So, as promised, I'm going to be bare naked honest about something that is very difficult for me.
Just the word causes a part of me to immediately go into hiding.
When I was really young I had a close knit little family. My Nana, Uncle John and my Mom. These three people were everything to me. I learned how to give good back and foot rubs for my mom who was a career waitress. I learned how to sit quietly and "enjoy" Lawrence Welk with my Nana on Sunday Nights so she wouldn't feel alone. I learned to be completely open and affectionate with Uncle john because there was something in his eyes that was always so guarded and sad, but it would melt away when I sat on his lap and hugged him. Serving is a way of life for me. It's my personality type, my love language. These people were my foundation. My happiness was completely wrapped up in loving them and being loved by them.
When I was 4, I found out Nana was sick. She couldn't come down and watch TV with me as often. She didn't go play penny poker with her sisters anymore. She had to drink this horrible "milk shake" medicine to keep her strength up after the trips to the hospital with Mom. She hated that medicine. Sometimes she would have me drink half of it so Mom wouldn't fuss at her about taking care of herself. (It was iron fortified meal shake stuff...nasty!)
When I was 5, I didn't get to visit her much anymore. She was dying. She was so weak she couldn't come out to the hallway early in the morning and call me into her room to snuggle with her while she told me stories about the family. Uncle John was always stressed. He and Mom fought allot about things I just didn't understand. Before long Nana wasn't strong enough to sit up in bed anymore, to hug me, to talk...then she was gone.
My first Irish wake. Nana was in the dining room....the one where we had celebrated my 5th birthday just a few months before. Where Uncle John had taken my new knee socks and put them on his ears as "ear warmers" making Nana laugh and Mom fume. I couldn't go see her. I was too afraid. I understood what it meant that she was dead...I just couldn't stand it. Aunt Sheila, our family's backbone, was there. I can still remember the image of her in the dining room doorway, with the dark brown casket behind her, asking me if I was going to come say goodbye. I ran back upstairs to the room I used when we were at Nana's house in Leominster. I hid in the closet. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't make anyone happy. I couldn't make it better. I couldn't cry.
Uncle John found me. Mom was mad, scared really. They thought I was actually missing for a while. I had stayed in there for a long time. Mom was so sad and broken up about losing Nana...she wasn't thinking clearly. When Uncle John found me I finally cried. I was scared. I didn't want to lose the Nana that had loved me. I couldn't remember sitting with her while she read to me or having dinner with her. All I could remember was her small, frail body, weakened by the sickness, unable to move more than to wave me away and tell me to get my mother for her. All I could see in my mind was her dying. I didn't want it to be like that forever.
Nana had thyroid cancer. Curable now but back in '76, not so much. She suffered, she withered, she died at 64. Mom died of liver cancer in '91, she was 40. It was excruciating to watch her suffer. The tests, the pain. I was 5 months pregnant with Laurana when we found out. Laurana was 4 months old when Mom died, I was 18. My wonderful Uncle died of a combination of pneumonia, lung cancer and AIDS. My father in law died of Lunch cancer. My godmother died of brain cancer, my favorite cousin has fought a battle with breast cancer, two of my dear friends both lost their battles when they were in their early 40s one to bone cancer and the other to liver cancer. This disease haunts me.
When Moose was admitted this past January to the hospital for croup I had to do the typical "family history" questionnaire with the head nurse. I remember standing there giving her the information and she's shaking her head and muttering "Not good, not good." then she asked "And you've been checked for cancer, yes?" "No." "Why not?" the question came in such an accusatory tone. My defenses went up immediately and I practically sneered at her "Because I've been pregnant 10 times in the past 23 years...I haven't had much time for tests.". It was a good enough excuse for her, but it wasn't the truth. Truth is, I'm afraid. (I HAVE been pregnant 10 times in the past 24 years...that just wasn't the reason I avoided getting tested)
I'm so excruciatingly frightened of leaving my children without a mother. It's a horrible feeling to live without a mom. There are so many days of my life, so many things and circumstances, pictures experiences I desperately want to share with her. Losing a mother leaves a hole....and God can fill it, but the desire to be loved, as only a mother can, never leaves you. I asked my Uncle Jim "How long will it hurt like this?" when Mom died. He had lost his mother when he was 18 to cancer as well, he just looked at me. "When does it stop?" I pressed, "Never.". He was 38 then.
I flip flop back and forth between taking care of myself to try and control my future and giving up, being self-destructive, because nothing I do can stop it from happening if it's my destiny. I'm controlled by this fear and it has to stop.
I told Big daddy I'm going to take some steps to conquer this fear I have. He is so understanding, so wonderful that he is behind me 100%, no matter how stupid any of it sounds. Some f it really does sound stupid but it's just because I have to fight with my own mind in order to overcome this and I'm a tad on the disorganized, over analytical, scatterbrained side...just a tad...*sigh* These are my steps
1. I have an overall wellness plan (have I mentioned that I went to school to be a personal trainer and studied nutrition and herbal medicine on the side?) It includes some eating guidelines, an exercise plan and daily scripture affirmations to enable my mind to be "changed and renewed" by God's word. My fears are all lies from my heart and from the enemy. They are designed specifically to keep me bound up and "safe" I NEED something strong and absolute to break free of that, God's word is the only weapon that fits that description.
2. Blog. This portion of my blog is my catharsis. It's my way to get out and deal with what I have been running from for the past 22 years. It's also my accountability to myself and my kids that I won't allow the disease of fear to cripple me, stealing my "now" from my family because of some twisted view of my future. I'm going to post my progress with my health as well as how I'm feeling about the whole thing every week.
3. I am going to shave my head on my 40th birthday. I know this probably sounds asinine to those of you who have actually struggled with this disease, but hear me out.This is my way of standing up physically, drastically and saying to my fears, "You can't take anything from me that will make me give up fighting." Its my "G.I. Jane" statement. The reason I'm going to do it when I'm 40 is because I lost both Uncle John and Mom when they were 40. It did something to me, twisted something inside of me that has me scared of following in those footsteps. I've broken so many of the other negative patterns from our family's past by standing up, choosing faith over fear and stepping in the opposite direction of what my "instincts" tell me, I'm going to do the same here.
4. I'm going to find a way to get involved positively. Walking to raise money and awareness are awesome things. I may even look into it for next year, but I want to do something more personal. I know what it's like to be a child whose lost their Mom to cancer, I want to find a way to help those moms who are dying leave behind something their kids can hold onto as they grow up. I don't know what yet. I have a million scattered fragments of ideas in my head and I am definitely open to suggestions, but that's how I want to get involved.
5. I'm going to take pictures, make recordings, write letters. I'm not going to leave my kids with nothing but memories. So many times, in my childhood, my mom avoided the camera, stayed in the background, kept to herself. There is so much about who she was that I will never know. I don't want that for my kids. I want them to have more, to be confident in my love for them. Regardless of when I die, I want them to know me and to know that I cared enough to know them.