murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Tag: Faith

The elusive bell that taunts.

These past five years have been a long, damn (Sorry, Sister) time to hear that sound, applause and tears for strangers – other patients winning their journey with cancer  – when I wanted for myself.  But today it arrived for me.

The elusive and well-respected bell at Siteman Cancer Center announces a patient is clean. It is loud. It is overt. It is a prize.

No longer will I be mistaken for a pharma rep and asked for directions as I head for my own body scan.  No longer will I cry BEFORE the physician walks in to give me the latest results. No longer will my parents have to live with the worry of another phone call saying it remains present.

Nope, from here out, checkups are like an annual well visit of health and gratitude.

My junior mint of cancer is no longer elusive, no longer a tease. Today, the bell was mine.

Thank you to my friends and family for all the love and support along this emotional journey.

Mel

#SitemanCancerCenter #RingtheBell #Standup2Cancer

#SitemanCancerCenter #RingtheBell #Standup2Cancer

The AARP membership is lurking….

… and so my bucket list requires a second page with the countdown to a peak birthday gaining on me this week.

Thus, page two… (because as you have read in previous posts, I have been honored already with much love, adventure, misadventure, travel, professional moments and health/family/heartbreak experiences that many don’t see in their FIRST 44+ years.)

  • Learn to surf.  Without hitting my head on a rock or being eaten by a shark. No interest in the perfect wave, just up once balanced on the board and in the breath. (And not like the windsurfing experience in high school where the coaches had to bring me back in a boat before floating out to sea off a Bermuda inlet.)
  • Master (ok, stay afloat) my own Kayak. Still aiming for Madonna-like arms at 45. @Goldsgym has a rowing machine, but with Evanesence and Jack Johnson on my ear phones, it simply isn’t the same as water, waves and Mother Nature taking care of me.
  • Be published. (Beyond front page news as “spokesman” or a simple niche trade journal article.)
  • Hike/Raft the Grand Canyon with new friends I meet also new to the backpack life. (love the movie @WILD though showering more often than four states would be my preference.)
  • Move out West.
  • Dharma (our calling) is different for all.  Title and money mean little.  Legacy is based on love and meaning. Model integrity and remind others that legacy lives far beyond what they see of themselves.
  • Be courageous enough to tell my family that healing is a calling, and Yogic philosophy/Reiki (energy work) is real. No, it isn’t a PhD, but a higher power is with us.
  • Use my professional gifts to help friends see their dreams and legacy become a reality.
  • Visit Greece.
  • Trial a batting cage.
  • Sit ON the infamous Hollywood sign in LA to see the view (ssshhhhh, think this might not exactly be supported by local law enforcement.)
  • Be cancer-free and finally get the honor to ring the damn bell! We are coming up on year five. I am so over this word and scene!
  • Take my daughter, mom, bonus mom and sisters-in-law (on me) for a weekend at Kripalu, the largest yoga and Ayurvedic school in the country. We will practice gratitude in our own wise women’s circle and engage something that they too add to their bucket list of adventure… #family first.
  • Skydive (but not until my sweet teen is grown and on her own)
  • Hike and put my feet in the ocean in the same day
  • Own a jeep and laugh when it rains on me, b/c I’m old and can afford to have it cleaned. And who really cares!
  • Be the best Auntie M I can be to my sweet niece.
  • Set and stay true to consequences for the teenage daughter who trials her verbal skills each and every day with me.  Find the balance between pride at her persistence but remain the trusted, sacred mom not just “friend.”
  • Release worry, anger and count my blessings each and every day. Gratitude is our choice to give and practice.
  • Recognize and accept unconditional love in the smart, loyal, sexy man I have yet to meet. (plus, many prayers for bonus children that come with loving us.)
  • Ensure my baby girl always feels loved and knows I have her back. For good. For always.

Don’t waste your funding solicitations, @AARP. I’m far too young for membership.

And btw- please rebrand yourself.  So few retire at 50 these days, it is a sad reality when I remind folks we are closer to your membership age status than the public launch of the internet.

