The Pathway

By

The Pathway
The Pathway

I stand at the end of the dock. The sun is shining across the horizon onto the rippling waters of the Roanoke Sound. The illusion of a pathway appears, wide at the farthest point to a narrow channel nearest to me. I am amazed at the bright colors reflecting along the water – blue skies beginning to be covered in clouds. It’s mid-morning, nine-thirty I believe, the twenty-fourth of January 2009. I breathe in the chilly air; after all it is January, and the winds hold the coolness of the water. I watch a small crab boat make its way across the open water, the crabber holding his hand across his forehead to shelter his eyes from the bright sunlight. The salt air refreshes my soul, renews my spirit and expands my lungs. The dog is tugging at her leash, but I hesitate. It’s too soon I tell her. I want to enjoy a few more minutes, look over the town. My town. My paradise.

As I watch the sun’s ray sparkle in the water, I think of the day, January 24. This same day four years ago changed my life forever. How would I have known that a short impersonal phone call would drop me to my knees, practically stop my heart and let me see my life pass through my brain? You hear of these stories, many more nowadays than you did in the past. I have read stories in books and magazines, watched movies, documentaries and talk shows, but none of these can prepare you for that fateful call, the voice on the other end telling you to come to the office, not alone, they state. What more did they have to say?

Four years ago, the sparkle that I saw on the water was gone. I saw only gray, darkness and no light at the end of the tunnel. The spoken words flowed from the doctor’s lips, only a few I could comprehend, the few that were the worst. As I clenched my husband’s hands, the tears flowing from both our eyes, what could be worse? The only thoughts that came to mind were diminished by the fact that I was not going to be here to enjoy them. The things in life I took for granted were now a precious commodity. The grandson, who was turning three in a few months, the son and daughter-in-law, the daughter who was newly graduated, just starting her way in adult life. The new car, the new dog, the house, the bills, my job, the rest of my family and friends. But the worst part was holding my hands, wiping my tears, shaking in the chair beside me. My husband of thirty-one years. How would he be able to go on? I ached so hard knowing all of these things would go on, but I wouldn’t be there to see it happen.

I was numb with fear and in pain from the surgery. Treatments were scheduled; time was wasting, according to the doctor’s lips. I went home the day before my forty-ninth birthday. Neighbors were waiting, cards, phone calls and the dog, ever faithful, by my side. I was never one to spend time on myself; there was always my family, my job and the house to take care of. I didn’t know how to relax, to enjoy a nap, to meditate. My body did the job for me, making me sleep, nap and relax, but the mind played tricks. The mind would send thoughts of fear back into me; make me look at what I would be losing, what I would not be part of again. Then, one day, as I was half asleep on the sofa, watching an afternoon talk show, I saw an inspiration, a survivor like myself, telling the world his story. He shared his thoughts both good and bad; he had started out a hero and then became a victim. He found the courage to fight from his mother, and he did. I listened in awe, he spoke of his fears, his thoughts, his desires and his goals, and I heard myself in his voice. I sat up, I wrote down his name, I went online and I researched. I could hear his voice inside my head; over and over again I played back those words. I, too, would fight. I had goals. I had desires. He gave me the courage to keep going. And I have.

Four years. I never thought I would see one year after that fateful phone call, but I have. I found the courage, I found the right doctors, and I found my inner strength to go on. I have learned what is most important in my life, and it is my life. I have taken complete control of my body, my mind, my spirit and my nourishment. I can still hear the words of my nutritionist: “Only put foods in your mouth that nourish your body.” And I do. I started looking at things in a very different way. I admire colors more than I ever did before. I stop and smell the roses, literally, along my walks. I watch the birds, the squirrels, and the rabbits along the paths. I walk along the oceans edge, picking up the pieces of beach glass, the pretty and not-so-pretty shells. I breathe in the salty air. I soak up the sun’s rays.

Four years. In this short span of life, I have seen my grandson grow and start school. I have watched my son become a great father, husband and restaurant manager. I have cried watching my daughter marry the love of her life, move closer to me and start a great career. I have held my husband’s hands, looked into his eyes, wiped his tears and worked to make him more independent. I call old friends, send many emails and letters, gather family photos and write many stories. I am blessed with two four-legged caregivers who snuggle against me to warm my back, who crave my touch and I theirs. These are some of the things I thought I would never see. Of course there has been loss along the way; neighbors, friends, family, my job. But life moves on in its own special way.

So as I turn away from the end of the dock, I sigh and take another look. I speak out loud; I thank God for letting me live. I thank Him for letting me move to this wonderful place called Manteo, along the great Atlantic Ocean. I thank Him for keeping me healthy, and I will continue to thank Him each and every day. And so we walk, my faithful dog and me, along the creaking boardwalk, breathing in the rich salty air, letting the sun warm my face. My spirits are high, my goals and desires are clear. I see the vibrant colors of my life. This disease may still be in my body, but I am determined to not let it take over my soul. One final glance at that sparkling water pathway gives me hope. My pathway is similar, wide open, going forward. The past is in the past, but my future is wide open for as far as I can see.

About this writer

  • The Pathway

    I stand at the end of the dock. The sun is shining across the horizon onto the rippling waters of the Roanoke Sound. The illusion of a pathway appears, wide at the farthest point to a narrow channel nearest to me. I am amazed at the bright colors reflecting along the water – blue skies beginning to be covered in clouds. It’s mid-morning, nine-thirty I believe, the twenty-fourth of January 2009. I breathe in the chilly air; after all it is January, and the winds hold the coolness of the water. I watch a small crab boat make its way across the open water, the crabber holding his hand across his forehead to shelter his eyes from the bright sunlight. The salt air refreshes my soul, renews my spirit and expands my lungs. The dog is tugging at her leash, but I hesitate. It’s too soon I tell her. I want to enjoy a few more minutes, look over the town. My town. My paradise.

