Last week the oncologist described my cancer as "smoldering." A quick look at the chairside dictionary defines smolder as 1) "burn with little smoke and no flame" or 2) "exist in latent or suppressed state." Either definition works with chronic cancer. It's there but not so apparent as to be symptomatic; it's hopefully dormant; and a "suppressed state" might indicate remission. I remember smoldering embers in a fireplace that might flare up with little or no provocation. I see red hot coals in the grill, smoldering and perfect for cooking. The definitions seem to be a bit more hopeful than memories of coals in the fireplace or the grill.
After each visit with the doctor there is a time for processing, both what has been said and what has not. All of us want guarantees: guarantees of cure; guarantees of long life; of happy times. You would think that by now I would have learned that doctors have no guarantees to give. Some can be rather blunt and give you the worse case scenario; others can be tight lipped, leaving you to draw your own conclusions. I've had both kinds and both provoke thoughts that smolder and flare when I should be sleeping.
Early in the week I talked with a friend and she told me of a mutual friend who is busy working on his "bucket list." He has been given just months to live and is trying to get certain things accomplished before he kicks the bucket. I suspect his list is full of things to do for others, places to go and people to see. It's time for me to take the smoldering thoughts and make my own "bucket list."
It's time for me to quit talking about identifying family "treasures" and get it done. Writing my story for my children and grandchildren needs to come sooner rather than later. Years ago when I had my first experience with cancer, a special friend told me not to worry about things. If something happened to me, she would hurry over to our house and straighten my closets. That's a real friend. While I suspect the offer still holds, my clutter has gotten worse and shouldn't be offered to my worst enemy, let alone a special friend. I must attack the closets and the boxes I've put aside to explore some time in the future. Most importantly, I need to get things in place for Tom's care.
Other smoldering thoughts concern a project the parish associate at our church asked me to consider: writing devotional booklets for Advent and Lent. So, in the last week or so, I've been reading the lectionary scriptures for Advent. They reveal the condition of Israel, their need and the hope the promise of the Messiah brought. The Israelites anticipated the first coming of Christ; we anticipate His second coming. In the meantime we celebrate the arrival of the Prince of Peace, Immanuel and have peace in our lives because God is truly with us. Because of God's Promise and His promises we have guarantees.
It's interesting how smoldering thoughts, like smoldering coals merge together.