Moments of Vulnerability

Iceland, 2017

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks.

Frankly, I have been struggling with this part of our cancer journey. I want to be able to say something uplifting; lately that has been in short supply. But, for the sake of transparency here is a taste of our lives.

I wake up each morning. Usually the day begins with a sense of normalcy. We savor curling up against each other. We breathe the other in.

Sometimes Doug even takes his oxygen off for a bit so we don’t hear the whistling. Dozing into the morning feels so much a part of our many years together.

As we wake, the new reality sets in. I gently unwind Doug’s paralyzed arm that, moments before, I held close. Medications begin. The wheeled walker is pulled to the bed, a reminder of a fall from Doug’s weakening right leg.

Sometimes I hold still for a moment and wonder what it would be like if we didn’t remember the past. Maybe, with no knowing of what had been before, this moment would hold no suffering. Or maybe we would think that this moment provided healing from a past with more loss? But the past still tugs at me.

I remember running down a trail on Grandfather Mountain in 1982; letting our young strong bodies jump from rock to rock with abandon. It was the same day that Doug told Bob that we were a couple; he was the first to know. I flushed with embarrassment at the revelation.

Our lives are more frail now. Doug’s body is changing day to day. Organs and nerves are ever more vulnerable to the cancer pushing against them. With this comes the removal of armoring. While tears of joy and gratitude have always been readily available for Doug; now, so is the grief and loss from losing more function every day.

I, too, feel more vulnerable. I lose my phone more, or forget the laundry. This morning I discovered that, instead of the lavender laundry soap, I used lavender bleach so my clothes now have that batik look from the 60’s. (Too bad they weren’t bell bottoms as I could call them a retro fashion statement!)

Last night Doug called for help from the bathroom. He was on the toilet with a nosebleed which now is a tricky thing because he needs the oxygen in his nose and only has one arm to navigate with. I helped with the nosebleed while he worked the oxygen and then we shuffled over to the shower.

The shower washed away the blood and the tension. There was a sweetness as we let the water wash it all away. I realize that in these moments when I let go of my agenda on doing and just am here than it allows the sweetness of the moment to be.   In that tenderness there isn’t the nosebleed or tension.. Just the two of us taking a gentle shower.

After showering, we crawled into bed, both of us smelling clean from our unexpected shower. Reading, touching… sleeping.


29 thoughts on “Moments of Vulnerability

  1. Walker, I have never met you. Nor Doug in person, though many have been the emails, virtual classes, phone calls of his coaching me. And yet with your post you share intimate, tender moments with Doug in the right now. I treasure your offering with deepest respect and gratitude. No, we have not met and still you and Doug allow me among others to be present. I cannot help but love you both. May you feel the embrace of those of “us at the edges” whose lives you touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart is deeply touched by this, Walker. By the pain, the joy, the enduring commitment to each other and to being present with what is. All of it. And my heart aches for both of you. Sending both of you grace, courage and wisdom. And most of all, sending you love.


  3. My heart aches and softens as I read your honest, sober and tender way of being in the difficult circumstances of your (and Doug’s) life. I am deeply touched. Thank you for sharing this journey. Sending you and Doug much love.


  4. I wish that all the Kidwell clan that gathered Saturday could be with you now and shower you with hugs and kisses. This part of the journey can be rough.


  5. Aaaahhhh…sigh…..Aaaahhhhh… yes it is all so beautifully and painfully spoken of by you. Thank you for your expressions, holding you both gently and with love-


  6. Dear Walker,
    I hope one day our paths will cross, so that I might personally extend my profound gratitude to you for allowing us to share your journey of pain, suffering, loss, tenderness, love, humor, hope eternal.


  7. Thank you Walker. I appreciate your update. What a tender and sad and raw and challenging and sacred part of this journey. I am extending my heart to you and Doug. Bev


  8. Thank you for keeping us updated with your days–they are difficult and I can imagine easier to not share. But, to witness such love and tenderness is a gift you’re giving to us all.


  9. You make this process of surrendering so human, loving and beautiful. The pain body will leave, and the beauty and energy remain…in hearts and minds and stories for always….
    Lifting you both up in the ways I do….
    Loving you from a distance…


  10. Thank you, Walker for sharing “a taste of your lives”. What a real and touching glimpse
    of moments you share -tender, sweet, grief filled, difficult and restful.
    Holding you both with love and support.


  11. Walker, thanks for your honest sharing- you are both in my meditation daily along with Bebe – and so it is lovely to have an update. I treasure each post. On Sunday I held a pop-up art show of my work over the last 6 years and there is a signature piece entitled “Love Pours Forth From the Heart if the Universe” and I dedicated it to Doug, as this is the meditation is from Snatam Kaur. I am not sure how to send the picture on the blog post. I can email it Bebe and ask her to send it to you. Much love and tenderness to you both. xo Coleen


  12. Walker,
    Thank you for sharing your journey. Your words have taught me. Your words have touched me. I met Doug in 2010 at the Hudson Institute’s Annual Coaching Conference. His presentation and approach to life moved me. He shared his thoughts about the constant process of being present, of letting go of attachments in order to respond to what is emerging, and being connected to the systems around us. You both have modeled the way. My heart goes out to you. Peace, prayers and blessings.


  13. Walker – your tender care of Doug is so wonderful to hear about and witness. Thank you for writing about a typical challenging and wonderful day together.


  14. It’s so painful to read of Doug’s diminishing capacity, but I’m all the same heartened to know he has you at his side. Your compassion and tender caring come through in all you write. I know he’s feeling it, and that it eases his pain and struggle.

    Jan Austin

    From: Let Life Live Through You Reply-To: Let Life Live Through You Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 11:09 AM To: Subject: [New post] Moments of Vulnerability

    Walker Silsbee posted: ” I haven’t blogged in a few weeks. Frankly, I have been struggling with this part of our cancer journey. I want to be able to say something uplifting; lately that has been in short supply. But, for the sake of transparency here is a taste of our lives. “


  15. I love you guys so much … shew …. I so deeply appreciate the shared intimacy of this potent journey. We continue to hold the sacred ground for the most beautiful continued unfolding. Love from Joe and I Debra



  16. Thank you Walker for all that you convey. I attend from afar, hold you and Doug in my prayers and send great love and tenderness to you both, Carrie in NZ


  17. I am honored and blessed to bear witness to your journey. Your love is a learning I carry in my heart and bestow with gratitude on my path. Sending you strength, peace, love.


  18. Thank you Walker for such generosity of heart, sharing your journey and reflections on life…and the true definition of essential moments. I hold you and Doug in my prayers. I feel grateful to receive these gifts to slow me down and pay more attention to the moment. It is helping me be with my parents today on what may very well be my stepfather’s last trip.


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