Sunday, May 29, 2011

A day to forget

I’m having a hard time. There’s no way around it. I keep trying to turn the corner but I just can’t seem to do it.

Sometimes it’s the big things, the obvious stuff that would keep anyone up at night…like, will the cancer come back, will I live a natural lifespan? That’s understandable…I can deal with all that long term, I think. But it’s actually the little things that hold me back from moving on…I’m finding the subtle stuff worse. All those countless reminders, the myriad ways that the aftermath of cancer infuses every nuance of my life. That’s what is eating away at me. And not just me.

Daniel has a number of mosquito bites on his leg and he is very upset by them. At first I thought it was the idea of a creature biting him that was the trouble, but he seems more worried about the appearance of the red bumps. I’ve had to assure him numerous times that they will go away, he won’t be marked forever.

This morning I think I finally figured out why it has been so disturbing for him. He asked me if the boo-boo on my reconstructed breast would ever go away. The scar from the skin necrosis is significant, and what’s left of my nipple & areola is markedly different than my unaffected breast. I told him that no, it would not go away, but that was okay. I explained again to him that the boo-boo didn’t hurt, it was a scar from when Mama had cancer. Did he remember that, I asked? No. He burst into tears that my boo-boo was there forever -- and that’s when I knew…he was afraid his mosquito bumps would be too. I reassured him over and over again that his bites were not the same as Mama’s scar. He seemed to feel better but was still quite sad that my boo-boo was permanent. I told him that I was okay with mine, that I even was happy to have the scar because it was from the doctors taking out cancer, and if they didn’t do that I would have gotten very sick and not been here to take care of him and watch him grow up.

It’s hard to believe he doesn’t remember the summer of my mastectomy in 2009, but then again, why would he, he was only 2 at the time. He barely remembers me being sick from chemo in 2010 either. However he does fondly recollect my hair and every once in a while he’ll say how much he misses it. It’s longer now, finally down over my ears…but still not long enough to play with the way he used to.

Daniel doesn’t remember nursing, either, and that breaks my heart to pieces, I will truly never get over having to wean him and the painful process that was. He’s heard us talk about nursing, tho, and I’d like to think on some subconscious level it’s still there in his little soul, all those tender moments, that precious experience. After seeing a baby nurse on TV last night he asked me if I could ever give him milk again from my “ta-ta” (what we used to call it). I hesitated for a minute and by the time I was ready to answer him he’d moved on to another subject. I’m glad. I don’t know if I could have held it together even after all this time.

The trifecta came just a few moments ago. I decided to clean out a drawer of a long dresser by our front door. The first thing I pulled out was a receipt. It was from an upscale maternity boutique, one that I visited only once. I needed nursing bras. Michael had found a silly little baseball cap and bought it for Daniel. It was listed on the receipt by what it said across the front…“Boob Man” -- $15.00 .

My kid had mosquito bites, I cleaned out a drawer and WHAM, here I sit trying not to drown my keyboard in fresh tears. Forgive me, I know Memorial Day is something different, but right now for me remembering is overrated. Just once I’d like to forget.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joy To The World

I'm not sure what to blog about so I’m just going to share what I’ve been thinking's about joy, I've been thinking alot about joy.

Do you have enough joy in your life?

What do you do that brings you joy?

Right now there are days where for the life of me I can’t think of a single thing that would actually bring me joy – not anything realistic anyway. I mean, winning the lottery would be totally amazing, so would a free trip somewhere exotic. Finishing my novel would surely bring me veritable fits of joy – and maybe someday I’ll get there but for now I’m not even close, so that leaves me pretty much back to square one.

No question, being a mom often does bring me great joy (among other things, lol.) My kids can completely delight me on a regular basis just by being themselves. I'd say delight is right on par with joy. Fulfillment, too, is at least a close relation to joy.  Probably my most fulfilling moments in all of my life have been as a mother.

In the last couple of years or so my other moments of fulfillment have mainly come from writing, in one form or another (the slow progress of my novel not withstanding). I do sometimes find the actual practice of writing itself joyful-ish, to a certain degree. But truth be told it’s also equal parts maddening and agonizing depending on the hour. Apparently I’m in excellent company: I recently read that when Virginia Woolf was asked about her love of writing she retorted that she loved having written.

Still, I do get a thrill writing something profound or witty…I've even had the rare experience of writing something that took my own breath away. However, touching another person in any way with my writing is probably the most profound joy outside of motherhood that I’ve ever known. Those moments can be rather few and far between…occurring just often enough to keep me going, but not nearly often enough to keep me "joyed up" for very long.

The last time I remember actually being joyful for reasons beyond motherhood or writing was…well, I don’t remember but it was no doubt probably before cancer. And I’m also guessing it was fleeting. I think I was regularly happy…happy blogging here, about getting my novel underway, about finding more time for poetry…happy in my marriage, with my children (always) and even getting there about myself. Frequently my life achieved a satisfying rhythm that often brought me a certain amount of contentment…but it’s hard to remember now when looking back thru the lens of cancer if I felt much joy before my diagnosis.

But then again, what is joy anyway? How do you describe it? Is it like pornography, indefinable but you know it when you see it?

Would I still know it if I saw it?

For now joy remains elusive. Happiness is not a frequent visitor either. It was two years ago yesterday since finding the damned lumps and I still feel like I’m in the thick of it. Cancer duties linger…there are scans, appointments, maintenance. Michael now has his own set of appointments, scans and research…he’s the one in a holding pattern now. In between I try to reassemble my life. But I feel like components are missing. Pieces of me were taken away with the scalpel that contained more than flesh, tissue and cancerous tumors. I think they contained some of my capacity for joy.

But I'm still looking for it because you never know.  You just never do.  It could be anywhere.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And then...

…six months went by.

How often have you come across a blog that was abandoned and desperately wondered what happened? As someone who frequented cancer related blogs, when ever I would read one that stopped abruptly I would naturally fear the worst.

But the worst has not happened to me. Cancer-wise? So far, basically, so good.

My husband’s health, on the other hand, went south and fast. He has had some serious autoimmune issues. More doctors, research, procedures. And this has thrown me for a loop, perhaps even more so than my own cancer. Like the kind of loop that leaves you upside down and makes you question the very essence of…everything.

In the last six months I've felt at times that there was no goodness left for me in life. I have felt that there was nothing I could say, or write, that wouldn’t ring hollow because I was hollow. And I feared I was emptied beyond refilling.

I kept trying to find that new normal everyone always talked about during surgery and treatment, the one that I thought would inevitably come once it was finally all over. Except that it’s not really over, and in many ways it never will be. Still, I tried to blend that ideal of a new normal with the memory of the old version to create something new for the rest of my life. But I have just been so lost I couldn’t do it. I guess that’s really it – I’ve been profoundly lost. Hopelessly off course beyond finding my way.

So, this is me looking for something familiar, trying to find my way again. Trying, however tentatively, to move forward.

To all those who so lovingly supported me before, if any of you still pass by this way, I’ve missed you, I’ve thought about you and I’m sorry for temporarily abandoning this blog. I never abandoned you, though, not in my heart.