Om Shanti (peace) and #bebold

Mel

v8U32sM81H_211uWwwSRCwpxtf233162ShSHW3tZ7wAOseKrw_b4vThWGHdHZS7J1X4cUC_H1MOivwKewDts6yAfebbMxMBtAm0ymB7q6TqMez2eJiLMrjEFk9D91bZL6tTxNO01OvUFPhq-cT9oyPrMQtxO4AsYJ7yd_FjyNQITqqGcCLe7ZzjszpZXJIxGTF_s0XNo66UG8azJEyXDn9YB5CS1Pm

The abstract beauty of loving and being loved.

The word itself is abstract. Loving self, partner, friendship, parents and parenting. It is a simple smile in a crowded airport – just a second and a strong heartbeat. A friend in your life you’ve known for years who suddenly takes your breath away. A walk on a pier that makes you believe you can do anything. A look across a crowded fraternity party or middle school class room. The way you laugh together so hard you cry and can’t catch your breath. It is comfort in silence. A hand on your heart just because. It is staying when sickness rears itself. It is calling for a ride because driving would be unsafe. It is reading in bed, holding hands, riding the Ferris wheel, rallying each other, and sharing popcorn at the movies.

Why does loving someone happen across distance, setting us up for the unavailable by geography….and not due to wanting to love and be loved in return?  Do we make the choice out of protection for our own hearts, or is a higher power in fact connecting dots we don’t understand.

Why does it hurt to be left, even when we know they will return?

I hear folks say, “it shouldn’t be this hard”…”if this was real, you wouldn’t treat me this way”….but in some ways, it is the loving someone so deeply that changes our behavior. We want this abstract “love” so much, we become something that isn’t rational. It hurts, and we can’t understand nor wish it away.

Sure, codependency is a term of truth and mental health, but it must feed from somewhere.  The seed occurs because of unclear and unexplainable connection – unhealthy or not. And it doesn’t happen with the neighbor next door, or the guy at the gym or in the next office space, so why at all?

It’s heat and kindness, timing and awareness, open and closed, broken and wonderful, light and dark.

And always abstract. We are human.

We believe because it is both wonderful and painful. Both make us feel real and alive. But the same exact emotional up and downs break our hearts with a fierceness that can’t be explained, as it too is abstract. Irony? No.

Want, lust, loneliness, companionship, silliness, sharing, kindness, venting, fear, touch. All things that make us real.  All things that make us human.

They say we don’t often know what we had until it is gone. But perhaps it is even bigger in theory – more abstract and complex than simply looking backwards…….is it more real to fully face ourselves and admit we don’t even know we have loved until we don’t?

…OR WE DO, and we miss the present and abstract beauty by seeing through, around, sideways, and in front of us as we hold its gift in our hand.

The abstract and unexplainable beauty of loving and being loved.

White lights,

Mel

love-wallpaper

 

 

 

Be gentle with yourself.

Invited to join a new friend’s ‘chair yoga’ class at a local cancer treatment center today, I found a new sweetness to a practice I so love. Over 15 elderly cancer patients and survivors enjoyed their weekly one hour of stillness, healing, camaraderie, compassion and strength….from a chair. The practice of meditation (centering), breath-work (pranayam), warm ups (pratapana), asana (postures) and relaxation all remaining true to the core elements of yogic philosophy. There is beauty in knowing the room held a majority of chair users over the age of 80+.

All of whom have or had some form of cancer.

These yogi and yogini practitioners demonstrate that survival indeed prevails. I watched the gentleness with which they watched their own alignment and trusted their own inner yoga teacher. No ego, no judgment, just love and what yoga teaches us as foundation, meaning breath and oneness with self.  Sweetness indeed.

Asked to set an individual intention as traditional yoga teaches, these yogis likely selected very different types of intention than many of us able-bodied…..I often set intention for good health for my family, love partnerships that sustain, or that selfishly, my professional anxieties will dissipate; while today’s chair yoginis may very well cherish patience through chemotherapy, praying a former chair patient and friend stays out of hospice a more few weeks, financial stability allowing for further treatment, and/or best yet, signing the survivor quilt so proudly displayed in the entryway.

The lesson in walking away for me today wasn’t about sequence or structure or even body type, rather it was about introspection of self, fragility of spirit, strength of friendship, appreciation of stillness and knowing that age isn’t a number when we believe in ourselves… and finally, that all of us, regardless of strength, balance or flexibility, benefit from being one with the moment.

be gentle. with yourself. with your body. with your spirit.

Om shanti,

Mel

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 2.40.54 PMp/c: dailydoseofhannah.wordpress.com

Be very clear, ALS, we have Pocket Larry’s back.

