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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Too Close for Comfort

For as long as I can remember, I was that girl that would look into the windows of houses as we drove by or to the cars alongside us on the road and wonder, what was really going on in their lives?  I always wondered what celebrations, acts of everyday life or awful truths were going on behind those windows and doors.  I knew better than to assume that the grass was greener.  And I have always tried not to use the phrase, "must be nice".  Because you just never know.

Lately, I wish I wasn't that girl.  I sit in our living room or pass our window and can see the house across the street, our good friends house, and my stomach flips a bit and I have to fight the tears that are at the surface.  I know all to well what is happening behind those windows and doors.  Heartache.   

I was in the shower and my thoughts wandered to our friends and their family.  In particular, their sister.  I thought about her in her hospital bed and all at once I couldn't hold back the tears.  I wondered what she must be thinking and how badly she must wish she could wake from this nightmare and return home to her children.  Her four children.  The youngest, nine.  My Ethan is nine.  I couldn't imagine leaving him behind or bare the thought of someone telling him that I did.  I can't imagine that for any of my children.  But having the similarities in age hit too close to my heart and it was breaking for those children and their mother.

I am not close with her though we've spoke several times.  And shortly after I met our neighbors, they told me that I reminded them of their sister; certain characteristics anyhow.  I know her children better, especially the youngest.  There is some distance, but clearly not enough because this hurts, for several reasons.  One of them being the feeling of helplessness. 

What makes this so hard (for me...and this isn't meant to be about me) is that this is a story I can't skip over or an article I can't ignore.  It's a familiar scene that gets played out in the movies, except it's a movie I would most likely never buy a ticket to because even watching it is painful.  I wish she could swing her legs out of bed when the sad scene was over, call for a Manhattan to drink and her stage make-up to be wiped off.  I know what the reality is.  This is a book I would never choose to read either.

I'm not close enough to help in a big enough way, yet I am not far enough away not to feel some of their pain.  I know too much and it seems inappropriate to be this sad.  The sadness isn't for me, entirely.  I understand that some of this comes from past losses that I am sure I held back for.  So much of it is for the pain that I know everyone is feeling. I have the same thoughts, concerns and worries that I am sure they do as well.  There is a common pain.  More common than it should be.

So tonight, I went in and kissed each one of my children while they lay sleeping in their beds, again, because I could.  My life meant little to me before I had children.  I understand my importance in their lives and I try not to take that for granted.  I don't know what God's intentions are in this situation.  I don't understand why four children may have to be motherless sooner than anyone ever should.  I want to believe what my best friend says about God having a better plan. She should know, she lost her mother more than 9 years ago.  I want to believe that there is a better place.  But I worry that the children won't understand this.  And even if they do, I can't help but think of the awful sadness in their poor little hearts. I wish I could take this from them. 

I know that their mother will be alright.  I imagine these past months, actually year, have been more difficult than any of us could imagine.  In time, things will get easier as everyone learns to navigate the loss. The sadness will come in waves.  Slowly, life will return to a different kind of normal.  For now, there is great discomfort and we are reminded how precious and fragile life is all at once. 

I will continue to hold firm in my faith and pray for what ever God thinks is best.  Clearly this is a book I am not allowed to close without finishing.  I am sure there is a reason for that.  I will be there for my friends. Right now, I am going to go and kiss my sleeping children once more....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Helpless In the Wake of a Thief

Cancer. The word makes me cringe. Makes me angry. I can't bake it away. Can't joke it way. Clean it away. Talk it away. I can't take it away. I can't do anything. I can't fix this. I can't fix the hearts it breaks or the many tears it makes. I HATE cancer. It is by far the biggest thief I have ever heard of or known.

Where there were happy conversations with ease, it sneaks up and makes for hard talks and quivering voices holding back tears. It ends conversations. It ends relationships. It robs Children of their Mothers and Fathers and Mothers and Fathers of their Children. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Friends and Beloved Pets. You name it. Cancer takes it. And it doesn't do it with compassion either.

