In two days, I will know if, and to what extent, my immunotherapy treatments are destroying the merkel cancer cells in my body. I’ll also add another form of treatment (radiation or limb perfusion) to my regiment, and so once again – in two days – my life will change in a way that I never expected.
The oddsmakers will tell you that I have a good chance of hearing good news. The most likely outcome is that everything is working, and that I should be putting more money back for a long retirement decades from now. It’s unlikely that I’ll hear bad news. I know that in my very being, despite the fact that getting a) this cancer b) at this age c) in my arm was unlikely, too.
But, the truth of it is we just don’t know what’s going to happen on Tuesday. No matter the results, the months since my diagnosis have shown me that I’ll be okay, that Aaryn, Nathan, and Levi will be okay. They’re strong, and so am I.
Over the last few months, a thought has continued to surface, usually while I’m getting infusions or scans, or dealing with the episodic, yet undeniable, side effects of my treatment. I’ve been tempted to share it , but have refrained out of fear of shooting my mouth off and making it worse for someone else. But, with just two days until I know how I am actually faring and move from this spot from which I currently stand, there’s something I want to share with you, something that that I don’t think I would be able to know were I not holding this holy space with life and death.
There is a dying worse than the threat of physical death. It is the dying of the spirit too many of us experience while we are otherwise alive. It comes in many forms and goes by many different names: some therapeutic and some spiritual. In the most chaotic and terrifying depths of my trauma, sitting on the ground in our bedroom rocking back and forth between the tears and gasps, I told Aaryn, “It feels like I’m dying, like all my insides have given up. It hurts so bad, but I just can’t die!”
I felt my spirit dying. It left me unable to function in this life and made me want to give it away. For lack of a better word, I felt possessed by all the evil, harmful things of this world.
The possibility of a very real physical death, in comparison, has rooted me more deeply in the soil of this life and shown me definitively just how wonderful and fragile it is. Coming on the heals of my trauma diagnosis and treatment, the possibility of physical death has allowed me to embrace and reclaim my life.
The irony of it all is so unbelievable it has to be believed. It feels like one of those beatific moments with Jesus where he’d be like “I know you’ve heard it said that death is the thing you should most fear, but I say unto you that the death of spirit is far worse.”
So, why am I telling ya’ll this? Because the dying of spirit as I have experienced it and have had it described to me by others begins when human beings visit imaginable horrors unto each other: violence, war, abuse, domination, exploitation, and all the other dark stars that make up that constellation. Each of us has the power to visit the dying of spirit upon others through our words and actions, and it’s my hope that by telling you that it’s far worse than the very real possibility of physical death that it will reassure those who have felt it that they’re not crazy (it actually is as bad as it feels) and at least place before those who bring that hurt to other an unvarnished description of the consequences of their actions.
It’s up to us to disrupt the designs of those who would visit the dying of spirit upon others. It’s up to us to help those who have already experienced it to reclaim their God-given lives. It’s up to us – each and everyone – to make sure the living can live while they are alive. At least…this is what I’ve come to know somewhere in between dying and death.
6 thoughts on “Somewhere Between”
Thank you Brandon for writing this and sharing it.
Praying for you and your sweet family, Brandon.
Asking for the Holy Spirit to minister to and draw you near to the feet of Jesus. The feet of Jesus is where I always want to be. You are loved by so many and have a plan and our purpose from Our Father GOD since before he formed the earth. He knows our every thought and loves us ao deeply with his Mercy and Grace. 🙏🙏🙏🙏
Powerful reflections and thank you for sharing. God continues to work through you and it is an inspiration. We love you and prayer for your healing both physically and spiritually.
Time to re-read Dylon Thomas’ poem “Don’t Go Gently Into That Good Night”
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Thank you Brandon for sharing. I have also had this but it is different for everyone. What I have come to learn is that we die a bit all the time but after the death is rebirth. You have and are undergoing huge transformations both not of your doing but you are still here. You are working through the trauma and that is the hardest and best thing to do. Visiting nature anywhere! With Aaryn and the boys or just by yourself and it heals your soul. As you know I have been through so much but ai know this to be true you have for this!! Changing and letting go of our ego is the hardest thing but in the other side of an ego death is the best! I pray for your healing the family and for the wisdom of your health body mind and spirit.
In Love and Gratitude
This post blessed my spirit. I’m sorry you’re experiencing such pain. Hopeful for good news.