Pondering Death’s Visit and Living Your Truth

I’m having surgery in 4 days. Last week I met with the 2 surgeons performing the surgery. They are kind and personable and explain 0handsmedical terms in a way that a non-medical person can understand. They are respected in their field and are very good at what they do.

The main surgeon who is doing the more tricky parts told me he’d be treating me as if I were his wife or sister on the operating table. He’s talked to numerous other doctors to get their input. He’s studied my case, my files, my test results. He is confident and meticulous and if ever during the surgery there is a question, there are many, many colleagues he can call on for advice or assistance.

“But,” he told me, “I am not God.”

That was refreshing to hear because some surgeons do believe they are God. This I knew was the lead-up to him telling me what could go wrong during surgery. He said he had to tell me these things; not to make me worry or make me think these things would definitely happen, but to make me aware, to be honest, and to see that medicine is not a perfect science and things can go wrong.

“Of course,” I said.

He decided to start off with the worst-case scenario. I suppose it is best to get that out of the way. I mean, once that one is out of the way, all the other things that could go wrong seem quite insignificant.

“I have to tell you this. There is a an infinitesimal chance that death could occur. I mean, a 1% chance.”

I noted how he said it, I suppose to soften the blow. He didn’t say, “You could die,” which is what he meant, but he said it in a more passive way, like Death could possibly float into the room, say hello and go along his way.

Hearing it was unsettling. However, I understand it’s not very likely that it will happen. And the truth is, we could die at anytime for a multitude of reasons. It’s just a bit more worrisome knowing you are putting yourself in that position by choice (although a choice that is necessary for my quality of life).

When one has a child the prospect of death becomes a million times more sobering. In our younger, carefree days, we feel immortal, we don’t worry about death. Even I, who grew up with a chronic illness, did not feel threatened by being mortal. Now, however, the warning that my doctor gave me has been stuck in the front of my brain.

I talked to friends and asked them if I was insane or overreacting for wanting to write my son a letter,  a sort of goodbye, telling him how much I love him and always will and what I wish for him. Everyone said that I should certainly do that, if only to purge those thoughts and to take that worry from my mind.

I’ve started the letter about ten different times and have already written the words in my head for what feels like a thousand times. Each time I do; however, my eyes start stinging from the tears. Of course I don’t want to leave my son behind. And I won’t be! I think about those poor mothers or fathers who have terminal cancer and know they are dying and are going to leave their children behind. That is heartbreaking. I am grateful that my condition is nowhere near as serious as that.

Illness changes a person. You have a different outlook on life. You figure out your truth and try your best to live by it. I realize the importance of living with passion and getting my feelings all out there. I can see the frailty of life. So, while I’m confident this letter will not be read by my son next week, it will surely be a great reminder of what I want to share with him, teach him and how to guide him. My hope is to raise him and to make him feel loved and cherished and teach him what I think is important and let him flourish in whatever ventures he chooses. It also reminds me what I need to share with all those I care about.

I tell my son every day that I love him. I hug him and kiss him. He’s little and loves it now, and I will continue to do that until the day I die. I won’t embarrass him in front of his friends, but I will not stop showing him how much he means to me, no matter how annoying it gets to him. Every child goes through those years of rebellion and breaking away from his parents. But once he grows out of that stage, my hope is that he’ll remember how I never gave up on him, no matter how shitty he could sometimes act (because all teenagers are a bit crazy…or a lot crazy). I’ll still love him, no matter what.

For me, the greatest trait a person can possess is kindness. I’m not talking about wimpiness or a walk-all-over-me attitude,  but I wish for my son to possess a light that shines in his heart which pushes him to help his fellow human beings (friend or not) and would never allow him to hurt someone else on purpose. I already see this in him, but I will continue to teach him through my own actions and through discussions about his life experiences on how important it is to keep that light burning. If we are to leave a mark on this world, shouldn’t it be to make it a better place?  I want my son to be known as a good guy – sensitive, generous and sincere. We’ve all been knocked down, whether by illness or abuse or bullying or poverty or  prejudice. Everyone carries around their own share of pain. Isn’t it time to be kinder, be the bigger person and not perpetuate the hate?

It’s not aways easy to be kind, and that is why it takes courage. My wish is for my son to have courage and strength. He should stand up for what he believes in. He should stand up for anyone who is getting bullied or harassed. And most important of all, he should have the courage to show his feelings. I understand the courage that it takes, because the fear of rejection is strong. Also, you don’t know how the other person will react; most crushing can be when someone doesn’t react at all. However, in this one life we are given, we should not squander our feelings, but instead share them boldly. Secrets can diminish us, but those that speak their truth can stand proud in knowing they are not holding anything back.

I want him to discover his passions and live them. He’s 6 now, so he wants to be everything from an opera singer, spy, magician, superhero, video game designer and an architect. As he grows, he will discover what really excites him and makes his pulse race. I would never dictate what that should be. I will certainly be unwavering in my desire for him to have a passion for learning, because that’s where it all begins. From there, he can see where his talents lie and what he wants to do with them. I hope he sees my tenacity and learns the importance of never giving up. With dreams, goals and hard work, one can accomplish whatever they desire.

