I am a 40-year-old mother of two, diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer in August 2012. Before my diagnosis, I knew nothing about cancer. This blog is the story of a journey that I never dreamed I would have to take.
Friday, July 5, 2013
What I Hope for You
Don’t worry about the size of your ring.
Keep your wedding in a healthy perspective.
If possible, live with the person before you marry him or her.
These are just a few of the several ideas I came up with a few nights ago as I sat snuggled between two strangers in a middle seat of the commuter train.
I was bursting to write a lighter post, not only because so much of what I've written lately has been heavy, but also because Brian and my fast-approaching wedding anniversary had me thinking a lot about love and marriage (they go together like a horse and carriage...love and marriage...).
So I thought I'd write down a few pieces of advice for my kids—small thoughts for them to consider as they grow up andexperience love and heartbreak and all of the complexities in between.
I made a list, but it wasn't making me feel alive like my writing usually does, and by the time my train pulled into Canton Junction, I blatantly didn't like the way it sounded. Sure, if my kids followed my list of advice, they may be spared some future pain or, if they were lucky, years from now they may more quickly find a happier reality. But being human, especially when it comes to love, seems more about feeling a whole bunch of different emotions, figuring out what to do with them, and becoming more of who you want to be along the way. In other words, what good would it be to tell my daughternot to care about the size of her ring? Those words were empty, and could onlybe filled by my teaching her why carats don’t really matter; how she would be so much more fulfilled if she focused on something else. (Please note: There is one exception to this don't-care-about-the-ring rule and she knows who she is. Her ring does matter to her, but in the most sincere, sweet, and healthy of ways. And, she has an awesome ring.)
In the end, that list of love advice just wasn't me. Still, I want to write about what Ihope for my kids when it comes to love and, if they so choose, marriage. So here goes.
For My Kids...
What I Hope for You
Your Dad and I had planned that he would join me for myHerceptin treatment this past Wednesday morning. We arranged your fabulous babysitter to come early and when we tucked you in bed the night before, we told you that we would see you a few hours after you woke up. Yep, your parents had a date at Dana-Farber so I gave your Grandmom the day off—her first one in almost a year of appointments and infusions.
Then, Tuesday night after Teddy's bedtime questions about the Red Sox and I-love-you-so-much-s finally ceased, your Dad and I got into a huge fight. For afew minutes, we yelled and swore and scoffed at each other’s snide comments. Itwas not exactly how either of us were hoping to start our weddinganniversary weekend.
As you know, your Dad and I don’t fight often, but we’re human, and marriedfor seven years, so every now and then, we have a bad night. We make a conscious effort not to fight in front of you, so you may be wondering why I would decide to air this dirty laundry to the world, especially in a post about love and marriage. Ironically, it's because I want you to know what I reallythink about those topics.
I was so mad at your father a few nights ago that I wished he wouldhave slept on the sofa. But he went to bed before I did so I had to suck it up andsleep next to him. I struggled to fall asleep (like you, Teddy) and as I noticed how soundly he was sleeping (like you, Annabel), I got even more mad at him.
The next morning, after several of Annabel's I-can-climb-out-of-my-crib-now nighttime visits, I rolled over and told your Dad that I wanted to go to my infusion alone. At that moment, I really did want that. More importantly, however, I wanted to show myself, and him, that I could do that. All alone, I could walk into that building that once scared me so much and I could sit in that chemo infusion suite surrounded by empty chairs and I could be strong and content. Alone and alive. Plus, I have a blog, so without bending my right arm (which causes the IV machine to beep in extreme discontent), I could use my laptop to dump on your father for the whole world to see (kidding on that last part).
Which brings me to the first thing that I hope for you when it comes to love—that in theend, if you find yourself alone, either by your making or someone else's, you will figure out a way to be strong and content. Alone and alive. I know, it doesn't sound all that romantic, but really it is. Because I hope that above all, you love yourself. Not in a snobby or egotistical way, or in a way that brings you stubborn loneliness, but in a way full of healthy confidence, forgiveness, and above all, respect.
Which brings me back to last Wednesday morning when Teddy was still snuggled among his 55 stuffed animals and Annabel was still patting her blankie. I left the house that morning alone, calm and collected,with my bag and my earphones and the confidence to get my infusion alone.I knew my Mom would pinch hit if I had called her but I didn’t want that. Atthat moment, I wanted to do it all by myself. Ironically, despitethat she’s always there for me, in the end, I know my Mom wanted to raise her kids to be able to do just that.
Despite that he was equally as angry at me, as I filled my car's empty gas tank just down the street from our house, your Dad called me and asked (begged) me to come back. I had absolutely no intention of turning around, but forsome reason, I did.
Me and your Dad didn’t say a word to each other the whole ride into Boston. In fact, aside from me giving him my omlet order, we didn't talk during my infusion either. Your Dad just read his little magazine and I thought about my love and marriage blog as my life-saving Herceptin dripped intomy veins.
Your Dad and I made up, as we always do when finally he admits he was wrong (kidding). But we spent a solid day pretending that we liked each other in front of you two.
Which brings me to my other hope for both of you when it comes to love and marriage. I hope that while you could be happy alone, that ultimately, you find someone to walk, skip, and sometimes, trudge through life with. I hope that you find someone who, even when you don't like her, you know that you love her very deeply. I hope you find someone like your Dad, who wouldn't ever let me be alone for something even slightly painful or scary. Because you know you found the right person when you're so mad at him that you don't even look at him when he tries to talk to you, but inside, you're so very grateful that he's still sitting next to you.
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One final thing. When I gave the Preview version of this blog post to Brian to read before I published it, I asked him if he was OK with what I wrote. He was absolutely OK with it, and insisted that I write whatever I feel I need to write (though he also insisted that he hadn't fallen asleep before me on Tuesday night). Which reminds me; I forgot to say one thing about love—try to find someone who will support you when you do the crazy things in life that, for some reason you can't even explain, you really feel you need to do.