Monthly Archives: November 2015

That Was Deep

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Me, as this song comes on the radio: “I used to think this song was so sweet, but it’s actually kind of sad.”

The Girl: “Mom… In happiness, we hear the music. In sadness, we listen to the lyrics.”

 

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MomDay Monday – As I See…

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Just days after Veterans Day, my friend Shannon sent her husband John off into the great unknown that is military deployment. A mom of three, this military life has taken her family around the country to their current life in Virginia. I am beyond grateful that their nationwide tour brought them to my city & into my life. I am beyond sad that their time here ended & they moved on to greater things (MomDay Monday – Goodbye Friends).

We no longer talk every day – a fact made inevitable by life & kids & jobs & homes – although we’re still in touch when we need to be. But through the magic of social media, we still get to see a piece of each other’s lives. Usually it’s the sunny & the shiny things we post. This morning I woke up to this post from Shannon:

“Social media is remarkable:
As I see posts of children and families smiling, playing and enjoying life I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
As I see posts about gun control and our government I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of the American flag waving proudly through the sky I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
Here I sit, with my stomache in knots, struggling to catch my breath at times, and my heart in pieces, I am emotional and powerless because I just sent my husband, an active duty service member of the United States of America off into a troubled world of uncertainty and unpredictability and I wonder do others ever sit back and think what THAT feels like? God bless America and the Sailors who possess the strength to walk across that ships brow into the unknown world to defend and protect Americans, or the Soldiers who stand on the enemies soil prepared to fight in hopes of returning home soon. I could not be more proud of my husband and my family for all the things we muscle through, and I hope that others take a moment and reflect on just a few of the sacrifices made from the military and their families so you can enjoy your freedom and democracy: because I just sent my husband off to defend and protect that.”

I’ve written about my nephew, Dan & his time in the Marines (MomDay Monday – God Speed). But that knot in my stomach that I talked about is from an aunt’s perspective – not from someone who lived with him daily. How much bigger must that knot be when it’s the person you most rely on?

As John deployed last night, Shannon posted this picture with the caption “Goodbyes are not beautiful, but true love certainly is. Stay safe lover!!

John & Shannon

I’m sure she’ll forgive me for stealing her picture.

I couldn’t comment. Couldn’t even “like” it. Once again I watch this family go through a deployment. And this time, it’s from too far away to do anything but pray. Especially in light of everything that’s happened in the world in the past week, I hate that my friend has to go through this.

Like Shannon, I could not be more proud of John. And I could not be more proud of Shannon & her children as they endure yet another round of uncertainty. So as we pray for Paris & Beirut & refugees who have no home, please… add a prayer not only for our military, but for those who just sent their husband off to defend & protect.

MomDay Monday – Pretty in Pink

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It’s over.

It’s finally November & October can go away now. Because as we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Believe me. We’re all aware.

Now before I start my rant, I need to preface this by saying that I am absolutely in love with the absolute love & support I get from my family & friends. I love that my coworker thinks of me when she sees a beautiful pink ribbon pin & gives me one. I love that my favorite Girl Scout Troop Leader writes on my Facebook wall “Happy Support Your Boobs Month!” Or when a former coworker texts me “…shit, I just realized I have to buy a pink shirt and go do a walk or something this month because I know you…”

I love that.

What I don’t love is the hype. Because it’s hype focused on the wrong thing.

I think my final straw was this:

Stupid Pink SwiffersWhat the fuck, Swiffer?

Is this doing anyone any good? Are women getting the diagnostic services they need because Swiffer decided to make money from my disease? Are any of these companies that throw a pretty pink ribbon on their product truly donating the proceeds to breast cancer research?

October won’t let me forget. It was the month I was diagnosed. It was the month I had surgery to remove my tumor. It was the month I spent wishing this nightmare would go away. It’s now the month that I start my annual round of follow ups. Scans, mammograms & oncologists (oh my!).

