Friday, July 31, 2009

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual... or maybe, in a way, it isn't at all. But either way it has been banging around in my head for awhile trying to get out, so here goes...

Awhile ago I set out on a quest through young adult literature looking for books to share with the son of one of my dearest friends. This young man is 14 years old, I just love him to pieces, his life has been difficult, to say the least, and I wanted a way to connect with him more and maybe provide guidance of a sort. Books have always held unexpected answers for me as well as providing me with an escape from my reality, so it was books that I turned to for this wonderful young man. My journey is ongoing and I have come across some books that I think will be great for my friend's son, what I didn't expect to find, however, was a book that held some pieces of myself, of one of my former selves. I wasn't looking for answers for myself, and I'm not sure that that is what I inadvertently found, but this book that fell into my life (twice in one week, in fact) did hold something that I didn't know I was missing. I don't have a name for what I found, but I am glad that I found it.

The book that held all these unexpected piece of myself is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Many of you are probably familiar with this book, but for some reason I was not. And Speak has been sitting in my room (and a second copy downstairs... I have two somehow) for a couple of weeks staring at me, literally as the cover has eyes on it, and demanding that I say something about it.

Speak tells the story of Melinda who experienced a trauma over the summer and as she enters high school, as a freshman outcast with no friends, she slowly becomes selectively mute. As the story unfolds we first suspect and later have confirmed just what her trauma was, why she has become an outcast, why she chooses not to speak, and then, ultimately, why and how she finds the strength to find her voice. It is beautifully written, I cried though much of it and then rejoiced with Melinda as she started to piece her life back together. There are many things about Melinda that I do not really identify with, but there are some other things that scream out from my past through her. This book probably holds, at least in some small way, pieces of all of us, but I needed Melinda. She, somehow, cracked open old wounds and helped heal them both at the same time. And all this came when I wasn't looking for it, when I didn't expect it... strange how that sometimes works isn't it?

And so there you have it, not really my typical post but Melinda is appeased and has stopped knocking around in my skull. If you read, or have read, Speak I hope that you come away with a little something, I think it would be hard not to. There are many things in the world these days that could make us want to hide and not speak, but even on the rainiest day, there are also things and people who give us the courage to stop hiding and find our voices.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

5 years and 9

The past few weeks have been busy and full of all kinds of summertime happenings. My youngest sister, Amy, was here for a couple of weeks with her son, Isaac, and her husband, David. They were here over the 4th, which is a celebration all on it's own, but which also happens to be Isaac's birthday. He turned 1 this year and I was so happy that I could be there for that! While my sister was here we also did a lot of picking up and sorting items for the huge garage sale we are planning for the end of next month to help raise funds for Amy and David to adopt their children from Ethiopia. But most notably, for me at least, in the past couple of weeks was Kylynn's 5th birthday. It's so hard to believe sometimes that my baby is five. She's growing up so fast! She has gone from an adorable tiny baby to a little lady seemingly overnight. I am so proud of all the things that Kylynn has accomplished in the past five years. She amazes me everyday. Some of the things she says are so insightful and beyond her years, other things she says are just downright funny. She is a wonderful little girl and I am so blessed to have her.

Kylynn turning five also makes me think back to how little she was when I was first diagnosed, she was just a year and a half old. Too little to understand what was going on but old enough to sense the change and feel the worry. Back then I would alternate, in my mind, between whether it would be better if I died before Kylynn was old enough to really remember me and worry that if I died, Kylynn wouldn't remember me. But here we are, three and a half years later, and now I worry about what my death would do to Kylynn because she is definitely old enough that she would remember me. I don't really fear death, but I am terrified of leaving my sweet Aria.

Another very notable event in my life recently is my 9th wedding anniversary. Nine years, wow! When Eric and I started our life together I know that neither one of us ever thought that it would take the twists that it has. I remember our first crappy apartment and me starting my teaching career. I remember being pregnant with Kylynn and how excited we both were. And then we closed on our first house and Kylynn was born 6 days later, that was a wild time! Eric and I have had some wonderful memories over the past years and more than our share of difficulties. It hasn't always been easy, but here we are still together. When we said, "In sickness or in health" when we were 23 we had no idea that it would be put to the test when we were only 29. It's rough, very rough sometimes, but we're making our way through it together.

Even on the rainiest day there will be sweet and wonderful milestones to celebrate, and sometimes I think they are made sweeter and more wonderful because of the rain.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Good: I was up at Mayo having a bunch of tests done and meeting with my oncologist a couple of weeks ago and things are looking good! Well, things are looking stable but to me, that is good. My liver is healing from the surgery, the are no signs of new tumors in my liver right now, the tumors in my lungs haven't grown radically in the past six weeks that I have been off of the chemo, in fact, the look to be mostly about the same size that they were on my last visit, I have been cleared to start my chemo again, and I don't have to return to Mayo for a check-up for about 3 MONTHS! Yea!!! Three months may not seem like long, but to me it is a long time and the rest of my summer is Mayo-free!

The Bad: I still have cancer. Blah. And so do so many, many others. Double blah.

The Perplexing: I have been thinking lately about how, so often, people, friends, will tell me about some trouble in their life, some sorrow that they are experiencing and then feel the need to follow it with something like, “But it's really nothing compared to what you're going through.” or “But don't worry about me, you have enough to deal with.” WHAT?! Truly people, it drives me banana sandwiches when you do this to me. Sorrow is sorrow, end of story. There is no comparing sorrows and judging that one is harder to endure than another. Big or little, lasting or short term, every sorrow is valid and hurts just as much as anyone else's sorrow. And just because I have some sorrows of mine own doesn't render me incapable of listening to or trying to help with someone else's sorrow. In fact, it hurts my feelings a little bit when people assume that, because of the events in my life that, I would feel that it would be a bother to hear their troubles. Quite the opposite is true. I want to listen, I want to help if I can. Sorrow is sorrow. So many of you have helped me carry my burdens, please let me help you with yours as well.

Troubles are everywhere it would seem but, even on the rainiest day, there are still joys to share and friends who will help us through our sorrows even if they have sorrows of their own.