    As I watch the sun’s ray sparkle in the water, I think of the day, January 24. This same day four years ago changed my life forever. How would I have known that a short impersonal phone call would drop me to my knees, practically stop my heart and let me see my life pass through my brain? You hear of these stories, many more nowadays than you did in the past. I have read stories in books and magazines, watched movies, documentaries and talk shows, but none of these can prepare you for that fateful call, the voice on the other end telling you to come to the office, not alone, they state. What more did they have to say?

    Four years ago, the sparkle that I saw on the water was gone. I saw only gray, darkness and no light at the end of the tunnel. The spoken words flowed from the doctor’s lips, only a few I could comprehend, the few that were the worst. As I clenched my husband’s hands, the tears flowing from both our eyes, what could be worse? The only thoughts that came to mind were diminished by the fact that I was not going to be here to enjoy them. The things in life I took for granted were now a precious commodity. The grandson, who was turning three in a few months, the son and daughter-in-law, the daughter who was newly graduated, just starting her way in adult life. The new car, the new dog, the house, the bills, my job, the rest of my family and friends. But the worst part was holding my hands, wiping my tears, shaking in the chair beside me. My husband of thirty-one years. How would he be able to go on? I ached so hard knowing all of these things would go on, but I wouldn’t be there to see it happen.

    I was numb with fear and in pain from the surgery. Treatments were scheduled; time was wasting, according to the doctor’s lips. I went home the day before my forty-ninth birthday. Neighbors were waiting, cards, phone calls and the dog, ever faithful, by my side. I was never one to spend time on myself; there was always my family, my job and the house to take care of. I didn’t know how to relax, to enjoy a nap, to meditate. My body did the job for me, making me sleep, nap and relax, but the mind played tricks. The mind would send thoughts of fear back into me; make me look at what I would be losing, what I would not be part of again. Then, one day, as I was half asleep on the sofa, watching an afternoon talk show, I saw an inspiration, a survivor like myself, telling the world his story. He shared his thoughts both good and bad; he had started out a hero and then became a victim. He found the courage to fight from his mother, and he did. I listened in awe, he spoke of his fears, his thoughts, his desires and his goals, and I heard myself in his voice. I sat up, I wrote down his name, I went online and I researched. I could hear his voice inside my head; over and over again I played back those words. I, too, would fight. I had goals. I had desires. He gave me the courage to keep going. And I have.

    Four years. I never thought I would see one year after that fateful phone call, but I have. I found the courage, I found the right doctors, and I found my inner strength to go on. I have learned what is most important in my life, and it is my life. I have taken complete control of my body, my mind, my spirit and my nourishment. I can still hear the words of my nutritionist: “Only put foods in your mouth that nourish your body.” And I do. I started looking at things in a very different way. I admire colors more than I ever did before. I stop and smell the roses, literally, along my walks. I watch the birds, the squirrels, and the rabbits along the paths. I walk along the oceans edge, picking up the pieces of beach glass, the pretty and not-so-pretty shells. I breathe in the salty air. I soak up the sun’s rays.

    Four years. In this short span of life, I have seen my grandson grow and start school. I have watched my son become a great father, husband and restaurant manager. I have cried watching my daughter marry the love of her life, move closer to me and start a great career. I have held my husband’s hands, looked into his eyes, wiped his tears and worked to make him more independent. I call old friends, send many emails and letters, gather family photos and write many stories. I am blessed with two four-legged caregivers who snuggle against me to warm my back, who crave my touch and I theirs. These are some of the things I thought I would never see. Of course there has been loss along the way; neighbors, friends, family, my job. But life moves on in its own special way.

    So as I turn away from the end of the dock, I sigh and take another look. I speak out loud; I thank God for letting me live. I thank Him for letting me move to this wonderful place called Manteo, along the great Atlantic Ocean. I thank Him for keeping me healthy, and I will continue to thank Him each and every day. And so we walk, my faithful dog and me, along the creaking boardwalk, breathing in the rich salty air, letting the sun warm my face. My spirits are high, my goals and desires are clear. I see the vibrant colors of my life. This disease may still be in my body, but I am determined to not let it take over my soul. One final glance at that sparkling water pathway gives me hope. My pathway is similar, wide open, going forward. The past is in the past, but my future is wide open for as far as I can see.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Responses to “The Pathway”

  1. Sylvia Russell Coast says:

    Karen, I am so proud to know you! I love your story !
    I admire your courage and the way you eat only nutrional
    foods that are giving you strength to continue living!

  2. Helen says:

    My sister-in-law Sylvia sent this to us. I was immediately drawn into your story. Your determination is inspiring. I think you may have inspired me to think about food differently. Your mind, body and spirit thinking is a blessing to you and all. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Dan Kennedy says:

    How exciting to read the words and feel your emotions and thoughts! I too am struck by the advice to eat only food that nourishes you. How tough is that advice!
    I pray for you and Steve every day, and I love you.

  4. Anita Rose Marcoline says:

    Karen
    How can it be possible to read these words of encouragement, see your picture and feel like I know you yet we have never met? Thank you for enriching my life. Keep the faith!
    Anita

  5. Good job Karen, we really enjoyed reading your story, we are very proud of you.
    Love You
    Mom and Dad

  6. Barb Criste says:

    Karen, I just read Pathways and I know what you and Steve have been through. We have had many many years of friendship. You both are in my prayers each and every nite. Keep it going girl and you help too Steve.

Leave your mark with style

Comment in style

Stand out from the crowd and add some flare beside your comment.
Get your free Gravatar today!

Make it personal

avatar versus gravatarClose