Yet somehow, October always leaves me feeling like I’m not enough of a survivor. Like I’m a fraud. There are women out there who are still fighting this battle – who will be fighting it for life. Metastatic Breast Cancer is rediagnosed in 30% of the women who had my type of cancer. These women are Lifers. They will fight this cancer that has spread from their breasts to their bones & their lungs & their blood until their battle on this earth is over.

This is the breast cancer we don’t hear about. This is the breast cancer that kills 40,000 women every year. And no amount of pink Swiffers will give these women extra days.

So far, I’m in the 70% who haven’t had their cancer return somewhere else. There are times when I downright forget that I ever had cancer. And then that same useless pink Swiffer in the middle of Wal-Mart reminds me.

I went through my battle. I won’t diminish that. I felt the exhaustion of treatments. I went through days where I wanted to pull the covers up over my head & tell the world to fuck off. And I am a survivor. I always have been.

But there are women who won’t survive. What we need is more education. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t even know that metastatic breast cancer existed. Next October, let’s use the month to educate people about this cancer that will absolutely kill. Let’s put away the pink ribbons & the hanging bras from bridges & find a way to support the women out there who are facing this disease head on. Every day. For the rest of their lives.

 

 

MomDay Monday – HallowTeen

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“He’s 13. He’s too old for trick or treat,” said a coworker.

I kept my mouth shut. I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit that my two – now ages 14 & 11 – still trick or treat. Still plan their costumes out for more than a month. Still have a bunch of their friends over to our neighborhood where they all head out together.

Except for one brief moment when The Girl asked if I thought she was too old to trick or treat this year, there really is no question. I panicked when she asked. “But this night is just about the most fun we have in this neighborhood,” I thought. So the idea that maybe they wouldn’t go this year kind of threw me.

Maybe that’s all it is – our neighborhood. We live on a big wide street with an island in the middle. The crowds are everywhere. People come from other towns to trick or treat in our neighborhood. Part of that is because our town holds trick or treat the Saturday before October 31. This year, when October 31 was actually on a Saturday, I assumed everyone would stay in their own towns & we’d have less of a crowd. I was wrong. We usually end up with about 1,000 people coming to our door. Or more accurately, our porch. No one stays inside waiting for the doorbell to ring. There are just too many people so we all sit on our front porches. Friends & family join me & people stop to pose their kids for pictures under the large archway over my front walk. I hope they’re not too disappointed when they notice me in the background, smiling & toasting their little darling with my skull-shaped wine glass. Often, there is a line down my walkway, under the arch & onto the sidewalk.

Friends on the porch

Friends on the porch

Maybe that’s really all it is. The camaraderie. Not just for the neighbors, but for my kids. Even though I hear complaints about teenagers trick or treating, I love it when they come to my door. Sure the little kids are cute – downright adorable, even. But the teenagers usually make my night.

Some of them are shy – almost as if they feel like they shouldn’t be out doing this – and that’s mostly the girls. But their elaborate make up & outfits are usually amazing. The guys though…. throw on a Scream mask with your jeans & hoodie or your high school football uniform, put your backpack on your front with the zipper open & it’s candy city! Perhaps I’m looking through rose-colored glasses or maybe it’s what’s in my skull-shaped wine glass but these kids are great. They’re funny, polite & they’ll usually stop to tell me about their football team or pose for a picture if I ask.

Nightmare fuel

Nightmare fuel

Maybe it’s part preservation. Don’t be grumpy to the teenagers when they come to the door & there’s less of a chance I’ll wake up to toilet paper covering my house. Maybe it’s that I hope my neighbors are being nice to the crowd I sent out. Whatever it is, I enjoy their presence. I think teenagers are fascinating people. They’re old enough to have well thought out opinions, their humor is starting to be more sophisticated & their world view is getting larger. I know there are many who feel like my coworker. That there’s an age limit on trick or treat but I disagree.

As long as I’m sitting on this front porch, there will be candy for anyone who wants it. Sometimes I’ll even give them a few extra. They’re still growing & let’s face it – it takes about 30 of those mini Snickers to make a full size bar. Who knows. Maybe next year is the year The Girl decides she’s not going. But as long as this crowd is still with her, I bet she’ll be out there.

The gang

The gang