As you know, Libby’s T-cell mandibular lymphoma first diagnosed and treated since last November 2017 is being stubborn. Her Pet scan was clear after chemo in February but immediately after 17 rounds of radiation has unfortunately returned. She has started a new treatment that is working to eradicate the disease. This website has been created to not only share her updates but also to be a support for others going through cancer battles and for all of those that want to share in her life journey. Based on her resilient parents Betty and Bill, the mantra of her brother Bill, who died of ALS at 43, and her cancer surviving sister’s Sheri and Lisa, the Sims Family philosophy is to “never give up,” always have hope and laugh a lot! Faith, Hope, and Love to all of you! In this life adventure, in the face of adversity, you must always try to see the bright side! We invite you to follow here and post your story but please do not post this website on social media. Thank you…
100 thoughts on “The Story Begins”
The Second Music
Now I understand that there are two melodies playing,
one below the other, one easier to hear, the other
lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard yet
When all other things seem lively and real,
this one fades. Yet the notes of it
touch as gently as fingertips as the sound
of the names laid over each child at birth.
I want to stay in that music without striving or cover.
If the truth of our lives is what it is playing,
the telling is so soft
that this mortal time, this irrevocable change,
becomes beautiful. I stop and stop again
to hear the second music.
I hear the children in the yard, a train, then birds.
All this is in it and will be gone. I set my ear to it as I would
to a heart.
Annie Lightheart, from Iron String
LikeLiked by 1 person
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am
following your will does not mean that I am actually doing
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never
leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude
Hi Lib. Thinking about you this morning and hoping your belly is feeling better. Here’s a thought worth thinking:
Forgiving means giving up all hope for a better past.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Here’s another poem that reminds me of you:
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII
Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
Where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne,
becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
Above All, Trust in the Slow Work of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to
reach the end without delay. We should like to skip
the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
something new. Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability and that
may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you. Your ideas mature gradually.
Let them grow. Let them shape themselves without undue
haste. Do not force them on as though you could be
today what time – that is to say, grace – and circumstances
acting on your own good, will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming
in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is
leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Thinking of you and hoping you’re able to be outside on this beautiful Sunday. Love, love, love.
Ducks at Peace
I’d like to take my family to the lake,
Father said, so they can see how well
the animal and fish kingdoms get along
You hardly ever see ducks fighting.
If they do, it’s done in private.
We should follow their example,
and not air out our dirty laundry in public.
That is what I told your mother
at the restaurant, that she should
save her complaints for when we
get home. She said she had already
complained there. She was hoping
she’d get better results if she changed locations.
Hal Sirowitz, from Father Said
She and My Grandad
My grandfather – who died in 1970 –
The year Sexual Politics was published –
called objects – screwdrivers, blow torches, trucks
and sometimes even abstractions – winter,
pain, time – by the singular
feminine pronoun – she or her. For instance, he would say,
I reckon she’s coming up on quitting time,
Or (of a favorite hammer), I guess
She ain’t nowhere to be found. Kate Millett
asked about the future of the woman’s movement,
said, How in the hell do I know? I don’t run it,
to which Granddad – at war with Gradmama all
my life but drawn to women, always polite –
would have said, Yes Ma’am, can’t nobody run her.
David Huddle, from She and My Granddad
I think this is a hoot. Sounds just like my dad who was a farmer from boyhood until death. He talked just like this poem.
Here’s a poem written by Marie Howe, a Catholic poet, who lost her brother to AIDS some years ago. Her loss inspired a number of published poetry works. This one rings pretty true for me. A lot of her work deals with the loss of her brother and also her spiritual journey during that experience and since. If you’re interested in reading some of her work, send me a note and I’ll round up a few volumes. Love you. Have another good day….
Every day I speak with you. And every day something more
important calls for my attention –
the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage
trucks outside already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.
Marie Howe, from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time
What the Heart Cannot Forget
Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.
The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.
The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.
The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly toward it long ago.
And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.
The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.
Joyce Sutphen, from What the Heart Cannot Forget
I hope you’ve had a good day, dear Libby.
I hope your belly is calm today and your energy is just enough for you to enjoy the sunshine then take a nap. Loved your video of the rainbow.
Was it dissatisfaction or hope
that beckoned some of the monkeys
down from the trees and onto the damp
forbidden musk of the forest floor?
Which one tested his thumbs
against the twig
and awkwardly dug a grub
from the soil?
What did the tribe above think
as it leaned on the slender branches
watching the others
but pinching grubs
with leathery fingers
into their mouths?
