter, the biting wind, and the falling snow. She surveyed this new and frigid environment for a moment and at one point refused to go outdoors at all. After some coaxing on my part, she relented, did her business, and turned around and scaled the mounting peaks of snow in order to return indoors as quickly as her little legs would carry her. Her tiny paws and face covered in snow, Mystie hopped inside our home while wagging her tail furiously, even though she was cold, shivering, and obviously uncomfortable. I immediately praised her and cradled her in my arms while gently wiping the snow off her trembling body with a dry washcloth. My husband got up out of bed and began shoveling a path for her to walk along the next time she has to go outdoors.

Sometimes, we think that we just can't do something. We just don't have the strength to take yet another step or to forge ahead through the obstacles that are blocking our paths. I remember thinking those thoughts when I was in the midst of receiving chemotherapy. It was hard, very hard. And even now, years later, I still sometimes feel defeated, or I worry about what the next test will show. Viewing a little puppy who's venturing out for the first time into the elements of cold weather pales in comparison to the struggles we face on a daily basis, but the point is that we are both strong and we persevere. We have to persevere, for there really isn't any other option. Breast cancer has taught me to never give up, to never look at the gale-force winds that continually try to strip me of my fortitude ... or my faith. Cancer has shown me that the only thing to focus on is God's love for us all, and to anticipate His warm arms cradling us, as He wipes away our tears, melting our fears. Once again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Roommate

Annette called me the other day, saying she'd be traveling through my town on a business trip, and wondering if she could stop in for a short visit. "Sure!" I replied upon hearing her request. Annette was my first roommate after I graduated from college in 1984. We roomed together for a little more than a year, after which time she found a better job and relocated.

Years passed, and we both married, had children and moved around a lot. We'd kept in touch over the years, but only through Christmas cards. She would send to me the latest photo of her three children, characteristically tucked inside the cards, and I'd typically send pictures of my kids to her. But we hadn't actually seen one another since we were roommates; literally decades had unfolded between us. Until three days ago.

Annette rang my front doorbell, and when she entered my home, it was as if time just stopped. It froze. We hugged, laughed and she handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. We chatted a lot, while walking into my living room, and I showed off my kids' pictures to her. Smiling, she pulled out her wallet and produced the latest photo of her family.

We decided to go to a nearby restaurant for lunch, where we talked so much, trying to catch up, that the poor waitress had to keep checking in numerous times to see if we were ready to order our food. Stories of our times together when we were so young, so carefree, so innocent, came to life once again, as if those happy times had happened just recently. I don't think either one of us stopped looking at each other, or stopped smiling, the whole time we were together. Without our being aware of it, the clock hands raced around. Warm coffee refills came, and our conversation continued, neither one of us pausing for even a second to look at those around us.

It became time for her to leave, unfortunately, so we hugged again in the parking lot, as the cold chill of winter reminded us that we were indeed living in the year 2009. She had to get back to her business, her family, her life, and her world. I needed to do the same...

I turned to watch her drive away; we both waved. A tear fell, but at the same time, I smiled. Annette was more than just a roommate to me. She actually played a huge part in directing the path of my future. You see, I met Annette through a young man that I was dating at the time. He knew her, and he also knew that she needed a roommate. So, out of convenience, really, I shared an apartment with her. We became very close, and as God would have it, a twist in the story line occurred, when one day Annette introduced me to another young man. Two years later, her little "introduction" became my husband!

It's funny how things work out, isn't it?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Christmas Gift

She's adorable! At just a tad over eight weeks old, Mystie, our little Havanese puppy, brings much more joy to our family than I'd expected. We picked her up last Thursday and after being in a her new environment in our home for only three short days, she's already demonstrated that she can sleep through the night! She eats well and even whimpers to go outdoors! We keep her in a fenced in area in our kitchen, so she always sees me and feels secure, yet she does not have the freedom to roam about the house and potentially get into trouble.

You know, I actually look forward to returning home after being away for a couple of hours, just to see her again and rub her cute pink, plump belly. Her tail never stops wagging. In fact, when I initially saw her, she immediately greeted me with a gentle lick and a wagging tail. I knew then that she'd be a faithful little "gift" to us, one that I am sure will only grow more endearing with the passing of each Christmas.