Friday, October 28, 2011

the light of day

yesterday is past
today I can handle the light of day
I have a passion for the Science Channel shows
about the Universe
I understand about 1% of what is said
and pretty much forget 100% of that
and refuse to give the lame chemo brain excuse on that one

still, I love being blown away by the facts of science
the enormity of creation
the enjoyment absolutely enhanced by a wider flatter screen
and excellent custom (thank you, Gary) sound system
for the past less-than-a-year

I sit up very straight when I hear the size of things
the vastness
the exactness
the randomness
the beautiessness and I refuse to correct that word despite
the red squiggly line underneath

so, today, after being cloistered for a day
unable to handle noise or light or daily life
I head out into the light of day
a little lighter myself
remembering how I used to sing
every morning for my boys
every morning
in the light of day

here I come, sun
face to face, you and me

Thursday, October 27, 2011

why isn't it pretty?

sleeping last night was rough
at one point I almost got up in the middle of the night
to erase delete eradicate disintegrate vaporize and generally
wipe out of existence

my previous blog

it isn't pretty
there is no poetry there
to write it so incomplete is to protect individuals
to not write it was to attempt to hide from
the serious reality that is mine right now
and that felt dishonest to me and avoiding
the very essence for even
writing at all

I want life to be loving romantic and memorable
it isn't always as pretty as I want it to be, is it

I want my sons to know from me that whatever comes
our way
we can work with it, through it, around it if we have to,
not running away
yet wise enough to protect ourselves when necessary
we will each approach situations with our uniqueness
our personalities, characters and perspectives
bringing all of ourselves, heart & mind, to the table
and learn a lot from each other in the process

I want to tell stories perhaps that I have polished a bit
sanding off the rough edges so that I feel more comfortable
and we look more "presentable"...
I want Love and Humor to prevail, to be the ultimate destination
yet the road to get there might have detours
of Pain and Sadness

the other day I realized that more people were reading this blog than
I knew
that moved me and it also caused me to pause and feel self-conscious a bit
time is precious
reading this, so many words, takes time
I want to give something worthy

well, it will not always be pretty
all I can do is my best
as humble and messy as my efforts may be at times...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the process of forgiveness

this past Sunday
Brandon came over, an invitation from me
there was a letter waiting (for a week) on the table for him
addressed here at my request so that we could read it
if he wanted to

we knew it was an apology
we opened it together.
a week before
he told me that he would "open it with an open heart"
and he did...

Brandon asked me to read it for us since cursive writing
is challenging sometimes
so I read it out loud for the two of us

it was a very important letter
a little over a year after a very damaging one had come into his life
and took much from him
at a fragile, generous life-changing time for him already

I am writing this with a massive headache
the kind that comes for me after I have had a very hard
cry last night
again a significant one
laced with painful memories
and another apology, sincere, heartfelt and received,
this one for me
I am stretched today, wishing I could simply sleep peacefully
but that is not to be
my whole system and world has been twisted up
and I am trying to find my balance

returning to Brandon
he received what was written as best he could
after a year of making adjustments in his own mind and heart
feeling deep grief, loss, and some honorable anger
having to watch his Mom, me, suffer
added much to his painful experience

I had a number of days to contemplate, to try to prepare myself
to be there for him
and for us, as an example of how to receive a person's apology
to really accept sincerity and to process it into
our beings
we can never control what anyone throws at us
yet we can control our response
and in a deep way, that defines us
not to others so much as to ourselves

we talked for quite a long time in the kitchen, just the two of us
and I saw forgiveness in a new light that day
it is not a "forgive and forget" mindset for me
we will never forget what has transpired in the past three years
and there is a lot more to be processed for a safe peace of mind
to be there for us
being wounded emotionally parallels being physically hurt
Brandon's way is to go through the pain and move forward
not live backwards. entrenched in drama
it is way of self-preservation and making the decision
to invest his heart forward
this is not a very good explanation of his thinking
but I am trying because I was wanting to listen to him
help him, learn from him, and try to figure out my own path with
I tried my best to model for him what a person can do and be
in this situation
how to make a positive outcome through our thinking and responses

it does take time
for me
it is not a word or a phrase or sentiments on paper
those things are the beginning but not the completion of forgiveness
trust must be restored and that takes time and more experiences
I am grateful for beginnings
Life, my life, would have been sad for the loss, so very sad.
now, our whole family needs to learn how to re-learn
what are the foundations upon which to build
truly loving compassionate tolerant patient kind positive healthy relationships

I could come up with infinite words
to describe what I believe is possible between people
in this second life of mine
I invite anyone from my first life
who is willing to live heart-to-heart

last night, while I was on the phone crying as we worked through
a lot of pain on the path to "I forgive you" and "welcome home"
my Bryan and his sweetheart Olivia were having a nice evening here
celebrating their two-month Anniversary of dating each other
when I gently hung up the phone
I went downstairs with my red puffy eyes, Einstein hair, and quiet heart
to make a late dinner for them
(Bryan was going to make it, but they accepted my offer!)

