Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bright Sides

"Look on the Bright Side"

I am sure I have said the phrase a million and one times.  I am certain I have heard it a million and two times.  It is sometimes said without thinking.  It is in our repertoire of things we say when words fail us. It is an easy thing to say but a hard task to accomplish in most instances.  It is okay to feel sad and afraid because sometimes horrible things happen.   But the gift of time often allows for healing, understanding, and acceptance of any bad situation. 

Sometimes there is no "Bright Side".  Sometimes both sides of a penny are dark and gloomy.  It is not always possible to happy about the fact your child has relapsed AGAIN, and the odds are similar to the odds of winning the Power Ball.  I know there are times when news hits me in the gut so hard, I can not breathe.  I am shocked in a time in my life I don't think I can be shocked by anything.  It is so hard sometimes to ramp myself up to see a friend, or break some news to the family or worse yet, to your child.  
I am not talking about our family.  Things are going great right now.  Mary-E is cooking along and will graduate after only four years of schooling.  She will do so being ever so close to graduating with honors.   She is ready to take on the world in one way or another.  
But day after day, week after week, I am holding my breath, knowing this will never be a solid state of being.  Many say to me "Look on the Brightside." "Don't dwell on what could happen."  "Don't be pessimistic."   While knowing each day could bring new cancer or a new side effect is not being pessimistic. A bit of well-placed pessimism is simply my reality. It is just that little niggling voice sitting on my shoulder reminding me to value and enjoy every day.  It lets me forgive myself for my many imperfections, my never organized house, piles of self-reproducing laundry,  my endless to-do list.   
It makes me try harder to do things that make a difference in people's lives. It makes me balance what I want.  I want to spend time with people that make my life richer and more interesting.  My house is not perfect, but six people are coming for dinner. The lamb is a bit spicy but then why did God make sour cream? 
The bright sides of my penny bring me back to this moment in time. This is where I stay, knowing the penny, no matter how dark, is still a work in process.  There is a good chance it there will shine on both sides.  

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Sorting Chrismas over the

I think we have more than enough.  Let us all be honest, I have always been a Christmas freak.  I love things that are different, unusual and not ordinary.  Over the years, especially during the Cancer Years, there has been neither money or time availability to go and seek out new things.  We have had to have small trees, fake trees, dog and cat and kid proof trees.  We have not had everything out in a very very long time.

This year we are taking the time and going through everything.  There were years we did not take down Christmas and things were packed in different boxes and they were missing their buddies.  There were probably  20  "Christmas" boxes.  To be a Christmas box all you have to do is have one such item in your hollow space and you are thusly marked.  I have done some boxes over the years, and the labels don't make any sense anymore. 

I am surprised at the memories invoked by the ornaments.  Only one from my childhood remains. Several given to me by family and friends over the years. Some from my Teaching years, Thank-you again, James, John and Judy.  Some to Mary-E. Some to me.  Some from me to Mary-Elizabeth. Some from Mary-E to me.  

It is a strange power a piece of glittery glass or a piece of colored and glued paper can hold.  Each contains the spirit of Christmas past and the power to carry those spirits forward.   I have come to realize how powerful those memories can be.  Some from BC (before cancer) some AC.  It seems mind boggling.  A Santa, a small ugly scary as hell Nutcracker head, a beautiful tree, a small old little girl.  It is all good.  

Like all things, it is worth spending a few moments with them.  Pondering if they will remain part of the regular line-up or be sent away for someone else to enjoy.  There will definitely be fewer boxes.  I do know it has been a good exercise to pull them all out.  All of them.  I have found very few duplications. Only filler ornaments, placeholders, space fillers but basically, they are unique, special and filled with great power. 

Back to work. Nine boxes filled, inventoried and numbered.  Two are Mary-E's for her new home next year.  It is all good. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015


As Mom would say.... is like a Rocking Chair, it never gets you anywhere. 

It is so built into my being now.  I have seen too much not to worry.  I know I can soon tuck the worry away but it just is sitting on my shoulders. I pound it down with a box of donuts but it creeps back.  Looking for a new way to manage it but I think I have to come to realize it will always be there and be more accepting and forgiving.  Sort of like Pope Frances suggested as a good theme for the year.  

