Didn’t think of this while ringing the bell today.
I didn’t realize how very excited everyone gets when it comes to the final round and bell-ringing time.
Felt just a bit odd. For someone who occasionally occupies a stage, such moments can just seem downright awkward to me. One. Two. Three. Three rings. Applause and cheers. And pictures. Even the chemo staff took a picture!
Driving to my other chemo location to get pumped with the last toxin, it hit me.
Not a victorious ringing heralding a new day, a new life. A ringing for help. A ringing of pain, demise, diminishment. Death. I grew to hate the sound of such small bells for years following.
Glad I didn’t think of this as I rang the chemo bell. I would have cried, and right now, courtesy of chemo, it literally hurts for me to cry. My tear ducts literally hurt, whether the tears are from laughter or sorrow. Makes it very painful to have a good cry – or a bad one.
But thinking on that little tinker’s damn bell and it’s incessant tinkling made me see another whole layer of personal significance to the three much deeper tones today.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
But this is no threefold toll marking death. One. Two. Three. It tolls for you, mom. A tolling of life. Your son made it. Gong overcomes tinkling. Life overcomes death. Cancer loses one. And I really hope I don’t have to take this post back because that would just ruin all the wonderful symbolism. How rude that would be.
Thank you, mom, for persevering in your fight. If you hadn’t been in that fight I wouldn’t even known to be looking for this particular intruder all these years. Thank you for the courage you instilled in me.
Thank you, cancer – to quote another cancer survivor – for purging the BS from my life. So little time for angst over so much that truly doesn’t matter squat. And paradoxically, for giving me a deeper sensitivity and heart for little things that I wouldn’t have really noticed before.
Thank you my sweet bride for enduring the emotional whiplash of these forced chemo rhythms. And thanks for reading to me tonight from Colbert’s latest and greatest book America Again. I needed the laughs! Best way we’ve found yet to stay awake in the land of toxins and borderline nausea. Your voice brings melodious peace to my soul.
Thank you, Hannah, Frank and Rhi, for bearing with Chemoman. Actually, I think you have been more entertained by him than you’ve had to bear with him. So you really should be thanking me.
Thank you, Sharm for the meals faithfully prepared and delivered every Sunday prior to chemo week. You are truly amazing.
Thank you, Gina for the three bottles of homemade chicken soup each chemo week. True medicine for my soul!
Thank you, anonymous givers and supporters, dropping support and help our way. A fragrant offering if ever there was one.
Thank you, Angelia for reading the BFG to me on at least one of those infusion days. Thank you, Steven and Angelia both for your presence today at the sounding of the bell and for your persistent, encouraging texts, calls and prayers. And Trevor too – your presence today was a sweet blessing and surprise. You breathe life into me.
Thank you, Jennifer for so often making your way up those stairs and sharing readings and musings. Thanks for Rumi-nating with me.
Thank you, Brandon and Rachel (and sweet Juliette) for your presence too today. Sweet icing on celebration’s cake (I’m just imagining the cake, just to be clear).
Thank you, incredible staff at the Cancer Care Center. How wonderful to have nary a complaint to make. You are Godsends. Even when poking me with sharp objects (just needles, no worries).
Thank you, anyone else that this chemoed brain can’t remember through the gathering fog.
And Chad. What can I say? You have been a processing companion, stress reliever through inspired laughter, brother and friend. You threw a party in that waiting room during my surgery and lightened the mood for all – especially easing LaWayne’s burden. You offered to sit with me overnight in the hospital during the recuperation – and you meant it. Two nights you spent, giving LaWayne the chance to go home and sleep so she could still get to her job during the day. You helped me up. You saw more of me than you ever wished to (see, it’s not just women’s breasts!). You stood outside the bathroom door after they removed the catheter and told me my mechanics of nature had to wake up or they would reinsert it. You stood there at three in the morning listening to worship songs with a whole new spin on them. I still remember lying in that bed, the room illuminated by your face reflected in the darkness by your laptop. Paraclete friend.
And, with only one exception, I believe, you sat with me during each of those twelve chemo sessions. In my recent rendering of 1 John I amplified the meaning of “righteous” with the phrase “brimming with integrity, love, and justice.” This is you, my brother and friend. Thank you.
Such refreshing grace and humility in you. You didn’t even make it into the picture at the bell because you were taking your own. Think that’s just how you would want it.
And thank you, again, mom. I wrap up this post by dedicating to you the song I instantly thought of through these musings, and from which I derive the title of this post. I give you Sinatra. This was another one of my favorites growing up. I can still see you swaying to it. Appropriately, there are three “ring a ding dings” in the chorus.