A short acronym. A difficult enunciation. A devastating disease.

And today there is no cure.

Thing is, ALS, Larry’s friends and family are not ok with this disease. We want you stopped. And so an energetic and intense support network is in place to see that Larry’s impact on the world of ALS is not just a fight. It is a growing campaign that in fact mirrors Larry’s own uniqueness.  Love, spirit, prayer, kindness, generosity, silliness, strength, a dad’s wisdom, and some bad-ass marketing, public relations and merchandising talent!

Get ready, ALS, as Larry’s squad of support….throws the chair at you (http://webstl.alsa.org/goto/walk4larry), outruns you 12 times over (half-marathons, no less)**, and ensures folks across all social media platforms know we have his back.

I was lucky enough to have Larry as a senior supervisor roughly five years ago. He smiled at me in that first week, and I knew I had wisdom awaiting me. He called us “Mishpocha”, meaning family in Yiddish, and I would venture I wasn’t the only one who knew his sincerity in that word. He could be overtly stern or even powerfully silent, but I do not recall a time when there wasn’t a follow-up about what lesson could be learned. He was always however quick to compliment and praise when he saw hard work and dedication, and he never missed a teaching moment.

Wisdom simply follows this wonderful man.  And as such, people choose to follow him.

When my cancer diagnosis came as a surprise one year after knowing Larry, I started this blog. Initially, it was just easier to tell the story one time to 100+ people, rather than 1:1, 100 times. In week one; however, Larry signed on to join my journey via the blog, and sent me private notes, prayers and love along the way….it’s been four years, and we no longer work in the same place, but I am pretty certain there are NO more than 10 people in this whole world that have read every single one of my 65+ posts.  I suspect Larry is one of those 10.

I am one person in a sea of people he has touched. I can’t imagine a finer mentor and adopted grandpa and/or dad than Larry is to many like me. Likely, many of us not even knowing he was mentoring so many of us at the same time. Likely, he not knowing how many of us saw him as such.

You are a gift, my friend. Taking a pocket-size version of you on a journey these last 10 days has been an honor. Cheers to raising awareness, funds and a cure.

So again, I repeat.  Be clear, ALS!  Pocket Larry is indeed an original, and we have his back.

love and light,

Mel

On June 27, 2015 the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS is being held in Forest Park. Please join the team to support our friend, Larry Tyler.

#PocketLarry #outrunningALS #ALSWalkSTL

https://www.facebook.com/groups/walk4larry/

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment-“No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.*

* http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

** https://www.facebook.com/outrunningALS?fref=ts, outrunningals.com

“never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves” – mom

lol, my brave, psychotherapist, mom said that to me months ago, and I am watching my own 14-year-old…. well, NOT always do that which she can for herself….unless there is a consequence from me.

I suppose I too was the same at that age. I’ve blocked a lot, as of course, I only recall cleaning my room without being asked, playing classical (yeah, right) music softly while doing homework immediately upon return from school, cleaning the dishes without being asked and making gourmet dinners for the entire family after walking all the neighborhood dogs and babysitting for free.  lol!

The 60s.  The 80s.  And today.  Girls will be girls.  Trips to the mall with no money and small figures to try on clothes we couldn’t afford but giggling and following the cute boys who appeared more interested in the video arcade than our awkwardness.  Fashion trends that used to be magazine cutouts from Teen Beat are now iPhone apps or Instagram polls to determine the best dress or shoes or nail trends with immediate inputs from our girl ‘squad’. I remember roller skating parties with hard rock hair, lip gloss and the hope of a cute boy to ask me to slow skate to Rick Springfield or Loverboy, or the school or regional teen nights where again we waited our moment to slow dance with cute boys to the same Rick Springfield or Journey favorites.  Girls will be girls.  The motive is the same, the approach very different.

We rode our bicycles all over town and to the pool day in and day out, only coming home for meals and darkness. Wore t-shirts over our bikini’s because of feeling self-conscious. We called one another on our princess phones to chat up who liked whom, and whom should ask who to the Sadie Hawkins dance.  Today, they text directly without a face to face reality of body language, speak in group chats (and forget who is included), forward information behind one another’s back, create fake identities, “borrow” WIFI, and try leaving the house in outfits a dad wouldn’t approve, watch the “like” frequency grow on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, flirt in a much more overt approach than sneaking notes in class with alter ego’s (i.e. the Soda Pop gang of my own elementary days), and have to delete the photos mom watches online (because well, I pay for the phone, and that is the deal)……but when we as parents really evaluate our teens of today…...the outcome our own kids seek today remains exactly the same as we sought at their same age.