we talked about the simple menu and I got the food cooking
and two pretty candles on the table
set things up in a cozy autumn way
and they loved it
as I walked up the stairs listening to their young happy voices
the love of youth, the love of loving, made me so happy
and they wanted to be close to me
to home
to celebrate
as they learn about the beauty of blossoming hearts

I thought about Brandon so happy to be bringing
a purple scarf I knitted for his sweetie
to give to her as a gift
a simple symbol
and I think it is all that simple really
the "I am so sorry" experiences are woven into the fabric
of the "I love you so much" treasured moments
and the preciousness of life is understood and protected

Thursday, October 13, 2011

in the wind

yesterday in the morning
my hair started to fall out
and I watched as it gathered at the drain
and then came out in the hair brush

my chemo treatment was at noon
so I decided that I was having a hard time
and needed to talk with someone
went to Missouri Cancer center
much earlier
hoping that my therapist friend Denise would
be there
but she was out for the day
I forgot that

my friend Carla who works at the front desk there
had a present for me from her son
13-year old Cameron
a ten year plus cancer survivor
who is dealing with mono right now

Cameron sent me a beautiful stone with the word
engraved into it
I was so moved
so smooth
and so helpful on a tough day...

I went outside and thought of calling Brandon
his house is not far from the cancer center
he was home
but busy
just hearing his voice helped
and my voice shook and cracked and gave way
I did not want to feel sorry for myself
or ask anyone to feel sorry for me

Brandon called me right back and said
"Mom, how about if Mahdi and I come over tonight?
I really want to be there for you...
we could come around 8:15 and stay for about an hour..."
and that became my focus

I went to Wal-Mart to get a thank you card for Cameron
and found a tiny little alphabet stamp set for $.97
and a miniature ink pad, brown, for $.97
so I went to the beautiful park across from the center
it is called Stephens Lake Park

the wind was blowing and the autumn leaves
were whirling and dancing
as I walked towards a picnic table and bench
I decided that if my hair was coming out
I might as well take it out and let it blow in the
with the leaves
into the water
by the old trees
there I was literally
pulling my hair out
what an odd sight
if anyone noticed

I was not angry or sad
I felt in charge
and significantly better than letting my hair
go down the darn drain in the bathroom
it was liberating and bordered on ceremonious
as if I was spreading my own ashes in nature
alone but not lonely
sick but very much alive
choosing to make something positive
out of a negative
and claiming my place at a picnic table
with leaves all over it

taking out my new miniature stamping supplies
I enjoyed decorating a card
for my young friend
a friend I have yet to meet in person...

the time came closer to go for treatment
and one of the ladies from the pharmacy at the center
saw me at the table and we chatted for a few minutes
time for reality-facing
a beautiful gold leaf took a fluttering trip
and descended right into Cameron's card before I sealed
the envelope
so it stayed there

I saw my doctor and he liked my hair in the wind story
and he said I was doing very well
and was in a "groove"
and that made me laugh
because it sounded good
and I needed to hear something different
than my own concerns right then

all the needles and prodding and stuff was done
a kind man who was with his wife for her treatment
brought a warm blanket for me on the way to
bringing one for her
how kind of them

someone came over to chat with me
and before I knew it
I was ready to be released

I collapsed when I got home
Bryan and Olivia came in and I just said Hi
and collapsed on another surface somewhere

Brandon and Mahdi came
I was so happy to see them
Brandon was taking care of me
and wanted his girlfriend to be part
of that experience together
I picked up a soft plush purply throw (blanket)
for her
it was her Birthday earlier this week
and she loves purple so purple it was
the boys and I have always had blankets
for TV and movie watching
so Mahdi needed to have one too

well, I still have some hair
and being with them
just made me feel energized
let's play ping-pong how about it?

we had such a fun time
laughed a lot
played all different combinations
of doubles
Mahdi was a beginner who learns super quickly
being a college tennis player for two years
who knew you could use a two-handed backhand
with that little tiny paddle?

they stayed until 10 pm
and then I started a purple scarf for Mahdi
with the yarn she chose from a basket full
of purply options

the wind blows
when you run your fingers through your hair
on a blustery day
salute your moment
in the sun