I hate cancer. I hate that my best friend should have been celebrating the joy of her first pregnancy but was blind-sided by the news that her mother had ovarian cancer. And that I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter because it was the year I thought I would loose my Aunt and Godmother. She survived to meet my Emily. But I can remember how long a very close friend's mother has been gone, taken from us by cancer, because Emily was two weeks old when we attended her funeral. When I called to announce to my Aunt (the survivor) that I was pregnant again, she was dying and gone the next day. I was six months pregnant when I delivered her eulogy.I remember how long my best friend has been without her mother because my son was born days after I attended her funeral. It was our third child's first birthday when we heard that another wonderful Aunt had passed away. From cancer.

I remember the only tears I ever witnessed my Gram shed. They were for the loss of her daughter. Cancer broke my Gram. And it took her sister too. I remember the broken boys (grown men), sobbing for their mothers. For their great losses. I saw my friends break. I remember the helpless feeling. I could do nothing. Nothing to take away the pain. There is still nothing I can do. I can't fix this. And it keeps coming back.

I have great admiration for the Survivors. Both the ones directly infected and the loved ones left behind. They make for great fighters, informers and supporters. I am just sorry for all that they have lost. I hate cancer.

Party In My Closet

I just had a party in my closet.  At 7:00 a.m. I woke up and decided to try the scale.  Holy crap!  Another 5lbs! FIVE!  I usually don't get excited about this until I see it stick for a couple weeks.  But after the jeans episode this weekend (I was surprised to find that I could glide into them effortlessly), I decided that I should just check.  Five pounds.  Gone. Zapped.

This was the kind of party where only I can hear the awesome music, because it's all in my head.  This time I let my fingers skip over the "safe" tops and shirts and stop on the "If only" ones.  A couple of them fit so well that they were almost a bit too big in some areas.  I was stunned.  There was a day that I would pull them on with great hope and know before they got over my head that it was going to be a sad fit.  Now, I wondered if they were even the same shirts.  I pulled on another.  This one fit better, but not quite right.  Yet.  I have decided that this will be the one I will wear for Thanksgiving.  The feeling I had was entirely different than the last time I tried it on.  I was optimistic.  I can do this.

Then, I looked down at my feet and ankles.  Hello there!  I have toes, not sausages.  And LOOK!  There's my ankle bone.  Oh!  Wowwee!  Check out those beautiful bulging veins!  Let's try those cute slip on Sketchers that haven't fit in over a year.  YES!  There is actually loose skin that wrinkles up when I flex my feet.  I love it.  Because it reminds me of how swollen my feet have been for so long. 

I invite my loving husband to the party.  "Look!", I tell him.  He's excited, but not nearly as much as I am.  He's more concerned about how badly my hands have been hurting and wonders why my feet are so much better.  I don't want to ruin the mood by admitting that, although my feet look a-may-zing!, they are still very painful.  Why worry him?  I have come to terms with the facts.  This is what life is like.  What it will be like. It has taken me a long time to truly accept this. And this is my body.  To ask or expect him to accept it at this point is unrealistic.  I encourage him to check out my curves and I stick out my right foot for him to admire once more.  How I wish I could call my girlfriends, but it is too early.  They would get this and not make it heavy with well intended worry.

If only.  If only I could get off these pesky steroids.  Weight loss and body shaping would happen with greater ease.  Even the doc told me this last week.  "Your blood pressure is down (something I have NEVER struggled with. It has always been crazy low.  Until RA & steroids.) and your weight is down.  That is great.  I want you to loose a lot more weight though.  And that will happen if we can get you off the steroids and get you moving more.  But for now, we can't get you moving more until we get everything else under control.  Once that happens, you will find the weight coming off faster.  For now, South Beach lifestyle and patience.".  You got it, doc.  We are on the same page.  For now.  For now, the steroids stick.  I am on a dose that doesn't mask the pain, but allows me to move.  I could take more, but I don't want to.  I want to get off of them.  I love steroids and I hate them at the same time. 