But…..my sweet girl is approaching teen-hood with different tools in the toolbox.  We both wanted the same things at 14:  To be liked. To be kissed. To fit in.  Somewhere. Anywhere. To feel safe. To feel confident. To have our parents trust and respect our choices and privacy.  To not get in trouble or be grounded or frankly, caught when we did cross a line.

It is the right of passage to push boundaries at this age.  It is a healthy part of development that they do seek the edge, and it is our place as parents to teach coloring inside the lines.  We are both doing our part, but it isn’t easy.  Sometimes, it is damn hard.  And still no one offers me the handbook?  So I do the best I can.  Sometimes I get it right.  Other times, not so much.

So as parents, how do we keep them safe, instill confidence, ensure the toolbox stays within the lines and doesn’t place them in a social bullying situation that appears easier today with a click of the button in a world WE created?  I’ve often joked that my use of Breck hairspray likely contributed to global warming; but the internet offering opportunity for endless wonderful resources also offers endless new areas of temptation;  processed foods make life faster and easier, but perhaps not healthier (and Celiac disease more prevalent).  Friends of my generation, we created this world, and so as parents and consumers, we must face the darker side.  Our tool box has changed too.

There are no easy answers, but I do have to give my sweet girl the trust I wanted from my parents, and the resources and knowledge to feel confident, remain safe, and know she is unconditionally loved.  I trust her to make good choices.  And when we do not agree, there are, in fact, consequences. In our house, there are rights, and there are privileges.  They are very different.  No, we don’t always agree on the difference.

That however is the fun and balance and journey of this parent-teen relationship….seeking what works for us in 2015 with the toolbox we have today.

Cheers to our own children repeating the same phrase, “never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves.’  The world will be different at that time, and so too their toolbox.

White lights,

Mel

I thank you for loving me.

I am privileged to have had many, many wonderful people love me in this life.  Each of those who do today, or have loved me in the past, have been a teacher and gift-giver.  Through tears. Through laughter. Through joy and drama and dress up and sweat.  Through dares of silliness and darkness of hurt. Through meditation and prayer.  So many of you.  I thank you for loving me.

You have sent me silly notes, beautiful flowers, read to me, told me ghost stories and held my hand.  You have dropped off gluten-free goodies at my door or sent inspirational quotes or murphy moments of your own to make me laugh.  You have started dance floors, walked through snow, run through mud, been tattooed, ordered silly drinks, taught me to ride a bike, walked along city streets, traveled all over the globe, skipped along side me, suffered in silence on long drives, or sung loudly to songs only I would like.  You’ve been caught underage with me.  You skipped school with me.  You drove me to the hospital when the diagnosis came and came again….and still again. So many of you. I thank you for loving me.

I am blessed for what each of you have gifted me in growth.  It hasn’t always been easy, and more than a few times, loss has hurt like hell, but I’m stronger and with age, listening closely to each grand lesson.

This sudden strike of hurt parallels the likes of a hurricane.  You know it is coming, and yet, while preparing and seeking cover, the blow is still internally painful and alters the landscape while we ride the wave.  It is just that, interpersonal suffering. But it is only a wave. That blow ends.  And something new gently unfolds.

This is the gift.  The path of our truth and personal landscape comes from each of these wonderful souls along the wave – sometimes blowing in like the strong gusts of wind in a storm.  We ride the wave as the feeling isn’t forever.  It comes and goes.  It ebbs and flows.  It balances us and sometimes tosses us high in the air for that deep-down giggle or sharply drops us as we feel the sting of reality. A reality that forever changes the person we were the day just prior.

Sometimes the strangest and most profound friendships come into our lives when we least expect- for reasons unknown to us.  In fact, we may not even like or remember you at first.  Some friendships dissipate, but they always leave a mark.  These souls may encourage us to want more, to ask for the order, to start or finish something, to begin again, to find our truth, to follow our heart, to change, to let go, to leave when it is right, to help us find courage or beauty we can’t see inside ourselves, to live authentically, to truly know love, to love again, to say thank you, to forgive, to get help, to be a better person or parent or friend.  Perspective from outside of our own head is healthy and a gift, when thoughtfully presented with loving-kindness.

