22 June 1999

And if the earthly fades and has forgot
you, whisper to the silent Earth, "I flow."
To the rushing waters say, "I am."

Rilke, transcribed and sent us by a friend

"While you were dancing at the 50th party, we were dancing our annual Eagle Dance...I dance to the Tree of Life for you and the girls...We did a round of dedications where each dancer names someone in need of healing or help and the entire circle dances for that person. At that point we all danced for you. I continue in my heart."
Email from a friend

"Oh, there are angels. So many angels everywhere. Their house is set in a wide space, filled with angels."
To Jeanie's Mom, from a charismatic friend in worship

June 22, 1999

Some of you will have heard this news in an earlier e-mail. An MRI has revealed tumor on the scale of the first, this time on the left side of Jeanie's brain. It has grown rapidly -- since the previous scan nine-weeks before in April. Though in another "quiet area," of the frontal lobe, Jeanie is experiencing its effects in short-term memory and sequencing (she can get stuck or distracted in the middle of a process as basic as dressing). Happily, it must not come anywhere near the "humor center," as hers is fully in tact. Nor could she be more sweet-spirited, giving and receiving love without limit.

We have decided to do another surgery. It is currently scheduled for June 30 at Henry Ford Hospital. Though it is an admittedly aggressive approach, all the diverse physicians with whom we are in touch, urge it. As previous, the tumor is accessible without going through healthy tissue and they anticipate getting ninety percent. It should, for a time, forestall further change, and there is a small chance that any deficits caused by swelling pressure, may be alleviated. They will also leave behind a chemo wafer which will dissolve over time giving the tumorsite direct therapy without any of the ordinary side effects of chemotherapy. We will need to make further therapy decisions as we go. For a variety of reasons, it's not clear whether Nashville is a useful option any longer.

I walk around with a rock in my stomach, though it's size and weight seems to change with moment and circumstance. Generally, it's about the size of a softball. I confess it was dragging me under, spiralling quickly down into dread and despair. Lucy warned me that I was filling up the house with "worriness." Since then, I've asked the girls to help me fill the house with light. (That is part of my request to you as well). We are trying to sing every day together. Perhaps the messengers of light seen above are reply.

Lydia, from question upon question put to me over a lovely Father's Day breakfast of her own making, knows all -- at least all of what the doctors can see and say. Our conversation that morning turned theological -- theodicy, as it were, meaning and hope. We agree that all things work together for good in those who love God. Her view is more supernatural than mine, but she was firm with me that I should speak always out of hope. I'm trying to listen to my daughters.

The other night, between fits of sleeplessness. I dreamed I'd forgotten to prepare for a class of children. When I walked in, they were already waiting and singing. What was the lesson last time? Beatitudes? those who morn? I'm madly flipping the pages in search of an text. Then in my ear, practically with music: "The Lord is my light and my salvation." The whole of Psalm 27 may be commended to us all.

Please pray us light and hope. Remember Jeanie (and Dr. Rock) on the 30th. And those of us who gather round in love,


P.S. Jeanie's last communication (and an archive of updates) can be found at thewitness.org. Our friend Beth O'Hara-Fisher up the block will have information before and after the surgery at 313 841-0166.