Monday, August 22, 2016

Living Color

Today we are officially two weeks away from the two year anniversary of Steven's diagnosis.

Two years.

It is hard to wrap my head around that, seemingly, large passage of time, because for us, time stood still...  We missed events, people, anniversaries, birthdays and the day to day occurrences that most people take for granted.  Our world was, and our days were, dictated by disease.

All I need to do is look at my children to see what I missed and what I lost.  In the midst of treatments and remission, relapse and results my children kept growing and kept doing.  For much of this, I was absent.

However, all I need to do is look at myself, my husband, my children, and the world around me, to see what I have gained. 

*****

I have always tried to be a good person - a good human.   Some days I did a better job than others.  Every day I fell short.  However, after Steven's diagnosis, I realized just how short I had fallen.

There is something about cancer, and it's diagnosis, that magnifies every emotion a person can experience.  It is almost as if our senses are heightened to every stimulation. Maybe it isn't cancer, per say, but death. 

It makes sense, after all. 

My senses were heightened after giving birth, and my heart thought it would explode with the new discovery of love.  Why wouldn't those same senses be heightened when "living" death? 

When you stand to lose the only life you've ever known, every sense you have is raw and exposed.  However, during this period of exposure, every stimulation took on new life.  A kind word could shape an entire day.  The offering of hope could redirect thoughts.  An unexpected act of generosity could reform every preconceived notion that had been held about this world we live in.

And this heightened awareness started to reform me.

The more I was "given", the more I wanted to give.  It was the only way to balance out the emotions that assaulted me.  Thankfully, and sadly, you don't have to look hard outside of yourself to find people who are in greater need than you.  The world is full of those who are in need of love, money, friends, hope, understanding or perspective.  Granted, some of those things are easier to give than others, but all are in desperate need.

In fact, I believe that world reformation starts when we look first at the needs of others.

*****

I can say that my perspective has completely changed and this change has tilted my world on it's axis.  The things I once believed were important continue to fade day by day, the people I once held the closest I have relinquished back unto themselves and the time that I once prayed to stand still now moves forward and I am thankful to have made it, successfully, through one more day.

Each day I continue to grow.  And some days, I take a giant step backward.  However, even on those days, I can't unlearn the things I have learned, and that alone holds me accountable.

While we are all free to give love, money, friendship, hope and understanding to those around us, we can't give someone perspective.  But life can, and does, give us that.

People will, by nature, only see what they want to see until they are forced to do otherwise.  Some people live their entire lives and never are.

I used to be consumed with frustration by people like this - those who failed to see the results of their self centeredness on the world around them.  Now I know that God will open their eyes in His time as He continually opens mine.

I used to want to plan, and formulate, and manage every aspect of my life so that it would go smoothly, without incident.  Life forced me to see that only God plans lives and lives without incident aren't really lived. 

I used to be very unforgiving of myself, and sometimes others, when my high standards weren't met.  Life has shown me the only standards that matter are God's.  I have to remind myself of this constantly, but my heart is more open to accept it now.

*****

I have so much work to do on myself as a person, but the last two years have been a crash course that I needed. A boot camp of sorts.  I wish I could have learned what I have learned without the pain, suffering and anxiety that it caused me, Steven, our children, and others, but I am forever grateful I learned it.

Some never do.

Almost two years later and I am not sure the old Kim would recognize herself.  (And I am not just talking about the weight I put on eating my feelings and sitting around a hospital...) Although it didn't come without a price, I don't want to go back to my old mindset.

And, honestly, I feel sorry for those who continue to live in their own, small, black and white world, where the biggest concern is theirs...  How sad.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hardbound Memories

Back in the olden days, long before "the l word" entered our life, I used this blog as a way to record random bits and pieces of our family's life, and record my thoughts.  (I can't blame my family for those.)  I was initially coerced into starting one, and those who strong armed me wrote too.  Then they stopped and I continued.  Of course, only a handful of people ever read what I wrote, (and even that is probably being generous) and honestly, no one cared.

And that was ok.  That wasn't why I wrote.

My blog wasn't something I promoted or even really told people about.  Only those who shared an interest in blogging generally stopped by, or a friend or two that kept caught up on the freak show that was sometimes my life.

After a few years went by, my mom discovered I wrote (long story) and inadvertently shared my blog with most of her email contacts. 

Yeah.

So, in return, I did some quick house cleaning to make sure that I hadn't wrote something that would embarrass someone...and called it good.  I was ok with embarrassing myself, just not embarrassing others.  My mom also started printing out books of each year's blog posts and putting them into hardbound books and giving them to me to keep.

What began as a thoughtless, mindless avenue to vent, brag, relive and review became a tangible item to scrutinize and dissect.   Coincidentally (or not...), I also stopped writing as much. 

Then, Sept. 2014, my husband was diagnosed with leukemia.  I couldn't process it all.  My life turned into one that I didn't want to live and yet, there I was.  And there he was.  And our kids?  Well, there they were too, being shuffled between home and hospital and living with their aunt and uncle. I started to write again in an effort to keep everyone "in the loop" but it transformed into a place where I would try and process the current situation, and many times I felt as if someone else had done the writing.  I would re-read what was written and try to take my own advice.  

Many times the advice that I "gave" myself included encouragement to get back out into life and live.  Slowly, little by little, that has been just what I have been doing.  And it feels good.

I don't want my kids to look back through these hard bound books that contain snapshots of our lives and someday believe that our days were devoid of any normalcy and happiness from September 2014 on.

They weren't.  They aren't.

Although, as Steven admitted this weekend, worst case scenario thoughts are always there and bring fear and anxiety daily.  The "what ifs" can not be escaped.  Day to day life often brings with it thoughts of the future and ours is still very uncertain.  Steven confessed to wondering about, and worrying about, the ramifications if blasts were to show up when he has blood drawn, or if leukemia was once again detected when he has his bone marrow biopsy in two weeks. 

And I worry too.

I always will.  I have written frequently about my anxiety and worries and the, sometimes, crippling fear, but I haven't written much about living these last two years.

And we are living.  Thank God, we are all, still here, living.

I have decided that living is just as good of a reason to write, and record, as worrying is.  Probably a better one, actually.

So, consider yourself warned.  Although I might not share all my posts on Facebook, if you happen onto my blog, the content might just be that of someone who is living this crazy life they were given...and trying to make the best of it.

After all, aren't we all just trying to do just that? 

You have all made living this life a little bit easier, and for that, I thank you.