RSS

Tag Archives: leukemia

The circle of life in our back yard.

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. All around us we see signs of rebirth. But this year, I’m also painfully aware of the flip side… we can’t appreciate new life without acknowledging the inevitability and significance of death.

This circle of life is literally on display in my back yard. About four years ago, we noticed that a pair of foxes would appear in our yard from time to time. When the snow started to melt, we realized they had created a den under the trees and brush.

Daddy Fox near the entrance of the den.

A couple of months after the foxes moved in, they had babies! We had seen a lot of wildlife in our wooded neighborhood, but never anything as cute as this. Our whole family was excited to see the little “kits” grow from little balls of fluff to the size of a small dog. As the weather got warmer and the grass and brush started to grow in, the babies would come out to play.

We were delighted when the foxes returned the next year, and the next. The boys loved to watch them from the kitchen windows:

Click to see video of last year’s fox babies.

But this winter, I didn’t see the foxes like I had in the past. I worried that they had decided not to come back to us this year.

But then I finally saw the daddy fox. He appeared the morning after Julian died. Somehow, he looked both confident and carefree as he trotted through the yard. He reminded me of my strong, sweet little Julian.

During those first days of the “after,” I’d often look out the kitchen window toward the fox den. Through my fog of shock and grief, I admired this pair of faithful, committed fox parents. I felt honored that they had picked our yard as the safe place to give birth and raise their little ones, especially this year.

As the snow melted, I’d search for signs of babies. I was surprised I hadn’t seen them yet. Did they pick a different den this year? Did they not have babies this year? Something seemed off. And then on Easter morning, I saw a little mound of brown fluff moving around. A fox baby! I felt relieved. Nature had once again come full circle. And how fitting to have the first sighting on Easter.

I only saw one baby on Easter, but I assumed there must be more. In past years, we had always seen at least 3 or 4 kits. But I kept seeing only one at a time, never a group playing games and tackling each other like in the video from last year. And then just this week, it hit me: there is only one baby this year.

The fox mama that had raised her family in my yard year after year, the creature that I somehow felt kinship with, had ONE BABY. One. She most likely gave birth to at least one more, but only one made it. One. Just like me. There used to be more, but now there is one.

I wondered if this “only child” fox baby would be different, growing up without brothers and sisters to play with. But this week I saw something amazing. I was standing in my kitchen, and something caught my eye outside. A small pack of deer were eating their way through our yard (this is not an uncommon occurrence). But then I noticed something else: the fox baby was “hunting” one of the fawns. It was a showdown between baby fox and baby deer. The kit clearly had developed his instinct to hunt, but hadn’t yet quite learned how to identify appropriate prey. I took a (blurry) picture of this unbelievable and hilarious scene:

Battle of the babies: Fox vs. Deer

This little fox was focused and determined. He was brave. He was like Oscar — exploring life on his own, finding his own interests, discovering his natural instincts.

The fox family reminds us that the circle of life will always continue, even if it doesn’t quite fit our picture. The average litter is 4-6 kits, but sometimes there is only one. Sometimes, the promise of new life gets taken away too soon. We may not have the future we planned, but that doesn’t mean we are defeated. It reminds us to be stronger, braver, and more motivated to make the most of life.

The foxes returned the morning after Julian died. For the first time, there was only one baby. These were not coincidences. Instead, these were just the first of several signs that there is something bigger at work here. Call it God, the Universe, Mother Nature. No matter what you call it, it is significant. It is meaningful. It is the circle of life.

I’d love to know who visits my blog, and I’d especially like to know if you have any thoughts or comments about it. If you’d like to post a comment about this specific post, click the “Comment” link below. Or, leave a general comment on my Guestbook Page.

.



 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 20, 2011 in month 3

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The choice to survive.

Have you ever bought a new car, and from that point on, you see those cars everywhere? I’ve noticed that I’m experiencing a similar phenomenon: I’m searching for meaning and insights about life, and I’m seeing them everywhere. In books, at the movies, around my dinner table.

Last night, we had some of our best friends over for dinner. And at one point I realized, almost every single one of us had lost a parent or child to cancer, and/or have a parent currently fighting cancer. One friend is also a cancer survivor herself. Another friend shared that his mother was diagnosed just this past week, and they were waiting for more test results.

We had a great evening, filled with laughter and wonderful food (made by my husband, the chef of the family). But it was also a reminder of how pervasive cancer is, and how ruthless. As I looked around the table, I was suddenly aware of the strength of this group of people. Here we were, each of us with several good reasons to be angry and sorry for ourselves. But instead, we were strong. We were survivors. We had been victimized by cancer, but we weren’t victims.

Today, I saw the movie Bridesmaids with a bff. And again, I noticed a profound life lesson weaved into the many hilarious scenes. The main character, Annie, has a series of “setbacks” as her best friend is preparing to get married. As her friend’s wedding day approaches, Maid of (Dis)Honor Annie struggles — until one of the other bridesmaids confronts her: “I don’t associate with people who blame the world for their problems,” says Megan to Annie. “The world isn’t the problem… YOU are the problem. But you are also the solution.”

And then Megan proceeds to tackle Annie and pin her against the couch. “What are you DOING?” screams Annie to the husky woman tackling her. “I’m your LIFE, Annie. FIGHT BACK!” yells the bridesmaid in Annie’s face. Eventually, Annie finds her will to fight back and get this crazy (hilarious) woman off of her. (Or something like that… I wasn’t taking notes at the time. But I do strongly recommend the movie, so go see it and tell me if I’m remembering the scene incorrectly.)

This movie, and my friends at dinner last night, reminded me of two things. First, it feels great to laugh. And second, life isn’t fair. Life is hard. Life often challenges us and makes us want to give up. Sometimes life just plain sucks. But we can choose to find our will to survive, and FIGHT BACK with everything we have… or choose not to. But either way, it’s a choice. It’s our choice.

And sure, “our loss” provides me a great excuse for defeat. Some people appear genuinely surprised when they first see me out and functioning in my daily life. But why would I choose defeat, why use that as an excuse? Couldn’t “our loss” be just as effective as a motivation to “fight back” for a joyful life again? Why not focus the emotion and energy into becoming more aware and engaged with life?

We all have our losses. My loss is a lot more public and significant than most, but I had “losses” before Julian died, too. And I’m sure I’ll have more “losses” in the future. We all will. That’s the point of life. It’s a cliché because it’s true: You can’t have ups without some downs. But with each loss, big or small, public or private… we don’t have to surrender and become a victim of our lives. We have a choice.

We can’t control whether or not we are “victimized” (verb) by others or by life in general, but we CAN control whether or not we are “victims” (noun). We have to CHOOSE to be survivors, and take action. And as my friends and I discussed at dinner last night and after the movie today, when we are faced with the ruthlessness of cancer — or any other significant challenge that life throws at us — we have to make a choice: Survive, or not survive. Option A, or Option B.

I choose Option A. I choose to survive. I am a survivor (noun).

I’d love to know who visits my blog, and I’d especially like to know if you have any thoughts or comments about it. If you’d like to post a comment about this specific post, click the “Comment” link below. Or, leave a general comment on my Guestbook Page.

.



 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 14, 2011 in month 3

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,