When I woke up Wednesday, I had a terrible migraine. Maybe it was the new mix of pain meds or maybe it was the days and days without sleep or maybe it was a good old-fashioned virus but either way, I was sick. I got dressed and headed to Houston.
We weren’t too far down the road when I asked Andrew to please pull over. It’s been years since he heard those words and as I leaned out of the car on the shoulder of the highway, all he could say was, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” Anyone with four children who suffered nine months of unrelenting morning sickness each time can relate to that question. While laughing!
After several pull-overs, we made it to the medical center. I hugged Eyob, our favorite Ethiopian parking attendant and he sent special hugs for Palmer. The doc said my skin looked good and he was thrilled with its appearance. He kindly acknowledged that I, however, may not be so thrilled. Yeah, I said, “Ouch!” I shook the doc's hand, hugged nurse Mitzi and the doc said he hoped he never had to see me again. That was funny.
Andrew and I headed downstairs for the final treatment holding hands. It felt surreal. But then again, the last six months of my life have felt surreal and I’m not quite sure what I’ll feel like when I really wake up. We waited a bit then Bette and Leslie, part of my rad movie star team, called me back. Andrew checked out the radiation room and watched me get set up for treatment. Then I had my final treatment.
They beamed me up for a few seconds and then we were done. I got dressed and headed for the famous bell. Now, nausea and I don’t go very well together so I didn’t really think that ringing the bell would make me feel better. I honestly just wanted to go home and crawl in bed and think about the whole I’m done with radiation treatment and I rang the bell thing later. That’s what throw-up does to me. It makes me become uncaring and indifferent to life’s biggies.
But, when I started ringing that bell something happened. I felt renewed. I felt excited. I felt encouraged. I felt accomplished.
It brought back memories of the last time I heard the tinkling of bells. It was almost fourteen years ago. Andrew and I had just gotten married. We left our reception to the ringing of bells. The country club didn’t allow birdseed or rice and we would be responsible for cleaning the tiles if we chose to use bubbles. We settled on bells.
Bells are special to me because my grandmother had quite an extensive bell collection. She collected bells from all over the world. She recently downsized and kept only the most special bells. Each time my children visit, she gives them each one of her special bells. They love these little bells and I hear them quite often ringing around my house.
When we got married, I loved hearing the bells ring because their sound reminded me of the rich heritage of marriage my grandparents passed on to me. Both sets of my grandparents’ marriages have been filled with many years of deep, sacrificial love. Bell-ringing to signify the end of cancer treatment is significant to me because my bell-collecting grandmother is also a cancer survivor. She has not only given me a great legacy of marriage but one of surviving as well.
I loved the feeling of being finished with this part. I loved feeling like I was celebrating a huge thing. I loved feeling like an overcomer. I loved the anticipation of a new beginning that lingered in the air. As I rang the bell, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What now?”
Won’t it be fun?
Won’t it be fun?
You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can't thank you enough. Psalm 30:11-12 The Message