Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Bag

After the gynecologist called me at work and uttered the words, “You have a breast cancer, “ I cried, I prayed, and withdrew from the speaking world for a bit. Talking proved one of the harder things to do since cancer, said in a quick whisper, seemed to creep up in every conversation.  I know my family and friends felt helpless and wanted to do anything they could to help.  My sister drove to Target that very day I believe, and bought me a scarf. Looking back now I have to giggle a little bit since we couldn’t possibly have known at that point what I might need . Shortly there after she came to my house looking for something to do for me, to run an errand, to clean something, anything, so I told her I needed a bag for chemo.  She brought me one of her own that had been given as a gift to her. She filled it with a blanket, a book, and some snacks, the chemossentials.  My first chemo Doug and I spent the whole day there, CT scan first, blood draw then off to the infusion room for my cocktails. Doug carried that beautiful, bright red bag with him…and to every chemo after that.  Valentines day 2011 the bag was emptied, no more chemo, no more books, no snacks, no magazines, emptied, and it sat empty for almost a year.

In that next year I kept moving the bag to different places in the house as not to look at it.  I would almost gag thinking about the chemo bag, thinking about chemo.  In that bright bag lined in sunshine yellow decorated with blue, white, and green flowers, I had left all my nausea, my weakness, my baldness, my anger, and my pride.  Looking at it wasn’t an option, yet giving it back didn’t seem the solution either. So the bag sat here, then the bag sat there, shoved in a closet, under the bed even, but it’s vibrant colors and shiny coat always managed to peek out from the dark corners. The more I tried to hide it, the more I could see it.  It was useless to hide it, it was a daily reminder of the darkness that lived within the colorful bag. I moved it to the corner of the room and we stared at each other a little bit more each day.

Then this past February I got a call to team on a retreat as a music minister.  Thrilled beyond words my excitement bubbled over. I went to the first meeting with my purse in tow to see what I would need. The next week I took some music sheets in a blue and back canvas bag that Doug received at a trade show.  It held the music but would fall over since the bottom narrowed to a point.  A few weeks later I needed to carry a lot more music, so I put it all in a binder and carried that back and forth, for a while.  Finally it was retreat time, I packed, loaded the guitar, then stared at all the music and stuff I wanted to carry.  I couldn’t find a bag big enough.  The chemo bag lay limp in the corner of the room - I looked at it, but figured all the music wouldn’t fit in there anyway.  After a fruitless search of my house, and at the last minute of course, in a huff I grabbed that ugly old chemo bag.  Funny how when I emptied all the nausea, the weakness, the baldness, the anger and yes the pride, all the music fit just fine, and the bag stood up straight and welcomed the load.  Today I understand that I need to empty my bags so all the good stuff will fit instead.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Enjoy today, worry tomorrow....

I get so caught up in the necessary routine of daily life, the worry about paying bills, going to appointments, getting lab work done, that I sometimes forget to just enjoy the day.  My life’s canvas paints new colors all the time and entwines them with the fading colors from yesterdays, with my memories of childhood. Like this very vivid memory…

My Aunt and Uncle picked me up in the blue hatch back station wagon on their way to their high school reunion, maybe their 20th?  Yvette, my cousin and best friend, feverishly waved her hand motioning me to climb in the very back with her. I got in the wagon, threw my leg over the slippery blue upholstery, and glided in to the very back where only groceries and luggage should go.  The short ride to the county park proved fabulous as we opened the glass window in the hatch back and felt the wind whip around our hair.  When my Uncle parked the car, we sprang out of the back, pushed our now frizzy and very large hair down and raced each other to the pavilion.  The whole day we enjoyed food, games, music and each other’s company.
My Aunt and Uncle were having such a wonderful time with all their friends that the party continued at a local restaurant. The patio found the adults engrossed in conversation while all the kids enjoyed kid stuff. Since cell phones and game boys were just figments of someone’s imagination,  we just ran around and laughed and played, calling Marco and Polo, or wondering if the donkey lady really had a phone number. The night wrapped up sometime in the early morning and off to the back of the blue hatch back station wagon we went. This time I needed no prodding to climb into the back, it was just big enough for us to lie down.  I spent half the years at Yvette’s the other halves she spent at my house, so that night her room was the ticket.  She turned on the radio, said good night to her Adam Ant poster and we listened to Madonna asking her daddy not to preach as our eyes grew heavy and our conversation trailed in between quick moments of sleep.

This month I found myself remembering 25 years ago; my high school graduation, Yvette’s high school graduation. I didn’t go to a park, or take my daughter with me, or pick up one of her cousins.  I sat here quietly remembering my Aunt and Uncle’s fabulous reunion and wondering how I caught up to them so quickly.  The colors I made with Yvette etched so deeply in my mind and on my life’s canvas. I didn’t know why at the time, why everything we did was big and bright and memorable. She blazed through all she did and 25 years later I can still hear her laughter and see her smile.  She lost her brief battle with cancer in 2009, when her daughter was just getting ready to graduate from high school. If she could tell me anything right now, I know she would tell me -  enjoy today, worry tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

my first blog on blogger, I'm a caringbridge junkie

Well, I took the step, away from the wonderful caringbridge site, by the asking of some.  Strangely I love to sing, but I won’t karaoke. So naturally I love to write and I just never blogged. Well here’s to new beginnings.  I don’t have a clear direction of where I would like to take a blog, so we will just have to ride the waves of life and follow the words where they lead us.  I hope you come along for the ride and always know the only thing that stays the same is -  it really is all about todays.