I wish for him to have true-blue friends. Of course this means that he needs to be a true-blue friend. He doesn’t need a ton of them, but a special few that share his interests and values, friends that can make him laugh and friends that encourage him to think about things differently. He should be loyal and forgiving and love them like family. True friends help you when you fall, and in our lives there are plenty of times when we need a little help.

My little boy will grow up and fall in love. He will probably have his heart broken numerous times, but when the time is right I hope he finds “the one” partner for him. Whomever he dates and ultimately chooses, he needs to show that kindness in his heart, communicate well, love with everything he’s got, be a gentleman and cherish and protect the heart he holds. He needs to know when to say “I’m sorry,” and love passionately. He needs to have patience and gratitude and never give up on that person. And hopefully, by showing him all the love I have for him and what a great person he is, he will know what he deserves – someone that will cherish him as much as I do.

I don’t think it’s bad to ponder the frailty of life and let it guide you. Although your ideals may be much different than mine, I believe it’s important to know what those ideals are. What message are you giving to the world? Are you living and loving with passion? Are you sharing your truth, your soul? I don’t want Death to visit me for a long, long time. But when he does, I don’t want there to be anything in me left unspoken.

Metropolis

I’ve been singing the chorus to this song in my head for the last month or so. While I’m not sure if The Church are singing about Superman’s Metropolis, after listening to the whole song today I was reminded as to what a wonderful tune it is.

Speaking of Superman, I’m looking forward to seeing The Man of Steel almost as much as my little boy. If you were to ask my son who his favorite superhero is he will answer with a resolute, “Superman!” If you were then to ask him why that is he’ll say, “Because he’s got the best powers and helps people by defeating the bad guys.”

I think the obsession boys have with superheroes is innate, and at one point in their lives all boys want to be the hero. I suspect very few boys have never tied a towel around his neck and pretended he was saving the world. As far as superheroes go, Superman is an icon and the ultimate defender of those in peril.

I think he’s a pretty good fictional hero to look up to. And I hope my son will want to remain a hero in his own way forever.

I feel too much

“I feel too much. That’s what’s going on.”

basquait

“Do you think one can feel too much? Or just feel in the wrong ways?”

“My insides don’t match up with my outsides.”

“Do anyone’s insides and outsides match up?”

“I don’t know. I’m only me.”

“Maybe that’s what a person’s personality is: the difference between the inside and outside.”

“But it’s worse for me.”

“I wonder if everyone thinks it’s worse for him.”

“Probably. But it really is worse for me.”

~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Girlhood crushes

I thought I’d write about my celebrity crushes of childhood. Walking down memory lane, it seems I didn’t have a “type” so much, but there is certainly an evolution. Growing up in the 70s/80s made for some interesting lads to have “feelings” for.

Certainly my first crush was Davy Jones! I adored the Monkees, and what girl didn’t love his cute accent and mad tambourine skills?

Image

Luke! He was the hero of the biggest movie of my young childhood….

Image

…Until I realized that the cool, sexy ruffian Han Solo was much dreamier.

Image

Which brings me to Indy. 🙂

Image

I can’t completely explain this one other than my friend Nadine and I were smitten. I mean, he is good-looking. His character wasn’t the brightest, but at 10 I didn’t care much about that. I still have the General Lee Matchbox car. 🙂

Image

Then the 80s and Mtv came into full-swing and the androgynous look amongst men was very popular. Pretty sure my dad made lots of comments about these pop-stars who wore make-up.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

And then….The Brat Pack Happened.

crushh5

Image

crushjudd

crushdowney

crushrob

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” 🙂

crushh6

Swoon.

crushh3

I’ve watched “Rebel Without a Cause” countless times. ❤

crushhdean

Sting.

crushh7

Which brings me to high school in which the full-on crush began (and continues) for Bono.

crushbono

Upon further reflection, I see my crushes were quite diverse and included stars who were boyishly handsome, ruggedly handsome, make-up wearing 80s pop stars, “bad boy” actors, brooding actors, sensitive actors, and amazingly talented musicians.  Not bad. I can proudly say I was never into “The “Coreys” or boy bands. All in all, I think the late 1970s-80s was a great time for movies, music and television and that rite of passage of growing up: Crushes.

Come Swim with Me in a Sea of Narcotics

Hi. I hope I got your attention. I wanted to remind you how the strength of your title can grab your reader.

I initially thought of this subject when reading some “Freshly Pressed” blogs yesterday. I came across this post:

“I Sold My Fat Jeans on eBay and Now I Want Them Back”

I read that title and immediately started cackling (which made my dog look at me weird, jump off my bed, army crawl under the bed and hide there for two hours). Anyway, what a brilliant title! It certainly caught my attention. I read the post which is a very well-written piece about a woman’s struggle with weight-loss. She hooked me and I was glad she did because it was a very relatable article. And, seriously, that title is amazing.