“As I look back on my own yesterdays”, I am honored by the immense amount of love given to me freely and without expectation.  I didn’t always appreciate nor have I always reciprocated that unconditional love in an overt way, but I am indeed grateful for the souls that have and continue to cross my path.

The holes of heartache; however, are never holes for long.  There will be new characters in the plot.  New friends and loves that enrich our experience in this universe and teach us self-awareness as we ride our wave.

Cheers to a new surf board and the ebbs and flows of what is a certain wave called this wonderful life.  I thank you for loving me*.

Mel

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMG8EVEwdA8 (You Tube, Tenors, “I thank you”)

Living two lives. Thank heavens it is a Monday.

So, I’m just home after an 11+ hour day on a Monday.  My sweet daughter is working on homework.  I am however entering the second part of my double life.  The part where reality hits a home-run.

In front of a group of physicians, colleagues, city officials, students, large clubs, toastmasters, BOD involvement, the c-suite, etc., I am “on”.  I was raised to be “on”.  What I wasn’t cleared for was the slap of pain that is called my second life.  It happens on weekends, evenings without my  daughter, any time frankly, when fear and a hit or reminder of what loneliness means to my new path, strikes.

A loneliness I hadn’t seen in many moons.

I’ve said to several people lately, I live two lives, but few- very few!- see both.  One life is polished, confident, capable, knows how to market just about anything and meet/greets like she is running for office.  The other finds safety in her bedroom cave, can sleep away full days without leaving or eating, enjoys a teary eyed afternoon for release, and keeps trying like hell to accept this new phase of life.  Partially, I’m just exhausted because raising a 6th grader, living with a cancer that won’t leave my body, and working long hours is just plain tiring (to be fair, I thrive on the craziness and stir), but tonight, when I should be able to just enjoy a little reading or a no brainer TV show, I am again engulfed by the reality of not accepting a divorce that is inevitable, nor something I chose, wonderful friendships I have damaged along this windy road, family I barely see because I am humiliated about what has happened, and a daughter who rightly so, is mad at the world because of what has happened in our lives in two years.  (She is also a new teenager, and with that, comes new pangs that even a healthy mama with a brain that works 100% can’t navigate. :))

The reality is I live two lives.  Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm is life one.  And when my sweet girl is with me, I go into “on” mode, but otherwise, the second life path is a struggle and few know my boundaries, expectations for myself, perspective on what is important today, my new questions and fears of commitment, what fierce loyalty means to someone ill, questioning if a porch swing partner can maintain a promise, questioning faith, the messiness of changing my last name and identity for marriage in the year 2012, and the biggest of all – questioning my own choice for a lifetime commitment of unconditional love and friendship.

Thank heavens today is a Monday.  The second life is dark until week end.

I may be the only person who genuinely celebrates the work week, because it is safer on my heart.  (And ironically, I am in charge of crisis communications in an industry that is fourth most dangerous for work place violence (just next to liquor stores and taxi cabs).  Sounds fitting for a Mel-like story,  right?)

Cheers to a productive and happy Tuesday.

Om Shanti, Mel

Champagne High…”where will I be when I stop wondering why?”

“All things happen for a reason”

“God only gives you what you can handle”

“You will be stronger because of this experience.”

If all of these were true, why the need for psychotropic drug therapy?

I’m questioning so much these days.  And for all the years I preached “all things happen for a reason”, only one person ever called me out.  Was he right?

I wonder as another health scare comes my way -still in the middle of this stormy weather my daughter and I face-what have I done to create such a weather pattern of chaos and hurt?  I can’t bear for my parents to sit with yet another doctor and hear what could again be the worst a parent can hear, much less another sit down chat with my sweet daughter to explain the stomach pain and need to rest so often.  It simply isn’t fair to any of the people who love me.

I’ve wondered if in a past life I did something that causes today’s penalty, or if it is possible that we suffer as a group today to prevent pain in a future life. Or, am I simply over thinking what is either a pipe dream of justification, or not facing what is real life.  Sometimes we just don’t know when the mudslide will hit.  There is a part of me that feels guilty and selfish about complaining through any pain and this endless sock in the stomach of unknowns, when random acts of crime and hurt affect folks every day, every minute all around the world.  Perhaps I’m simply getting mine in one big lump sum.  I kid that someday God and I will have a long talk about the “why” of this all.

