Saturday, February 7, 2009

I would NOT die for you

A strange comment. I have heard people say that they would die for their children. I know people, and if I tell you who they are then they would have to kill you, who would die for our President. Back in the days when drama permeated my life and I lived a rather high-strung soap-opera existence, saying that I would die for someone was the ultimate in fake love. It somehow meant that my love was deep, enduring and willing to be snuffed out for their benefit. Bullshit.
This week I celebrated a very wonderful anniversary. First let me say that anniversaries are not huge in our little family. Hubby and I jokingly forget the exact date we were married (we originally planned the 26th and then got bumped because some other people had a sentimental attachment to that date). We were in fact married June 25th. That day usually comes and goes with little fanfare. Our birthdays are equally low-key, although we do try to make more of an effort where the children are concerned. My excuse, er, explanation for this personal phenomenon was that we sought the sanctity in every day - so we didn't need constructed events to appreciate each other or to give each other gifts. But that was a bunch of new-agey crap. Mostly these days just snuck up on me and I wasn't organized. There was always a gift or two but never a huge blowout. But something changed this week. February 5th to be exact.
One year ago on that day it was Super Tuesday in the most hotly contested Democratic primary in a generation. And one year ago that day I had life saving cancer surgery.

I remember the moments leading up to that day so clearly. The fear, the excitement, the uncertainty. I had no way to prepare for the other side of that day so I just let my expectations go. But deep down I knew I would be alright, I knew I would do everything possible, and so would my surgeons, to make sure I lived. In the days leading up to this event I planned my funeral. And I had a great time doing it. I approached it like any theatrical event. My objective - to make sure the audience had a wonderful time. That there was a catharsis, that they entered sad, bereaved even, but that they were transformed in that sacred time and liminal space. That it was beautiful and bewitching to all the senses. And that no one was inconvenienced.

I wrote in an earlier post about my death that what scared me the most was the pain I would leave behind. The people who would miss me. The graduations, weddings, births and promotions that would go on without me. And that hopefully there would be a little whisper of me loving them still there in those moments. But in the moment when I needed to decide to live or die I chose to live for my children, for my husband for my grandchildren. Because there was no other way to make their lives better. My kids would not be better off without me. And they probably would never get over it. Once diagnosed, even though it went against my first holistic thoughts, I decided to go full on conventional medicine. I did the chemotherapy that literally felt like it's job - it was poisoning me - for an entire week every single time. I had the tumor resection and the subsequent 3 vocal chord surgeries. I traded in my melodic, resonant teaching voice for one that squeaks and sometimes loses breath. I did the radiation, even after vomiting several times from fear of the machine and falling asleep at the wheel while driving home from the hospital, and months and months of not being able to eat or climb the stairs without assistance. And even on the days when it felt easier to just go to sleep and stay there, I got up everyday. Because I love my children so I will not die for them, but I will live for them, over and over and over again if I have to.
I thank Grace for allowing me to stand here cancer-free. And even after all I've been through when asked if I would do it again I immediately say yes. Because this life will be lived by me but it will be lived for my children. And lest you get it twisted - my happiness, my health and my wholeness makes my children better people. It gives them a silent example of all that is possible. And all a mother will do for her children: she will dare to take care of herself.

We are blessed, may we recognize the blessing

in peace

1 comment:

DoulaMomma said...

beautiful. though the funeral sounds great(!), I'm so much happier not to have it to go to - so happy to have you here for you children, but also (selfishly) for your friends, who are touched by your strength & kindness & humor every day.