I worry.  It sucks.  I have a lot to worry about given what has happened.  Time to acknowledge it is there and let it sit
on a shelf like that stupid Elf-on-The Shelf.  I will let the Elf record the worry and report to some cosmic being that is taking care of things.  I have to let it go and begin moving forward instead of waiting for the next shoe to drop.  

Next shoe? You ask.  Hasn't it already dropped like a big bomb over ancient and unreplaceable town centers?  Oh, you must think there are only two shoes.   Once you enter Cancer World, one discovers our monster is a long caterpillar with many many legs and matching shoes. 
Time has come.  Maybe that is my New Year's Resolution.  I will put Worry away. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas. Sometimes it is hard even if things are alright in your world.

Cancer is such a horrible thing.  Many ask why I don't just leave well enough alone.  How do you do that when people you have met, and some you never meet, have a child that is dying because they have run out of options.  Parents are making decisions to halt treatment.  Parents with children already gone.  Parents that know they will soon have to make decisions they don't want to make.  

I don't seem to be able just to walk away. Too many children and families are affected.  Not millions, but even one is too many.

This is one of those years that things are great.  Okay, so the dish fairies took a day off, the laundry is waiting. There are a million things to do but in shifting priorities to "Essential,"  other things have been accomplished.  Star Wars has been viewed.  Presents opened and appreciated.  Sharing an excellent dinner with friends and family.  Calls to and from people you love and enjoy.  
Dishes can wait, boxes can be cut down and recycled, laundry mountains are a thing of art.  

I am taking a moment to make sure the coffee is good, the house is warm, and  the dogs get a good walk.  The kidlet has the rest she needs.  

I also have to figure out when I am going to see
Star Wars, again. 

Friday, December 04, 2015

Christmas Card Dilemma

Perfect Cards
Perfect Stamps
Perfect Return Address Lables

No Idea what to Write!

I have tried several things over the last couple of months, and I can't write it.  As I look over the last year I don't see much to report.  No massive events. No significant problems solved.  Losses of several family members are a drag in a Christmas Card.  I hate those long whiny letters.  Maybe I should write a haiku.  

Year has passed quick-

ly. No real news, hope remains

For a great New Year.

That might work.  

Or my other thought:

A Picture is better than a thousand words. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's Tonsillitis, Mono, Strep or Mumps

But my reaction to this simple sore throat is not reasonable.  Just taking her to Urgent Care and then to pick up meds made me very very grumpy.  

She is currently in bed with a very sore throat, a fever and no desire to move. It will be fine.  I will make a quick trip over the mountains and through the woods but it will be fine.  She is having her first real nasty bug since being released from her transplant docs.  Her immune system is less than that of a 4-year-old.  She is now considered "fully vaccinated" but we don't know if she has titers to the vaccines.  Yeah, did you know they can run a simple blood test and let you know if you need a booster?  One of many secret tests we learned about during the last 11 years.  
What I have learned from this experience is that my "okayness" is veiled behind a thin sheet of wet tissue paper.  All of the fear, anxiety, irrational worry and the rest is held back by a few atoms spinning around a few molecules and fibers.  

The question will be, how long before I am able to bounce back.  How long does this gripping fear last?

Hoping it goes before the last turkey sandwich. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cancer World Christmas

So before I begin, let's remember this entire post is from only my experience.  I don't have any significant experience with other hospitals. Also, I love Christmas more than anyone. 

What I love about Christmas is finding the perfect gift.  I have never been one to set a certain price or a certain number of gifts. It just has to be one perfect gift. It has to be thoughtful, and the
person has to know it was not random or obligatory.  Because of those rules, I sort of shy away from the tremendous gift giving to kids with cancer at this time of the year.  They are doing just fine. Lots and lots of people step up, and the kids have a great Christmas for the most part.  We all know it sucks and is hard but at Seattle Children's, nary a child is forgotten.  

So, The Wishing Rock Project is not going to do anything for the children.  We are going to continue to be there to support the Moms.  We are going to continue to visit the hospital, seek out new families and try our best to visit as much as we can.  Deliver as many Starbucks Cards, reusable bags, windchimes, and beads of endurance and, of course, some chocolate.  
We think this is a good idea because as soon as Christmas is over, Cancer is still there.  Moments of forgetting are real and necessary but having the strength to keep going is also a requirement. 

Please. after all the Holiday Season chaos is over, remember Cancer World is still there.