Sunday, June 24, 2007

The "It" Factor

I often wonder why it is not until we are forced to stare death in the face that we learn how to live. I wonder what it is going to take and yet can’t take anymore. I faced death many times before I was forced to face my own. It came in the form of losing grandparents, as well as other elders in my family. As difficult as that was it was still the natural order of things. It was just how the universe worked. Those older than you were expected to go first.

At 25 I never expected to become a widow. My husband was only 26 and his life reached an abrupt end. His was the most difficult death I had to face until I faced the possiblity of my own 7 years later. I often wondered why he was taken away so soon. I lived with many regrets. Regrets that ate away at my heart. All of the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s played in my head like a daily rant. Wishing I told him I loved him that morning, wishing we didnt have that little tiff before he left the house, and the worst of all wishing that I enjoyed him more. Why couldn’t I just live in the moment? Why couldn’t I just breathe, just breathe him in. I spent many years believing that I didn’t deserve him, that he was too good for me, like I was living a dream in finding such an amazing love.

It took a long time to accept things as how they were and to stop living with regret for the unsaid, the undone, the unlived life I had. The one I created for myself. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years later it was like a bomb was dropped on me. I was forced to face my own death. It was a lesson slapping me right across the jaw. I believe that lessons come in many forms and they will keep coming up until we get “it”. I have yet to figure out what that “it” is.

I am a work in progress. But aren’t we all? Some lessons I don’t want to have to revisit so dam often! Some lessons are too hard to face again. I have the awareness but I am still searching for the “it”.

As a cancer survivor nothing seems simple anymore. A simple cold becomes a huge monster. One that you are afraid is going to kill you. Every ache or pain is frightening. I need to realize that I am the same as all of the fish in the water now. All of us are in danger of anything happening at any time. For my husband it was a car coming toward him from out of sight. But I had cancer and I am still alive. Everyday I walk out of the house I dont know what is going to happen. And that should be the excitement of the day and not the fear in it. I now try to look at it as the excitement. The moments to be lived, to be cherished, and to hold on to. Moments alone or with those we love.

In NYC the other day I spent some time sitting in the park watching the children play. I listened to their contageous giggles, watched their hair blowing in the breeze almost as free as the smiles on their faces. I wondered what they were thinking. I longed to feel that free. In a child’s eyes I think I found the “it”. I just havent figured out how to get it back……

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Should've Known

I should’ve known he was a jerk the day we met. But there I was, a widow, out there in the world of online dating trying to get my sea legs. I knew him from high school, not well mind you but I looked for any connection that would tell me he was “the one”. What I didn’t tell him was that I had breast cancer.

You see, on the outside you couldn’t tell. I still had my boob, still had my hair. I didn’t yet look like a sick person. I spent my 32nd birthday with him that summer as I waded through a sea of MRI’s, blood tests, and biopsies.

What could’ve been my last birthday was certainly not memorable. We went out to dinner where HE wanted to go, talked about what was important to HIM, as I sat there wondering what the hell I was doing with him. My luke warm feelings for him were quite the understatement. But as I faced my own mortality I was feeling luke warm about most everything that summer. I couldn’t even justify it by saying I was in lust with him. Nope, no physical attraction there on my part. Then what? The only thing I can come up with was fearing nobody would want me when I lost a boob, nobody would want someone with breast cancer. If I get him to like me enough when I break the news to him maybe he won’t leave.

But Paul should be the one to take care of me I thought to myself. This was worse than sloppy seconds. This was nothing. Nothing I was trying with all my heart to make into something.