The moral is movement
is awkward. The lesson is fumble.
Eliza Griswold, from Wideawake Field
New York Notes
1. Caught on a side street in heavy traffic, I said to the
cabbie, I should have walked. He replied, I should have
been a doctor.
2. When can I get on the 11:33, I ask the guy in the
information booth at the Atlantic Avenue Station.
When they open the doors, he says.
I am home among my people.
Harvey Shapiro, from How Charlie Shavers Died and Other Poems
Good morning Libby,
I’m so glad to hear you’re back in your own home. Hope that will give every good thing within you a healthy boost!
Beloved Lord, Almighty God!
Through the rays of the sun,
Through the wave of the air,
Through the All-pervading Life in space,
Purify and revivify me, and I pray,
Heal my body, heart, and soul.
Hazrat Inayat Khan
A poem from Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Ann, I always enjoy the poems to Libby. Thank you for sharing. Rumi is a favorite of mine also.
Glad you like the poems. I hope they give Libby a little boost each day. I ran into her at the drug store yesterday and it was such a surprise for both of us! Thank you for all you’re doing to grow this girl back to health.
Remember all those colors you put on the walls at The Bridge? So much fun; and the prettiest old school house anybody could have ever imagined. This poem sounds almost like Dr. Seuss.
Honey, pepper, leaf-green limes
Pagan fruits whose names are rhymes,
Mangoes, breadfruit, ginger-roots,
Cho-cho, ackees, tangerines,
Lemons, purple Congo-beans,
Sugar, okras, kola-nuts,
Citrons, hairy coconuts,
Fish, tobacco, native hats,
Gold bananas, woven mats,
Plantains, wild-thyme, pallid leeks,
Pigeons with their scarlet beaks,
Oranges and saffron yams,
Baskets, ruby guava jams,
Turtles, goat-skins, cinnamon,
All-spice, conch-shells, golden rum.
Black skins, babel – and the sun
That burns all colors into one.
And then there’s Gerard Manley Hopkins, who must surely have inspired Dr. Seuss:
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finchs’ wings
Landscape plotted and pieced -fold, fallow,and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
WIth swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Hey Lib. I hope you’ve had a reprieve from the urps and therefore gained 10 pounds.
God our Mother,
River of Mercy,
Source of Life,
in whom we live
and have our being,
who quenches our thirst,
refreshes our weariness,
be for us always
a fountain of life,
and for all the world
a river of hope
springing up in the midst
of the deserts of despair.
Honor and blessing,
glory and praise
to You forever.
Medical Mission Sisters
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills before you
will burst into song,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn
will grow the cypress,
and instead of briars
will come up the myrtle.
This will be for the glory of the Lord,
for an everlasting sign
which will not be destroyed.
Blessings on you and all those you love dear Libby. Ann
In The Alley
In the alley behind the florist’s shop
a huge white garbage truck was parked and idling.
In a cloud of exhaust, two men in coveralls
and stocking caps, their noses dripping,
were picking through the florist’s dumpster
and each had selected a fistful of roses.
As I walked past, they gave me a furtive,
conspiratorial nod, perhaps sensing
that I, too (though in my business suit and tie)
am a devotee of garbage – an aficionado
of the wilted, the shopworn, and the free –
and that I had for days been searching
beneath the heaps of worn-out, faded words
to find this brief bouquet for you.
Ted Kooser, from Valentines
Everything is blooming, hay fever is full blown, there are more sunny days than gray, and I wish I could sneak into my neighbor’s yard and clip some azalea blossoms for you. Love
To Be a Danger
Just once I’d like to be a danger
To something in this world,
Be hunted by the cops
And forced into hiding in the mountains,
Since if they left me on the streets
I’d turn the country around,
Changing everyone’s mind with a word.
But I’ve lived so long a quiet life,
In a world I’ve made small,
That even my own mind changes slowly.
I’m a danger only to myself,
Like the daydreaming night watchman
Smoking his cigar
Near the dynamite shed.
C. G. Hanzlicek, from The Cave
Put this in your pocket and carry it with you all day:
There is the heaven we enter
through institutional grace
and there are the yellow finches bathing and singing
in the lowly puddle.
love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love
Libby, I’m encouraged by your reports. I’m guessing you would like for this to move faster, however, forward progress is good for your public to hear about!
In The Storm
Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing
hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,
five inches long
with beaks like wire,
snowflakes on their backs,
in a row
behind the ducks – whose backs were also
covered with snow –
they were all but touching,
they were all but under
the roof of the ducks’ tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,
for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away
out over the water
which was still raging.
they came back
and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
let them crouch there, and live.
