Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scabs and Scars and other Wounds

It could be a headline or an article or something that screams CANCER...I have to look. I must look. I must pick at the scab that is almost healing.

Inevitably, the article will be about someone who has died or was given a terminal diagnosis. Stop picking Goddammit! But it's too late. The scab is off and the blood is running. "This isn't me," I tell myself. But it doesn't matter. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, everyone's story is your story. At least, that's how you can feel. 

Time passes, the scab turns into  yet another scar. Life continues. One day you're mindlessly going through your old voicemails, you know the ones you saved because they're so awesome and just make you smile? Yeah, those. And you hear your friend's voice and she's crying because she's so happy about your last scan results and she's saying , "It's over, you did it!!" And you're happy with her for that moment until you realize that voicemail was from November, before the recurrence and you sink so deeply into the chair you almost fold into yourself. And the scar bursts open and there are tears and hand trembles and you realize you've been rocking but can't recall when you started doing that. And you wonder how many times this is going to happen before you finally crack. You think about the last two years and how incredible they have been and how strong you've been and you think, "Can I maintain this?" And you answer yourself with a "Fuck Yeah!"  But there is that tremble again and you wonder if you're just slapping Band-Aids on a serious wound that maybe needs more help than you ever thought possible. You begin to curse the reiki session that cracked your soul wide open yesterday. Best to keep it all inside as to not get everything messy, right? But your soul aches for healing and is reaching in every direction for the one thing, the one word, the one crystal that will make it all better; where it will all make sense. So you keep searching. Because it's out there. You may die trying, but you'll find it and your wounds will close and you will finally be healed. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

No Bags Allowed!

Parties are always sources of great stress. There is menu planning, guest lists and always last minute shopping. But when a party is centered on something that truly means something to you, something that comes from your heart, the need to get everything 'just right' is intensified. 

On Saturday, I threw a 'Cancerversary' party. It was a recognition of two years of struggle, of ups and downs, disappointments and miracles. It was a celebration of the fact that I am still here; living and growing and grateful for each day. I invited people who mean something to me and are important parts of my life. Without their support, I can't imagine what these last few years would have been like. 

The day was going so well; despite the heat and imminent rain. The caterers were so on top of their game, I really didn't have to do much except mingle and dance and, at times, adjust the music volume. Most guests were either lounging in the pool or hanging around various corners of my backyard. There was an awesome energy floating around and I felt at peace.

As the evening was winding down and a few of my friends were preparing to leave, I decided that now would probably be the best time to say a few words of gratitude to those in attendance. How could I not? Some of them for two years rearranged their schedules to be with me, took trains every weekend to Long Island to sit with me, or checked in on me daily in some way. No words I could say could ever adequately explain the depth of love, admiration and gratitude I had for them. I lowered the music and began by saying, " I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for coming and I want you to know just how much you mean to me."  "CUT THE BULLSHIT AND JUST GET BETTER!!" Wait, what? Did I just get heckled at my own party? I nervously smiled and continued, "I hope you all know how much I love you. Because of your support, I got the chance to see my son graduate from high school." "ENOUGH WITH THE BULLSHIT AND JUST GET BETTER ALREADY, OK?" It was my uncle who kept interrupting me. So clearly uncomfortable with my display of emotion that he felt the need to try and shut me down. I didn't know what to do so I smiled and said, "I'm trying" then preceded to walk into the house, feeling so defeated and angry that I wanted to punch a wall. Every meditation, every sageing, every healing crystal in my possession did not stop the feeling of rage that welled up inside of me. Fuck! I walked into my room and closed the door.

Soon, there was a knock. It was my friend, a friend who literally has not left my side since the day of my diagnosis. She was enraged. "Bullshit?Who the fuck is he? I haven't seen him once at your house in two years and he's trying to tell you to cut your bullshit?" I could see how worked up she was getting. We sat and cried for two years of heartbreak. Two years of recovery and chemotherapy, hair loss, sickness and fear. Two years of clinging to each other just to hold on to our sanity. And then I understood. That outburst wasn't about me at all. It was all him and his weakness and his fear. What I faced scared the hell out of him and he didn't want a reminder of it. He didn't want to know of my strength because it reminded him of his weakness. I stopped being angry and felt empathy for someone so clearly hurting 

Someone else's reaction is never about you. They are bringing a lifetime of their baggage to your party. So I say my next party will not have a 'BYOB' on the invitation which can be misinterpreted as 'BringYour Own Baggage' but instead I'll have an 'LTSATD' (Leave That Shit At The Door). My bags are heavy enough without having to carry someone else's shit.

Party on and Namaste!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Cancerversary!

What have I done in the last two years?
I haven't learned to cook
Or clean a house properly
I haven't house trained my dog fully
I can't throw a baseball, basketball or football
Or get my garage in order (although it's on the list)

So to answer the question what have I done, I will say this:
I've learned to love
I've broken down the wall I spent 35 years building
I've learned the past is done and guilt is a useless emotion
The future is mostly out of our control so stop worrying about it
It will be what it will be

I've learned that all we have is now
This time together
To love and to share and to connect
I won't waste it with petty, self damaging behavior
I choose to be the light and the love that lifts up those around me

I've learned that moments such as seeing my son walk across the stage to accept his diploma are the exact ones that have kept me fighting for my life.
I want more of them.

I've learned profound gratitude 
I've learned what it feels like to be deeply loved by someone
Not because this is the first time I've been loved, but it's the first time I've accepted it.

I don't take each new day for granted.
When I awake every morning I say a prayer of thanks; for the people in my life, for the healing that has occurred within me, for another day of learning and sharing.

2 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. 2 years ago my life crumbled all around me. But here I am; stronger, more compassionate, happier than I ever thought I could be.
Funny how life works, huh?

Tonight, whether we are together or not, I ask that you raise a glass and toast to life and living and love. I hold you all in my heart and I thank you.