decisions of life and death, as witnessed by the squirrel

“I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Douglas Adams

(gray squirrel / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

If you’ve ever driven down a road, suddenly spotting a grey mass sitting in the middle of the road…
as you approach said mass, at a nice clip of speed…you quickly, and a bit sickeningly,
realize that the gray mass quickly coming into focus…is a frantic squirrel…
who now sits directly in your immediate field of vision and in the direct path
of your 50 mph plus some odd ton vehicle…
closing in for an immediate and deadly impact.

The squirrel seems stuck in time, shifting left then shifting right…
with this surreal dance of death going on a million times,
within what seems to be an eternity but in actuality is…
a mere few seconds…

If life is good–the squirrel makes the right 11th hour decision by darting
miraculously out of your path by the very hair of his tail.

If life is not good–it is a bad day for the squirrel as you feel badly for that slight bump you feel under your wheels….

I am that squirrel.

The car barreling down on me is dad with cancer…
add to that my on-going searing back and hip pain coupled by the myriad of tests
I’m squeezing in in-between trips to Dads.

The Radiologist oncologist told us today that radiation would be every day for 7 consecutive weeks—everyday I’d commute to and from Atlanta as dad would be zapped.

Not to cure him mind you…just to hopefully keep the tumor at bay….
but for how long, no one can say.

His primary care doctor says he is simply too weak and frail to endure such.
The side effects of radiation in the elderly is weakness, diarrhea and burning…
that is in the best of cases…

He’s already weak, already battles colitis and is not very well overall mentally or physically…
yet that did not seem to deter the doctor today who seemed
more concerned with his ever ringing phone…
as he would step out of the room for 20 minutes here and 10 more minutes there…

He told Dad that if he did nothing it wouldn’t be pretty with pain and misery…
which scared dad into wanting to begin zapping right then and there.
I explained to the doctor that we, as a family, would need to talk about all of this
and discuss this with Dad’s primary care doctor—
at which he seemed a bit incensed that I too didn’t agree to begin immediately.

To be honest, I felt overtly pressured.
He didn’t seem to consider that dad is weak and frail or that he is struggling with his cognizant abilities…
It was more like checking off a list…then wham bam you’re good to go, lets sign you up now…

I called a dear friend who had been one of dad’s nurses over the past year for her input.
I called back to dad’s primary care doctor for his opinion.
I called my husband
I called my cousin.
I called my aunt…
and I cried the entire rush hour traffic ride home…

Everyone who knows dad knows treatment is not the correct route.
But dad is scared.
And dad is very much like a little child.
And the cancer doctors are chomping at the bit…

So this squirrel is at a loss.

I may dip in and out of blogland here and there.
The first time in 3 years.
But I’m feeling my energy, creativity, my very life, ebbing away….
Depression is closing in fast…
it’s wicked hot breath has been on the back of my neck now for months.

Decisions have to be made…
and sickeningly, like the squashed squirrel, the buck stops here.
For I am now the parent of the parent who can no longer make those calls himself.
What is the right decision???
What is the right call???
Quality of life…
length of life…
yet at what state??
How much longer either way?
Aggressive cancer…
Fast growing…

I danced this dance with Mother 30 years ago…
I never would have envisioned walking down this road again…

I pray for a revelation or a Divine intervention—
One that directs our path without regrets, without second guessing…
That the road we go, is to be the right road…the only road…

I’ll be in and out as my strength and mindset allows…


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord,
“and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

17 comments on “decisions of life and death, as witnessed by the squirrel

  1. Lynda says:

    Julie, I am so sorry to hear that you and your dad were under such intense pressure. Prayers for all of your family – especially for you and your dad that you will receive peace in your decision.

  2. Wally Fry says:

    Julie, you dip in and out of blogland as you need to, and remember, most of us are only an e mail away.

    Prayers for sure.

  3. Continuing to pray for God’s will to be revealed to you and your family, especially your father. The only advice I can offer is to rely on “TRUSTED” medical and spiritual advice from those who really know your dad.

  4. Praying for peace, wisdom, and strength.

  5. phyllissnipes says:

    There is much to be considered here, and I think Gregory, Brenton, Abby, Martha, and others who know this situation need to weigh in to help with decision-making. Radiologist oncologists are trained to respond with action – they all do that! But you do indeed have more to consider here! We are holding you close in prayer, you know that!!

  6. Oh Julie, Julie, Julie I’m so very sorry. I’m all about quality of life and not quantity of life. Your dad is so weak already that I don’t believe he would survive all that radiation and to what end. Just to buy him some more time of getting weaker and weaker and frailer and frailer. And no this is not just your dad’s decision. This would take a huge toll on you and you are not well yourself. This would make your situation worse as well. So the whole family needs to be in on this. Or they too need to be willing to do some of that traveling back and forth. The only other thought I have is that maybe if he started the radiation and realized how hard it is on him, he might be willing to call a halt to it himself. As for the oncologist, it’s all about the money, and I believe he was very careless, even to the point of malpractice to some extent for even suggesting this as an option! Julie you MUST consider yourself in this equation and decision. You have a husband, a son, and others who need and depend on you, and you are running yourself into the ground which is not good for you or them. It is definitely a Thy will be done time, oh Lord. Please be with Julie and her family and her dad and give them clear direction about Your will in this situation! Settle her dad’s fears so that He gives it all to you and you give HIm your peace that transcends all understanding. In Jesus’ name! Amen! I love you Julie and if you need me for anything, please let me know. I fully understand your decision to pull back on your blog for a while and hope that you take care of you too! ❤ ❤ ❤

  7. lljostes says:

    Dear Julie, my heart goes out to you and to your Dad as you are faced with this most difficult situation. You are in my prayers, for sure! Because my sister is a Nurse Practitioner who deals with these situations I’ve learned about Palliative Care options. If you can, see if you could find out about a Palliative Care team who could care for your dad. Google Palliative care and go from there….perhaps you will find something in this info that will aid you in your decision making. There ARE ways of dealing with pain should he not receive radiation….that doctor who gave the worst scenario to you and your dad was not very helpful in my opinion. God bless you as walk through this valley. “Keep your eyes on Jesus” and know that He is carrying you both through this time. A big Hug! ~ Laura

    • Thank you so much Laura—I will certainly look into the Palliative Care this afternoon—as of now–I think reason came back to Dad and he is backing off the radiation until we talk further with the primary care doc—I honestly don’t think in his current state that he is up to such a rigorous regime…I’ll let you know what I find out—agian—many many thanks!

  8. ColorStorm says:

    ‘I am that squirrel.’

    Understood and well said jewels. Certainly blogsville is a place u can visit anytime, but there are more pressing issues…………. the little fella is sitting there on a six lane highway with danger and trouble in every direction.

    This may sound trite, or clever, it is neither, but ‘cast your cares upon Him.for He careth for YOU.’

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