If someone you didn’t know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?
Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned –
if not enough else –
to live with my eyes open.
I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This isn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness –
As now and again some rare person has suggested –
is a miracle.
As surely it is.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of rain
are moving across landscapes
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
A whole new freshman class
of leaves has arrived
on the dark twisted branches
we call our woods, turning
green now – color of
anticipation. In my 76th year,
I know what time and weather
will do to every leaf.
But the camellia swells
to ivory at the window,
and the bleeding heart bleeds
Linda Pastan, from Traveling Light
Does one really have to fret
No matter what road I travel,
I’m going home.
Shinsho (my first cousin)
Libby My Dear,
There is absolutely nothing redeeming about stomach issues. You’re a trooper to keep up your regular routine. I don’t know how you do it. God must have given you an extra dose of “Don’t tell me I can’t do it!” I do hope the prednisone makes you feel better. Living in the mystery of all you’ve experienced is enough to give anybody a belly ache.
I can’t resist sending you any poem that has a red bird in it…
A Thousand Mornings
All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening,
the wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing.
Love from me to you and constant hopes for endurance and patience.
No bird in this one – a horse –
Who the Meek Are Not
Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent
under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep
in the rice paddy muck,
not the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles
make the wheat fall in waves
they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan
nun says we misread
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them.
To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who –
at his master’s voice – seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.
Mary Karr, from Sinners Welcome
I’m still thinking of you every day and hoping some of your ups and downs are beginning to level out. You are a dear one, Love you, Ann
Hello Libby Libby,
A Glimpse of the Eternal
a sparrow lighted
on a pine bough
right outside my window
and a puff
of yellow pollen
Ted Kooser, from Delights and Shadows
Blessings and love, Ann
Saint Francis and the Sow
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Galway Kinnell, from Three Books
Happy Mother’s Day Lib. I hope you’re feeling weller all the time. Love you, Starr
Take Something Like a Star
O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud-
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may take something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
Every poem you post becomes my favorite until the next one. Happy that your sharing with Libby blesses her and all who love her
Carolyn, it’s so good to know there’s a poetry fan watching this site. Don’t know what I’d do without the poets.
Hey Libby Friend, I hope the steroid jitters have subsided by now and you’re feeling like a normal human bean again. Here is a lovely poem by Jane Kenyon. She’s a favorite poet of mine. She had bipolar disorder – suffered from mania and depression – took drugs in all kinds of combinations to try to cope. Somehow she continued to write and publish beautiful poems.
Let Evening Come
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.
Jane Kenyon, from Collected Poems
Another by Jane Kenyon…Love you Lib
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years…
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper…
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me…
I am food on the prisoner’s plate…
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills…
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden…
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge…
I am the heart contracted by joy…
the longest hair, white
before the rest…
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow…
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit…
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name…
Jane Kenyon, from Collected Poems
A blessing for you:
Our old women gods, we ask you!
Our old women gods, we ask you!
Then give us long life together,
May we live until our frosted hair
Is white; may we live till then
This life that now we know!
Tewa Prayer, from Life Prayers
Hello Lib. Thinking about you – as always-
It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the axe handle: oh, let me stay
here humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me; for, somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and windmill
rear so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.
Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.
William Stafford, from Learning to Live in the World
Ann, I have told you before but want to say again that I love the poetry you select for Libby and her friends and relatives. I try to write poetry myself and am always in awe of poets who make every word count.
Libby, it’s so good to get this stellar report! I know every day is not as breezy and fun as it would be if you had more energy. But you have made your challenges an adventure for the rest of us – seemingly invested with enthusiasm – when I know you must have your moments of exasperation. I’m glad things are going well at work and that your family is still knit closely around you. I think of you so often. I noted that you’re “flinging yourself” around the golf course again. I still laugh about that day when you told me to “get back in the golf cart and stop flinging myself around!” I enjoy telling that story to anyone who wants to hear about my golf skills. Loving you every day, Ann
A Poem to read after El Paso
If you are not to become a monster,
you must care what they think.
If you care what they think,
how will you not hate them,
and so become a monster
of the opposite kind? From where then
is love to come – love for your enemy
that is the way of liberty?
From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go
free of you, and you of them;
they are to you as sunlight
on a green branch. You must not
think of them again, except
as monsters like yourself,
pitiable because unforgiving.
Wendell Berry, from Entries: Poems