What now?! Choices, please.

I know there are times in the past when I have felt “geez, I can’t take anymore than this” when things were being thrown at me left and right….but, here’s the thing: I always made it through. We can always make it through. How? Just keep moving forward.  People accuse me of having a terrible memory.  But, it’s not that I have a terrible memory really, it’s that I choose not to dwell and I just move forward.  I don’t leave any room in my head for much of that stuff I may have had to climb over to get through to the next day.  People will tell you things all your life, it’s your choice to decide if you feel the same.

I swear I’m not trying to be trite. I really feel this. Each and every day is a new start, a new beginning, a brand-spankin’-new chance to make a choice in the right direction for your life. And, thus, I find myself back in the saddle lately. Trying to make good choices for leading me forward into the next day, week, month….lifetime.

Last week I was diagnosed with melanoma. Cancer. Yep. The Big C. No pink ribbons for me. I’m not a fan of pink anyway, so keep the ribbon, I’ll take choices. Okay, I say to the doctor calmly: “What are my choices?”  This isn’t a time to be emotional or irrational. For me it’s time to put on my thinking cap and learn everything I may not already know about melanoma. What stage am I? What level within that stage? What are the options and which will I choose for my care?

I have Stage II melanoma.  It’s what I like to call “caught earlyish”.  Right there I have something to go forward with, something to base some knowledge upon.  Surgery – Yes.  Already had a nice hole put into my thigh the size of a quarter just to remove the original suspect area.  Now, they will go in and remove a much larger area – gotta get to those icky cells outlying, creeping about, wanting to create mischief with my body, my good cells.  Then there’s the depth-thing.  It was deep enough to warrant a biopsy of the sentinal (the closest) lymph node grouping which will be (oh joy) in my groin.  Ouch.

So, I head for another surgical consult later this week…they don’t want to wait more than a week.  Okay.  I like their style, my doctor-team.   Don’t worry….I’ll be in touch.  After all, I’ve got to make more choices tomorrow.  Don’t we all?


Things in Threes

It’s funny, I come from a fairly superstitious family. That is to say, they are always doing these funny little traditions in reaction to a variety of things. One is knocking over the salt: One is required to toss a bit of it over your left shoulder if this happens. I don’t know why. It didn’t matter, I did it so my Grandmother wouldn’t get upset and worry that it hadn’t been done. Like completing some kind of ritual. Rituals….and beliefs…and superstitions are all so interesting. I am endlessly fascinated at how these have often been built around actual, verifiable occurances due to the flow of humanity and our predictable patterns. However, the superstitions can be woven around real scientifically based patterns and grow their own validity, their own following, their own solid and undenied superstitiously based rituals.

One saying my Grandmother always said was “things happen in threes”. I used to marvel at the fact that sure enough, they would happen in threes. Well, I’m sure if you look for enough things to fulfill that criteria: Anyone can make things happen in threes. But, this doesn’t validate the superstition. What it does is to validate our ability, as humans constantly seeking answers to the unknown, to create situations and outcomes that fit our needs, our beliefs, our “religions”.

And, so I come to the main reason I am writing today. I’ve had a tri-occurence that fit my Grandmother’s definition perfectly. She would say, “if they come in threes, often they balance each other out, not like some say – all bad things. No. They come in threes to balance your world, the world, perceptions and emotions.” I loved and respected my Grandmother very much. She was a wise woman who knew how to fit rituals into reality, scary or frightening things into perspective, and sadness into balance and make them all seem like that was just the way it should be and therefore easier to accept.

My best friend’s Mother died last night. He loved her so much it made his heart ache. She was a wonderful human with many, many tolerances for life having dealt with a tough husband who was gone much of the time working, many children, and a life to run without much time for herself. And, by the time she had some time for herself, her brain became ravaged by that evil monster that takes our thoughts and memories and destroys our ability to recognize those around us who we love. My friend cared for her every whim – and on the days she didn’t recognize him as her son, it didnt matter. He would smile and tease her and give her love and attention. He works a lot. Travels quite a bit for work. This is hard ’cause he took care of her and all her bills, etc. It pained him to see her suffer in any way, but she was strong, even without her memories she fought to keep living and smiling. She died last night. He was not home. He was traveling for work. Driving last night through the thunder and lightening to get back to her, the family, the business that inevitably lies before him I heard the pain and sadness in his voice when we spoke. My friend’s Mother died last night and I am deeply saddened.

Another friend called yesterday. Her best friend’s Mother had gone in for routine surgery and didnt wake up, was on life support, and they were waiting to unplug the machines. This woman practically raised my friend. She was her “other Mother”. As I talked with her she was gathering her children up into the car and heading over to Phoenix, a 6+ hours drive so that she could say goodbye before they shut off the machinery helping her breathe. I was in pain for her, knowing how much she cared for this woman and her daughter, her friend, they were family. She got there 1/2 hour before they unplugged the machines. She was able to say goodbye. For that, I’m very grateful.

Yesterday I received an envelope in the mail. I stared at the return address. Oh, how lovely! I thought, my former client/now friend must be having a birthday for her son perhaps. I casually put the card aside to go through the bills first. Got to get rid of all that before I can enjoy the good stuff. Too much had infiltrated my emotions that day already. I was exhausted with the sadness for my friends and their losses.

So, finally, as I made a cup of tea, I opened the envelope. This client had touched my heart at a time when I was enduring a lot of sadness and loss myself. She came to me with a request for a unique art commission. She had been pregnant after many years of trying and had miscarried at 20+ months a beautiful baby girl. Her sadness was palpable and it touched me deeply as my husband and I had been trying for many years to have a child of our own, unsuccessfully. I created a garden mosaic: A memorial with her beautiful handprints taken by the hospital and her name with flowers, bumble bees, lady bugs, and other garden goodies surrounding the name and handprints. It was an emotional piece and I finished it with a heavy heart and a bit more strength seeing how this lovely couple had gone through so much and stayed strong together. They were afraid to try again as she had suffered other miscarriages early on and it was such a painful proposition. However, I understood the drive to have that baby…I understood it far too well. We struggled for over 6 years before we were blessed beyond measure with our daughter. And, with much more hard work, 4 years later we had a beautiful son. Two children, two blessings.

I opened the envelope. There he was. A beautiful baby boy. Several photos of his soft and round cheeks, his soft body sleeping soundly and peacefully in his parent’s hands, and those feet! Baby feet are fascinating…so tiny, so perfect, all those little toes and soft inner soles yearning to be smooched. My client and her husband had a baby boy. A beautiful, baby boy. I was overjoyed. I was crying tears of joy, my body giving over to the emotional exhaustion of helplessly watching two friends suffer a horrible loss and suddenly having this most amazing, wonderous news to follow it up, to balance it out, to make the world keep spinning – these things yesterday came in three.