Friday, 19 April 2013

" Can I get an Amen"

"In My Life"
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

The Beatles

Just over a year ago I came too New York with some girl friends. The trip had been booked for quite some time and then my lumpy breast started to be a nuisance. I  decided to postpone my scheduled biopsy and go anyways. I guess I knew in my heart that something was wrong. Really wrong. I remember saying to myself that I would not cancel my trip because I might not get to go anywhere for a long time. My instincts were right within a week or so after returning home from my trip to NYC I found out I had cancer.  I will be eternally grateful that I listened to my instincts.
So here I am just over a year since then back in NYC. Doing exactly what I did last year. Only difference is I am short a couple of boobs. It felt important, especially this year, to come back to New York City. It  Feels like a victory of some sort. New York is one of those cities that reminds you to live. That life continues to happen and if you want you can join in anytime. That the world is bigger than the bubble we sometimes put ourselves in or the cycle of living that takes over our existence at times.
The excitement always begins on the taxi run over the bridge. You can feel the energy as it whips all around you. I seem to look at things a little differently these days and embrace each moment a little tighter. This trip I felt more alive than ever in this city. I enjoyed each moment from riding around in taxi's which was a little like driving with Batman in Gotham City to attending a gospel service in Harlem. If you ever felt you needed to go somewhere to get a sense of belonging it happens at a gospel service. The pastor acknowledged everyone from all over the world who sat in his church. He honoured their presence and you felt honoured to be there. The sermon asked us to look at our own lives and question how we live it. To sow our seeds of what ever that needed to be for others and ourselves. She made us all think that day and reflect on our lives something empowering about that since that is really all we have control of in the end. Our own lives.
Moving on with your life after cancer and treatment may look like an easy thing but it lingers. I think once you embrace your life, living it with abandon, laughing whenever you have the chance, being with people that give you energy rather than steal it helps you live an authentic life.I didn't have to be in NYC to figure this out I am just glad I was. I had had my life ramp up to warp speed just before leaving with an elderly father very sick for many weeks. The day I left for my trip he moved into a seniors home. I knew he did not want me to go away, but I knew I needed to. I needed to put my oxygen mask on first now. Changing your mind set can do wonders.
After a great break we set forth for the airport to return home to our perspective families and lives. My phone rings. I look down and I know its my surgeon calling. I knew we were going to set my date for my next surgery for reconstruction but what are the chances they call me as I am in a cab in New York City. My life's realities once again in front of me. Last time they called me I was in Punta Cana with my family. Seemed to be a trend. As I looked at the number from someone I knew would call, I still felt a sense of panic come over me. This would be my third surgery so why am I feeling this way. Maybe because its my third surgery. Hello!!!! Still suffering from PTSD from the memories of my last one I knew as much as I want this over with the thought still scared me.
I know I look great, sound great these days and I feel great but wading through the shrapnel of the past year still throws you for a loop when things like this happen. Being strong requires reflection from time to time whether that makes you sad or happy.
So what I know is grab the moments, or opportunities to go and and live your life always. It will give you the strength to deal with the rest.

" Sow, Grow, Glow"
" Can I get an amen"
Pastor Curtis
Olivet Baptist Church
Harlem NYC

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Whiter Shade of Pale

"We skipped the light fandango"

This last couple of weeks have been interesting, educational , heart wrenching and perspective making. I am lucky in some ways that my inner drive to move forward , to sponge up everything and everyone keeps me continually experiencing something or someone new. There are however some experiences I would chose to keep at bay if I had a choice.
A couple of weeks of ago I get a call from my dear old dad " can you take me to the hospital" after a quick assessment over the phone I knew it was bad. I was at work and had seen his phone call come in earlier but declined it as I was sitting with coworkers. I did however  call him back immediately after I was done but I am not sure that moment of pushing decline on my stupid phone will ever leave me. Maybe its meant to teach me something. Hopefully guilt turns to a lesson learned. Anyways, upon returning his phone call I quickly realised he was quite ill. I called 911, a family member and took a moment gather my thoughts before I raced to his home. They were bringing him to the ambulance when I got there, I looked at his fragile body as they held him out the door and thought " I am gonna lose him aren't I". Guilt and panic jumbled in my head. During the last year while going through cancer treatment I was not able to be there for him like I had been. I knew during treatment I had to pull back to fill my cup so that I could be there for him when I was better. I really was still getting back to being there when this happens. Of course I made it all about me at first. Thoughts of " can I do this" " I never got to be there for him" " this is my fault for not being around more". Oh for god sakes Sondria knock it off. With a very difficult two weeks behind us he is still here and the lighter shade of pale he took on has been replaced with rose coloured cheeks. He is no longer the exact same person he was before he entered the hospital and some changes must take place. The one thing that went through my mind as I watched him struggle back from pneumonia was I needed to honour his life. He deserved to have someone there, to not be alone. His 84 years of living, his 84 years of stories he tells so wonderfully, needed validation for being. I would want that no matter how long I live, which after cancer means sometimes you count the days, hours, minutes. You chose to make sure you live with purpose and sincerely. I didn't think I had the physical, or emotional fortitude to make it through the last few weeks, but I found it knowing what I was doing, being there, was what I needed to do. I will be forever his little girl who sat on his knee or flung my arms around his neck when he came home from work. He was the person who did not let my adopted mom return me to the foster care system cause I was a little screwed up 17 month old when they got me. He said " Mary we can't bring her back, it will break her spirit". He always talked about my spirit when he had first adopted me. How I fought for everything at such a young age with maybe too much experience of not receiving what I needed most as a baby. I will be eternally grateful to him for being my advocate and seeing my potential no matter how young I was. Something I have continued to do through my work life for others.
I had written something for my dad for his birthday a few years ago. Just to say thank you not really knowing how.

Now I must honor my own life.