Let’s go back to the title of my post. It kind of sounds like it could be the title of a song, or perhaps an invitation. I apologize profusely if you believed that I actually have a sea of narcotics and was asking you, kind reader, to join me for a swim. Sadly, I do not own said sea. However, I will tell you how I came up with that title. Next week I’m having pretty major surgery to repair some strictures in my digestive tract caused by my Crohn’s Disease. I’m not jumping for joy to have this done, but I can’t wait to feel “normal” again. While meeting with my surgeon today he told me I looked worried. I told him that I was worried about the pain after surgery.

(There have been studies done on how redheads generally need more anesthesia and pain meds than non-gingers. Something to do with our DNA. No, I don’t get it either.)

I don’t know if my hair is the culprit, but I am not a wuss and have fought through awful pain at various times during most of my adolescent and adult life. But, in the past, specifically 20 years ago when I  had my last surgery, my doctor denied me stronger doses of morphine and other pain medicine. He actually said, “This should be a high enough dosage for someone your size.” It’s very frustrating when you feel like no one is listening to you or believes the level of pain you’re in and won’t help you out to dull that pain. I wasn’t asking to take a wheelbarrow full of morph home with me, I just wanted to feel semi-comfortable after being cut open. I told my surgeon that I was afraid that would be the case nest week.

He looked at me and said, “Stop. I don’t want you to worry about this anymore. Pain therapy has come a long way in 20 years. And we will have you swimming in a sea of narcotics.”

Of course this had me laughing (luckily my dog wasn’t there to give me strange looks) and I was relieved that I wouldn’t be denied. I mean, during my day-to-day life I am not drugged up, but I feel that after enduring a major surgery I should be allowed to dive in, float, swim and sink to the bottom of that sea of narcotics. It may end up being the best week of my life!

It’s also funny what inspires us to write, isn’t it? I suppose I could have used that title to write a poem about swimming in narcotics; perhaps I will be better equipped to do that after next week.

Keep creating! 🙂

feel it, boys and girls

I'm a girl. And I like it that way.

I’m a girl. And I like it that way.

So, I Pinterest (is that officially a verb now, like “I Googled it.”?). Welp, I’m making it a verb today. I like looking up inspirational quotes, beautiful pictures and fancy-shmancy recipes that I’ll never attempt to make. While wasting a bit of time today, I came across this picture and quote by Zooey Deschanel (she’s quite lovely, no?). I love how she describes femininity and the courage it takes to be vulnerable. So many times in my life I’ve been called “oversensitive,” “too nice,” that I “feel too much,” and that “my head is in the clouds.” These comments have always made me feel less, that somehow I’m weak for feeling things.

As writers and readers and artists and creators, I’m sure we can all relate to feeling too much and being criticized for it. Our heads are crowded with thoughts. Our hearts feel two sizes too big for our chest. The beauty and intimacy of enjoying a glass of wine with our friends makes us want to cry in happiness. The gigantic and hollow aura of an empty room can make us crumple in sadness.

Although females are criticized for feeling, males really get the brunt of it. To me, seeing a man cry is one of the greatest signs of strength. If a man trusts me enough to express his feelings like that, it’s an intimate moment that can never be taken away. It does take courage to be vulnerable. And damn it, all humans should feel everything. Hemingway, probably the antithesis of femininity, said this: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

Sadly, those virtues destroyed the very man who said those beautiful words. He felt and lived and wrote with abandon. But, he drank too much and suffered from depression and paranoia; we’ll never know what he was thinking in those last few moments in the space between living and ending it all. This manly creature who lived with such vigor, died probably feeling lonely and tired. Sometimes feeling everything can sap the marrow from your bones.

I’ve been guilty of closing myself off to avoid pain, but I refuse to do that anymore. In this life don’t you want to feel it all: the ugliness, the beauty, the sensuality, the love, the kindness, the loneliness, the connections, the heartbreak – everything? And yes, those feelings can destroy you. However, my creative friends, maybe by writing all those feelings down and sharing them with the universe makes it all a little less heavy. And isn’t it thrilling to read something that makes you say, “Wow, I feel that way, too”? Or even better, how about someone commenting on a piece you scrawled out, telling you how it moved him, made him feel something or that it touched him deep inside his soul? That would feel pretty damn amazing.

I think art is meant to save us. It may take us to the brink of destruction while we create it, but the end product is a purging of all that messed-up , crazy and beautiful raw pulp inside of us, just waiting to be released and shone onto others. And within that release, our souls are freed to create once again.

as the willow waves goodbye

If you don’t move then I won’t,
I’ll hold my breath if you hold on;
This love seems to be leaving,
waving like the leaves on the willow;
Just stay with me and pretend
that the ripened fruit that I held,
that was once so juicy and sweet
is not all rotting in the corner;
I covered it with a lovely rug.
Remember when we pretended back then,
that I was your muse and you adored me?
I think we played it off quite well,
So well that I started to believe it.
That’s what happens to a pisces, perhaps;
Too many dreams and not enough action.
I guess I don’t need to do a thing,
just let go and float away.