A friend recently said that the only control I have in all of this muck is my attitude.  And while I get it logically, the emotional side of what’s inside my circle of control is pretty thick these days.  And damn, I don’t even like Champagne to add to the mix.

Cheers to the unknown and always asking why.  That I can do.

Mel

“…..our story’s completed, but it’s a long way from done….Where will I be when I stop wondering why...”**

**  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oLcDhIWxuY  (Champagne High, Sister Hazel)

The smack down of STL humidity is a lot like life. It just happens.

….and we embrace, endure, unleash our creative spirit, and take the journey back to ourselves.

I tend to run at 100mph most of the time.  It’s perhaps an escape mechanism, long legs and heels, or perhaps it’s just type A madness from which I cannot escape.  But regardless, I too must crash from time to time to refresh, renew spirit and ask for spiritual alignment.

My supervisor teases me that as an extrovert, I am in my element when “on”, and as such, the energy pushes me through even the toughest of anxious situations.  But these moments do test my ability to be “on” in the same way I have always known, when my personal life “storm” isn’t as obvious publicly.  So, sometimes the crash is even harder on my spirit.

Frankly, at work, with my sweet girl or with a close friend or family, I can either escape totally from the “storm” or be candid about the real me.  And here too, I get that same release in some strange way.  But when the escape moment is over, there is not a metaphor more suitable than like walking outside into the STL humidity that smacks you in the face to bring you back to the reality of our lives.  The wall of heat that hits you hard as you walk out of a cool, safe place.

We all carry “stuff” with us on our journey.  Just this week, I learned of a peer who has been facing an emotional wound he keeps close to the vest.  And while his family enjoyed incredibly loving and optimistic news to remedy this wound just this week, it reminded me again of how we break a leg and stay home but an emotional wound hits, and we still get up, drink coffee, make the bell for the early morning meeting and go home to that reality.  It’s all around us, and yet we don’t know who embraces what and what path they take to heal themselves.

It affirms I am where I am meant to be, meaning the people who cross my path at a given moment and reach out to ask if I am ok even when they don’t know the big picture.  I am incredibly honored by the folks that read this blog and tell me when I had no idea it reached as many, and in as many ways as it has.  My original intention was a cathartic way to reach anyone when I was overwhelmed by my own loneliness, and instead, I learned so many of us face these same anxieties, fears, loss on a day by day, and sometimes moment to moment basis.  You are not alone, my friend.

Yesterday was a vulnerable day.  Last weekend was full, lovely and healing.  Folks see me and forget I have cancer, OR know the other losses, and assume the cancer is gone because the early treatments are done.  And yet, I can’t forget either.  They are my personal humidity smack down, and no one can live in my shoes but me.  The road ahead is long and windy…..and frankly, still pretty damn scary.

But my daughter and I are just two entities in God’s plan.  And we are still keeping it together- day in and day out.  My daughter is my role model for resilience and acceptance.  And she doesn’t even know the strength and love she gives me each and every day to get through this madness and mess.

I remember the first time I could see myself in the mirror after Lasic surgery years ago and thinking “where did those wrinkles come from- they weren’t there before”….lol.  I guess life is a lot like that.  We take off the glasses and reality presents itself in full view.

And then we move forward with vulnerability in some moments, with grace in others.

Om Shanti,

Mel

“The well lived life of a beautiful young man.”

Privileged to work for the kind, loving colleagues, I do, I was again reminded today what is important in our lives.  Priority.  Love.  Family.  Faith.

As I embraced both heartache and celebration of a true hero’s life today -a near 16-year-old boy who has endured, battled, embraced, taught and loved through 8+ years of Leukemia, I was reminded that while my own challenges through mud continue, others too have their own muddy mountains that slip and slide.  We also have hands that reach for us in the dark, heal our heart over time and with amazing courage, love us through darkness and light.

We were not surprised that this young man indeed “practiced what he preached” as his dad shared that M’s words to his middle school graduates just a year ago included the following:….(messages from which we all should live and take on our individual journeys…)

1.  “Help others with disabilities.”  They are not defined by the disability.

2.  “Contribute to your community.” M was always in the corner of the disadvantaged.