Monday, October 10, 2011


for well over a month we did not have tv
and even though I am the big Voice of the dangers
of too much tube and screen-in-general exposure
I missed it and admitted it
even though I was teased (a fair amount)

so I found that watching things on HULU
gave me the small screen fix of escape that helped me
I might have mentioned it already
can't remember

first, it was the old Sherlock Holmes series
with the leads played by humorous types in the BBC tradition
it felt like...
when that was over
I looked around for another "series" type show
and accidentally came upon "Jewel in the Palace"
created in Korea with English subtitles
it was apparently a huge success in Korea
historical fiction
I found myself riveted to the characters
and it was very cathartic to cry and laugh
struggling through the complexities
of trying to keep people and positions
in order

the drama
the humorous couple
the palace intrigue
and mostly the pure humanity of individuals
going through life's issues
with universal touches of understanding
pain and hope
themes of good and evil
love and loss
cheering on the great good people
helplessly observing with sadness
when selfishness and greed won certain battles of will...

at one point, since so much of the story revolves around
cooking in the Palace kitchen
I found myself craving Korean food
so I went to a small Korean restaurant here in town
and had lunch alone
when I complimented the cook
for the delicious as well as healing food,
I glanced at the business cards on the counter
and noticed the owner's name: Gloria Shim

I enjoyed the connection even more when she came out to meet me
she told me that her mother was dealing with cancer
and gave me ideas about good foods from her point of view
and experience.
when I mentioned the Jewel in the Palace,
she looked at me and said
"make sure you go outside and don't watch too much TV (!)"...
and I laughed thinking how much my kids and husband
would laugh at me getting scolded
for what I have been known to give them a hard time with!

there were so many scenes that have stayed with me
and one stands out at this moment

there was a wonderful elder character named Lady Jung
who was named as the Highest Kitchen Lady
as more of a political ploy to use her as a puppet figure
but instead
she ended up being a hugely significant person
a flashback scene showed her
with a group of little girls sitting at her feet
as she sang story songs to them
songs of tradition in a marvelous warbly powerful Voice
of tradition and history and enchantment
the faces of the little girl listeners
were so precious
they loved her as a grandmother
they were all orphans in a way
since leaving their own families behind
or losing their families in other ways

this woman sitting and singing made me cry and cry
she somehow personified the person I wish I could
that I could find a song and story worth singing
and telling
the spirit of a grand mother
the tradition of storyteller
reflecting on that in such a personal way

Thursday, October 6, 2011

facing it

looking at the reports of the death of Steve Jobs
from pancreatic cancer
made me face something I have needed to face
the last few weeks have been tough
have I not faced that before

looking at the skinny self of a man driven
with creative passion
on a stage
the world stage
listening to his words
at a commencement ceremony
at a university
speaking fearlessly
about the freedom he knew
from facing his imminent death
and letting all pretense fall away
was to witness a powerfully free human being

he walked on his stage talking of his liver transplant
having received the liver of a young person who died
in a car accident
fighting on
creating on
I just felt so moved
and so sad
and so not wanting to wallow in my own

so, no matter what the course
I am still here and able to see the sun shining
the leaves falling
another day

I have felt guilty not to be up to the tasks
before me
letting things slip through
not even having the energy to reflect here
in words
not wanting to play games with myself
in terms of hiding what I was really experiencing
not wanting to exaggerate it either
facing it squarely
and resting when it was too much

with his billions
Steve Jobs could not buy one more day
he was a year younger than I am
his life affected countless people alive today
and his life and his genius ripple into the future

each one of us has an eternal ripple to make
I have so deeply believed that my whole life
it is an honor to have met so many people
and more to come
complaint is not my favored state of mind and being
acceptance has been my goal when
my physical situation has pushed me into
places that are hard to embrace
as being part of my way

it has always helped me to look at and learn from
the example of others
and see my teachers all around me
when my eyes are focused
when my heart is open
and when my attention is outside of my self

last week I took my second round of the new chemo
it is the equivalent of two tablespoons or less
how could so little cause so much
may it do what it is intended to do
that is my meditation as I allow it to go into
my veins and do the job / fight the fight
I know now why this week I needed to have it off

last week Gary's Uncle Don collapsed
and had to have an emergency operation
to relieve blood clots forming in the brain
and had the operation here in Columbia
we have been able to be with him
and he has just been transferred to a nursing home
out of town....

at one point when I went to visit him alone in the hospital
we were communicating in our way
and I asked him what happened when he fell
fully knowing that his dementia might not
even allow him to remember the event at all
he looked into the air and said:
"When I was a little boy,
we would go outside and fly kites.
They would be up in the air,
and then if there was a big wind, like a storm,
the kites would get caught in the wind
and come crashing to the ground.
It was like that..."
and I sat beside him, amazed at the clarity
of the analogy

his story made me think about storms and getting up
after getting slapped down.
once again
a teacher before me
as he laughed at the next moment
with two big holes in his skull
with zipper stitches
and hair sticking up
and life hanging on

so I look at the mirror of now
and ask myself to please get on with the
new day
in a new way
facing it