In the meantime, party in my closet.  :0)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One Size Closer to Reality

I almost wrote the shortest post ever this morning.  But I didn't have time.  DROPPED A PANTS SIZE!  That is what it would have said. 

One of the most incredible feelings, as an overweight woman, has to be pulling on a pair of jeans with the anticipation of an ugly struggle and getting just the opposite.  The surprise of them going on almost effortlessly.  Oh, what a glorious, beautiful feeling!  For more than a  couple months now, the scale has told me that I lost some weight, but my body took a while to show it.  And it wasn't until recently that I truly believed that I actually lost it.  It wasn't coming back.  Some of the medicines I am on really mess with the scale and it takes quite a while to see what happens when the dust settles.  It's not coming back.  I've lost it.  For good.  I was in love with my body.  For now.

Love your body.  We hear this ALL the time.  We preach it.  We agree it sounds like a good theory.  But, do we really believe it?  I don't.  I know that I have stood in front of the mirror (when I could stomach it) in anger, in tears, in heartache, in mourning, in disbelief and in defeat.  No.  There wasn't/isn't much room for love there.  I would tug, hoist and suck in everything I could and entertain thoughts about hacking of chunks of the unwanted...the ugly.  Thoughts of the "old me" play through my mind and I think of those who knew me when and still wonder what they must think.  In my heart I know it doesn't and shouldn't matter.  But I would be lying if I said it never crosses my mind.

And so today, as I drove through the country, officially ONE SIZE SMALLER!, I thought about stuff.  Weight and body stuff.  The conclusion, I need to love AND respect my body.  For real. We all do.  No matter what.

I thought about all this in terms of, well, cars.  We all have a Dream Car.  Most of us have to live with a Reality Car.  I happen to love my Reality Car, but who doesn't drool over the Dream Car?  But we need to respect the vehicle that is our primary mode of transportation, regardless.  We need to care for it.  Of course, there are always models that are one or three times better than what we have.  They may be sleeker, faster, sexier.  In the end, we need them to get us from A-B.  I can honestly say, looking back, that there was something about each one of my cars, that I loved and missed when I moved on to the next.  Even the two 1970's AMC Concords I owned at different times.  The one that I would shout out the lyrics to Blind Melon's 'No Rain' in.  And the other that was brightest and ugliest blue you have ever seen!  They held memories and had cool features that I liked a lot.  They served me well.  And I cared for them as best as I knew how to so they could continue to serve me even longer.  I have been kinder to my vehicles, than to myself.  I certainly would love a Dream Car.  But I am kinda in love with my Reality Car.  It has cool features, gets me where I need to go...and is actually a nice looking car (as far as minivans go). 

There used to be a thinner model Rachel. I enjoyed her and yet, I can honestly say, that I did not love her as I should have.  I looked in the mirror and thought about different shaped eyes, a smaller nose, less cheek when I smiled, brighter teeth and sure, I thought about being a different number on the scale and smaller thighs.  I was beautiful and so tormented at the same time.  Because I didn't truly love the body I was in.  At the time, I hated myself.  These days, the hate for me is gone...but I have separated myself from my body.  If that makes any sense.  I am OK with the person I have become, but not the body I am in.  I no longer wonder what will be said of me when I am gone, when I die.  I used to all the time.  I know what will be said.  I know what kind of person I am and what is thought of me, today. I now worry, momentarily, about how many people it will require to carry my casket.  Then I remember, I want to be cremated.  No worries.

Though today was exciting for me, I had to make myself this promise: No matter what, I must love this body I am in.  It has served me well.  Even though every joint screams at me, some days, like a Marine Drill Sergeant trying to break me, I can feel them.  And I can still scream back, get up and fight back.  I love this body that has enabled me to fight these past couple of years.  A fight I know others would have fallen before the battle began.  I love this model that was chosen for me.  I don't give up(forever!) or in and either has it...despite it all.  We were meant for each other.  Even though I have been most disrespectful and abusive;  mentally, verbally and physically.  I promise to love and respect this onesizesmaller body.  My body.  My Reality Car.