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Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Rebirthday

So 45 years ago tomorrow I landed here. Kind of surreal because I came in the hard way...from young parents - pregnancy inducted marriage, stationed in Germany, not sure what the hell they were doing and yet, here I was - quite likely as confused and new as they were. I don't have any real words of wisdom - gd help me if I ever hit the lecture circuit but I do have contentment. Maybe I was chasing this my whole life. The wiggling and fidgeting I did through my childhood trying to find that sweet spot between joy and safety. Having Maddie changed my life. It was the first time I was really and truly terrified. Being responsible for this little thing who signed up with me. Surely the gods must be crazy. Giving this human to one as incompetent as me. Then came the rest of my team, slowly, each reformatting me into something better. Patience. Trust. Confidence. With each child I found within myself a paradigm shift. I was raising them but they were reshaping me. I spent several years shaking in my boots. Not sure of what I was doing, never certain I had it right and certainly lacking any cocktail party smack ability to share my successes...I laid low, under the radar and walked through life with a chair and a whip. I trusted no one. A shifty childhood by a mother who had her own demons and a dad who did the best he knew how to do. I found my way...without parental coordinates and a plan I scraped and clawed and sailed and manipulated through the wild and the sane and arrived somewhere between lost and found. And yet after a miserably failed marriage and the scraped knees of learning, I stood before a justice of the peace in Maryland and promised Joseph I would never stop believing in him or in me. I fell backwards into his arms and never looked back. I knew when I was with him I was 100 different women yet I was more myself than I have ever been. And as I stand looking at 45 years here, I see only one thing. Contentment. Not sure really who Riley is but I have his life. It's a warmth, a safety, a drifting peace that no matter really what happens, I am really good. I've waited my entire life for this. I have everything I need (well, I could use a Keurig) and everyone I want to share it with. As my friend Ronni reminded me - I am not waiting for the good scan. Eating off the good plates, sleeping later when I can, celebrating. My birthday was a day I didn't usually love...not sure why - Dr Freud on Line Two but I can say this year it's different. I am taking it with a side of whipped because I know two things: I want to show my kids how to celebrate themselves and I want to show my kids how to celebrate themselves. I want them to feel wanted and cherished and adored...for those who have no idea what I am saying, mazel tov to your parents on a job well done. And mine too. They made me the bad ass I needed to be to kick Cancer's ass. So to my husband, sleep well and eat well, I'm not ready to leave you for at least another 50 years and to my children, I celebrate you today. I am here and content and joyful because of you and how you made me better. So Happy Birthday to me. and Happy Re-birthday to me. I mean come on, anyone can be born, right?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Needed most

Just saw a story about a man who stood by his fiancee after a car accident rendered her severely disabled. Saw so many comments commending him and it really had me captivated. We aren't used to seeing such a thing - not sure why...maybe we are so self serving we forget those commitments we make. Maybe we are so entitled that hitching our wagon to a disabled horse won't work for us or maybe therapists have told us how worthy we are for so long we believe our needs are all that matter. Maybe we just can't hack it. Okay...but then what good are we? I remember being in a very disabling car accident when I was 20 and the sailor boyfriend I had at the time, left...couldn't manage me and crutches but hey, he called and checked on me which was delightful given it took me 20 mins to hobble over to the phone. No loss there I suppose. Maybe instead of asking new couples if they are truly in love with, truly amenable, truly attracted to each other, we should ask if they are willing to change bandages - through thick and thin should be a weight question, not a life question. Great that you are both on the same page with religion but what happens if he loses his legs or she loses her spirit? Can she push a wheelchair? Can he help her with a lifetime of medicine? When Joseph was told I would not only lose both my breasts but would spend two years in significant weight gain, hair loss and rashes covering my body and my mouth I looked to him for the pained face...the one that says "this wasn't in the brochure"...what I got was, well, if they wittle you down to a head, I will buy a bowling bag and carry you around with me. Creepy and romantic all rolled together. But then it happened. The morning I woke up from breast surgery I saw his face - no tears, no shock, no nothing from his eyes that said anything other than how much he missed me. With every pound I gained, he offered to gain with me through wings and beer. With every rash he tended to with awful smelling creams and gels, he told me it's kind of kinky :)...when he would freeze aloe to put over my burns from radiation, he smiled up at me and asked what else he could do. And then when my hair came out, he said he had a thing for bald women...sort of a Star Trek fetish and shaved his own head in solidarity. All 6'4 of him slept slumped over in a chair next to me after each surgery and holding the bucket while I threw up, screaming at a nurse who he felt didn't treat me appropriately (and she didn't - what a bitch) and refusing to leave the PAC U post op, where no family is allowed. Three years, seven surgeries, 11 chemo treatments and five weeks of radiation and he never once considered anything else...well if he did, he never told me. He has coaxed me into being more comfortable with the battlefield that is my chest. Scarred from collarbone to stomach, tattoos dotting the way for radiation, deep gashes and purple scars - he wants so much to hold me to them and I want so much to be anyone else at that moment. Even my recent decision to go without the fake boobs, I said to him "they stare" and he says, "Fuck 'em". So to the newlyweds...can she lose her breasts and her sanity and you will find her deep inside and hang on? Can he lose his mind or his legs and will you stand behind and beside that wheelchair? Can you two still see each other no matter what happens? Because if you can't say fuck 'em when they stare - leave now.