Monday, November 19, 2007

Altered State of Mind

I have had the time as of late to think... like I used to think before I had Matthew. For a long time, Matthew was my only thought. When the next feeding would be, how we would get him to sleep at night, would he melt down at a moment's notice, he is eating the right foods... You know the usual parenting worries. So really what I am trying to say is that I spent a lot of time worrying about Matthew.

I also spent most of my free time thinking about Matthew which is a good and bad thing as one can well imagine. I feel I have a moment, a breather during the workout that life presents itself to be. Like a weekend off for your favorite football team, a bi in another words... where there is not much to worry about regarding Matthew in terms of the minute to minute happenings. He is fairly self sufficient. Sure, he gets up in the night and needs me to help him use the bathroom and still cries from time to time about things, the occasional melt down (like when his mommy is miles away in Detroit and he cannot be consoled about missing me...) but else wise he can do a lot on his own, so my need for worrying/thinking about him constantly has waned a tiny bit.

As I mentioned in a previous post, as well as here, I have been feeling like myself again. When I say that I mean I have myself back. It took a long time - I chose to nurse for 20 months and it was worth every moment for me. I was unsure about future babies beyond Matthew and I wanted to take in every moment & nursing for as long as possible was a very important thing for me to do. After the nursing ended, it seemed like another six months before I started really feeling great (which may also coincidentally correspond to FINALLY feeling good about what a lovely wonderful day care situation we have for Matthew - thank you Kelly ;)

The thing is now that I feel good, it is easier to look at life more clearly. Perhaps it is the full nights of sleep and the lack of frustration with bed time, who knows... With clarity comes the realization that I can now enjoy each moment as it presents itself. I always did this prior to this new found clarity with regards to Matthew mainly but in a different way. But now I am able to include more people than just one tiny little soul.

I feel now that I know I am lucky and that life is good. That no matter what happens in this world, I have all the things I ever dreamed of having even though many of those things I thought I used to dream of having are not a part of my life. Those old dreams seem so distant and also frivolous. Like having a certain kind of car or clothing or house was going to make me happy? Really? Not so. I also feel blessed to have some of those things (but certainly these things LOOK very different than I imagined.) I used to think I was owed that kind of thing but now I know it comes from hard work - sort of blood, sweat and tears if you will. And honestly today I feel I would be happy if we lived in a shack and rode the bus as long as I had the love of my son and husband, my sweet puppies and really and truly my health.

This past year, I have talked about Zach and his family's experience with his seemingly unending (and in some ways the unending part is good because that means he is still around to grace us with his smile and cheerful attitude toward life) journey with Hodgkin's Disease. Things I have not mentioned was a scare from a co-worker with skin cancer and another co-worker's husband who continues to battle Lymphoma. Also, Kevin's grandfather passed away some what from neglect on his health care provider's part and a co-worker from a previous job who continues to struggle with the ever debilitating MS she has.

I have not paid much attention to cancer particularly. I did my due diligence to learn about MS and I was aware of skin cancer because well who isn't? But other cancers - they have been hidden from my consciousness. This may seem odd - I think it was some subtle form of denial on my part. I did not really read much when there were articles or forwards on breast cancer and even with that health degree I kind of just ignored it. I knew it would not be long before I would have to sit up and pay attention.

Unconsciously, I knew that I better enjoy each moment in my life for what it is because you never know when life will come along to smack your cheek like a karmic bitch slap basically saying 'wake up girlie it is all around you and it is not going away'. I was not always one to appreciate life and all that it has to offer. I always wanted more and thought that life COULD be better. After having Matthew and coming back to myself recently, I know now that having "things" in this life is great, a bonus even, but not the most important thing. That ultimately loving those around us is really the most important gift humankind has been granted no matter how long or short that love is in our lives... That loving hurts profoundly and can be the greatest thing on earth and all points in between.

On Friday evening, we received word that Kevin's mother has breast cancer - and not just breast cancer but essentially what amounts to the worst kind of breast cancer a human being can have. It is call Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The percentage of people diagnosed with type of cancer is small (1-5%) and it is deadly. The survival rate is 25-50% maybe and the treatment is aggressive...

It is hard to put into words how I am feeling about this. I mean as much as I have bitched about my mother in law, she is really a nice person when you get down to it. She just had the unfortunate "opportunity" to be labeled MIL by virtue of marriage and, of course, she has done her part some times to warrant that bitching.

On the other hand, this is the closest I have ever come to cancer besides perhaps Zach. The ramifications of her cancer scare me infinitely. It is not just the important and immediate implications of what her life will be like from now on but also the fact that I do finally understand the genetic coding that has been passed on to my son by virtue of being half of Kevin. The realization that my family's medical history is fairly tame in comparison to his parents (and grandparents) - both of whom have had cancer (his father is missing part of his colon during to colon cancer as a very young man - he survived obviously and met Kevin's mother who was a nurse where he was in the hospital...) As I lately love to say - 'it is what it is'. I have no control over any of these things. I know that hope is a good thing but it can also dash our feelings as witnessed by my boss and their family's fight for Zach's health.

I find myself looking at life in such a different way now - so radically different for me in the past few months than I have ever looked at life ever. I am quite certain now more so than ever that all things happen to us for a reason (both good & bad), the people we met, the things we come to know, the events that occur in our lives... I am quite certain that for Kevin and his family the next year(s) will be the most difficult adventure in their lives... that I can only hope they all find a way to see beyond the immediate danger of having this kind of cancer and see that life has been filled to the brim with many loving moments, feelings, experiences, and time. That is what I hope for this coming year and I am thankful for today, and the love we have.


Kelly said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your MIL. I will be sure to keep her and the rest of Kevin's family in my thoughts and prayers.

K and J's mom said...

Life has a way of smacking you right into reality sometimes doesn't it? I'm so sorry about Kevin's mother. Please send him (and all of you) my most positive thoughts and prayers. The coming months will be difficult for all of you. Please let us know if we can help out in any way...

LoriD said...

I'm sorry to hear about your MIL. Cancer is such a scary thing becasue the treatment is as vile as the disease.

I found that my emotions ramped up ten-fold as soon as I gave became a mother. News stories, illnesses, world affairs... they didn't faze me much before kids, but now I'm almost paralyzed by the knowledge that life is fragile.

melissa said...

So sorry to hear about your MIL.