3. “Always be kind to one another”.  Kindness matters.

We were graciously offered that M. knew “the power of his purpose was to inspire others to do good”.  And how can you not want that when seeing those bright eyes and big grin flash a spirit so real, piercing and full of faith and adventure, even through fatigue, challenge, change and the unknown?

Cancer is a curse and a blessing, and this young, amazing and ingenious man knew and lived this through his Faith and sharing that which he felt with others.  “It is a curse because of the suffering. It is a blessing because of what flourishes from its presence.”

And finally, what struck me most personally, was a line that flashed on a beautifully prepared memorial video on M.’s life. “Family means never being left behind or forgotten.”  

My friends, love those in your life today.  Ensure they understand you will not leave them alone when frightened and unsure of the journey ahead.  Pray. Hope. Believe. Love. And fierce, fierce loyalty always, as this brave family has done for their sweet M.

We are honored to have known you, M, or know those who love you.  We are stronger for the gifts you have given and the messaged coins you have showered upon our hearts.  We are gifted your presence and belief in a higher power that “asked” you to suffer for a reason I believe you know today in a more peaceful setting.

Today touched me, and I am thankful from a place that even I don’t understand.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore.

Om shanti, my young man.  Some day we will meet, and you will tell me how and why the mountains make us whole again.

Melissa

Fierce Loyalty. It is our choice to give.

When I started this blog, my goal was fun and upbeat, but this past weekend of seclusion, due to the now complete radioiodine treatment, forced me to think more pensively.  This is life and what makes us real. I’m done hiding behind a pretend “everything is fine”. Sometimes, things just hurt.  And well, these last few months have indeed hurt.  A lot.

On my FB and Twitter pages last week, I wrote “Fierce loyalty is a rare, rare gift.” Several people “liked” but one friend privately disagreed.  He said no, fierce loyalty is simply, “Faith”.  He may be right, Faith is likely one of the fiercest of loyalties, but not everyone experiences in such a deep, thoughtful way, nor do they look at a higher power from his perspective.

When my former mother-in-law passed away after 25+ years living with Multiple Sclerosis, I felt something-perhaps Faith- sitting in Blessed Sacrament’s beautiful chapel. I was sitting alone and just felt something.  In retrospect, it was likely “faith” or some awareness, yet unknown to me of fierce loyalty.  Mollyanna’s grandma had been in nursing home for 10+ years, never known her granddaughter except with a teardrop or eye movement -but not in the sense to hold her or cuddle as a grandma should. But the loyalty wasn’t about her, it was about family.  Molly’s great grandma, Nell, her  grandpa Jim, her uncle ,Tim and her dad were at a Lebanon nursing home 25 minutes from their home EVERY day for those 10+ years so she would NEVER eat a lunch or dinner alone.  And she couldn’t speak back, likely didn’t have much in the way of cable and never shared a meal.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

Loving your child with your whole heart and knowing that you would do anything in the world to protect them.  That’s love, that’s fierce loyalty. I would give my life for my girl, never move away from her for a job, and I would work any job possible to keep her healthy and thriving. I am the parent and will do what I think is best.  Will she likely need a psychotherapist some day to work through all this madness I have swirled about us? Yes, but you know what, I will pay for that too- as it was me – not her- that caused the swirl.  She is the best gift I was ever given, and I tell her every day.

I firmly believe if my Grandma Sterling had passed before my grandfather, he wouldn’t have lived for very long without her.  He couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast, but he could tell you about the one room school-house where they met.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

A friend and minister recently shared some private stories about experiences that happened while in seminary that made her question God and why difficult things happen to us when we ask only for love and try our darndest to do our best for a higher power.  After much discernment, she stayed true to the ministry and is today one of my favorite ministers of all I’ve seen preach.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

My best girlfriend from the second grade will take me tomorrow to hear the results on the total body scan knowing full well it may be wonderful or devastating.  She is a single, professional mama working two jobs and going to school and still put me ahead of everything because she knew I needed her.  That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

We all make our own beds in the morning (or not), and we all wake having the day to make our own.  What we do with it is ours.

Loyalty is our choice to give…or not.

I am not in a good place right now.  I am sad and very, very scared. And I fully admit to needing help.  But I continue to breathe, pray, love my little girl and wish for fierce loyalty from the people who cross our paths.

Namaste’

%d bloggers like this: