Monday, July 26, 2010

Dave's Solo For The TCC Gospel Choir

Life has been a whirlwind of activity the last few days. I have so much to write about and no time to write. I will have to take some time in the next few days to chip away at the stories to be told and the pictures and videos to be posted.

Last night, although if feels like a week ago, Sarah, Davey, Jackson, Amelia and I went to Dave's gospel choir concert at the Caponi Art Park in Eagan. It is a 60 acre part that apparently has tons of things to see and trails to walk.

Dave had the opportunity to solo last night. He did a great job and I am posting the video below. It was a beautiful night in a beautiful setting.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Roads of Life

(Dante's Prayer) Please click to play

I have to keep writing about life right now. Life, right now, is like an unknown road. It is unfamiliar, and while I know where it is headed, I can't see very far ahead and I keep being surprised by the ups and downs and twists and turns.

I often think of the roads of life and sometimes I give them names. For example, I might name a road Happy Road or Harmony Boulevard or Alive Avenue or Comfort Lane. It just depends on what road I want to be on.

The road I am on now is Cancer Road. It wasn't my choice. I was traveling along, let's say for the enjoyment of my children, Frontage Road. Oh yes, this is how my children know me. Mom takes the frontage road, and they are right! Given a choice, I am a frontage road girl all the way.

Cancer Road is a long and rough road. It is bumpy, hilly, curvy and you never know what is going to be around the bend. You better have your seatbelt on because you never know what you are going to run into. There are signs along the way. Four Chemos. Three Chemos. Two Chemos. One Chemo. You think you have arrived. You think you are home free. You think you have arrived at Post Cancer City. You stop and rest. You take a break until you have to get back on the road called Chemo Crabby Road. You didn't know that road was coming until you found yourself on it.

Chemo Crabby Road comes in disguise and in the dark of night. It is unexpected and piled with turmoil. You are supposed to be happy. You are supposed to have arrived at a better place. And, on Chemo Crabby Road, you actually feel worse than you did on many of the other roads. You look for signs that tell you where you might make a legal U turn and get off this awful road. But, there is no place to turn around. You have to keep going straight ahead.

It is hard. It is exhausting. There is a road that runs parallel to all of these cancer roads. It is always with you. It is called Fatigue Road.

I watch my daughter travel these roads. I travel them with her. Right now she is traveling the Sad Road. She hurts inside. Her tears are locked away. I feel them and they become mine.

I saw a picture of the Tour de France bicycle tour this morning and thought how those bikers' legs must ache as they pedal their way to their destination.

I wish it was my legs that ached on Cancer Road. It isn't. It is my heart.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Little Iron Bench

Sarah and me having lunch after Dr. Zander's appointment

I woke up yesterday morning. It was an ordinary day. The sun was shining, the temperature was cool, the humidity had dropped, the sky was blue, the clouds were white, there was a slight breeze and the birds were singing. The sound of the birds always makes me stop and listen. I wonder what it is they are singing about or are they talking to one another. Sometimes you can hear one call to another, and you wait for the answer, and then.......there it is coming from somewhere off in the distance.

It was an ordinary day, except it was the day I was going to meet Sarah at Dr. Zander's office. Dr. Zander is Sarah's oncologist. Five words. Dr. Zander is Sarah's oncologist. That makes it not an ordinary day.

I took some time before getting ready to read her most recent CaringBridge entry. It was a good entry, a happy entry. It was filled with good things. She and Alyssa, her nanny, had taken the boys to a movie that morning.

When the movie was over, a woman sitting in front of Sarah turned around and spoke to Sarah. She said, "Excuse me, do you have cancer?" Momentarily, Sarah didn't know what to say. She finally said, "Yes, I had cancer." You see, Sarah's cancer has been removed. It was taken out. The cancer was removed when she had her double mastectomy. She sports a bald head now. She wears it everywhere. None of us thinks twice about it. But, it identifies her as having or having had cancer. She is a member of that community now.

The lady and Sarah continued to talk and Sarah shared her CaringBridge site with her. Sarah invited her to go to a cancer support group with her that night. Sarah even picked her up and they talked for a long time after the meeting. The whole story, as Sarah told it, was heartwarming.

It was supposed to make me happy. It was a happy story with a happy ending. I was surprised when I started to cry. There was something about the woman reaching out to Sarah. That was the moment that got to me.

I thought about it. I thought about how cancer patients can recognize another cancer patient out there in the world, and they reach out. There is an automatic bond. All the exterior things that seem to identify us in our normal lives fall away. None of them matter. Cancer touches people no matter what sex, age, color, rich or poor.

I kept thinking about it. And, then I knew. All of a sudden I felt alone, separate, isolated. I thought how wonderful it is to be able to recognize another human being who shares your story. And, what I said to myself was, "A cancer mother can't recognize another cancer mother out in the world, and reach out and say, 'Does your child have cancer?'"

Sarah's happy story touched something that made me cry. I talked with her about it. I didn't know if I should. That feeling was about me. She hasn't had room, until very recently, to know how this has affected those on the outside of her. I told her I read her entry. I told her it was a happy entry. I told her I was glad she had had such a nice experience. And, I told her it made me cry. She said, "Why?"

I told her what it made me feel. We talked. She understood. She cared. We went to lunch. We talked some more. We went to Target to fill her prescriptions from Dr. Zander.

We sat on a little iron bench while the prescriptions were being filled. I thought it was a comfortable little iron bench. She said, "It is iron!" I laughed.

We talked some more. She looked at me and said, "Did you think I might die?" She had asked Dave that question a while back. She said, "I haven't asked you that question." I said, "Yes, I did." She said, "I haven't been able to find my tears, but that makes me want to cry."

The prescriptions were filled. Sarah went to get them and we left the little iron bench, the bench where Sarah and I talked.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Isn't Over

How did this happen? I have not written a post since July 4th, when my world was filled with the ending of Sarah's chemo treatments and sharing fireworks with friends.

It will be four weeks on Thursday, July 15th, since Sarah had her last chemo. That time has been a mixture of feelings for me. I know that feelings never come one at a time. I know they come in multiples. Sometimes, they come so fast a person doesn't know what they are feeling or which feeling to give voice to first. They just live in you like they have taken up permanent residence. Sometimes they feel like univited guests. And, they won't leave until you do something with them.

I don't know for sure why I haven't written. Maybe I wanted everything to be over. Maybe I wanted to believe the hard part was over. Maybe I had so many feelings I didn't know where to start. Maybe I had feelings that were unexpected and I was silenced by their showing up. Maybe I knew there was unexpressed grief. Maybe things had been so busy that I hadn't had time to feel, and now there was, and I didn't want to I didn't.

What made me write today? It has to do with what happened yesterday. I met Sarah at Dr. Miglioris's office. She hadn't seen him for six weeks. She was due for an injection for her reconstructive surgery. But, meeting with Dr. Migliori is so much more than that.

I have to change directions for a few minutes. This is where some feelings are.

I sat in the examining room with Sarah. I hadn't seen her much over the four weeks and I asked her how she was....not like how are you....but how ARE you. She said, "Crabby, really crabby...all the time." I saw it in her eyes. It was like multiple feelings had taken up residence in her body too, and were showing in her eyes. It is true that eyes are the windows to your soul.

When Dr. Migliori came in and she talked to him about how she was feeling, her tears started. He knew. He could finish her sentences. He understood. He said she was right where she was supposed to be in her recovery. He validated her reality...that when she is able to do something and seems to have some the end of the day it is like she falls off a cliff. He said there is no warning and no reserve. He told her it would take a long time. He told her it would take up to two years before she would feel like her old self. He told her it would be gradual and one day she would all of a sudden realize she felt better.

I sat in my chair and watched and listened.....and felt. I think in the last four weeks I let my defenses down. Things slowed down, chemo was over, I started to relax, cautiously, but I started to relax.

I think I took some time off. I think I knew there were feelings that I had to have. I think I didn't want to have them. I think I knew I had to have them. I think I knew I would have them.

I sat in my chair and watched and listened. There was a heaviness in my chest that threatened to show up as tears. I didn't cry. It wasn't the time or the place. I watched my daughter and took notes. And, today I had to write and cry.

We aren't done with this. We only finished some of what we have to do. It isn't over. It is just different.........for now.

Someday, we will all return to a life that will be closer to what we remember. Dr. Migliori said as much. I am going to hold him to his word.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Music In Plymouth 2010 ... Part 2...

I am so excited!! I my last two videos from Music in Plymouth to post.

I have been working on accomplishing this for three days now.

The first video is of the Minnesota Orchestra playing and the second video is the fireworks finale.

I hope you enjoy them! Happy 4th of July!!!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Music In Plymouth 2010

Welcome to Music in Plymouth

The amphitheater reflected in the pond....the Minnesota Orchestra is on the stage

This is a picture of part of the amphitheater, the pond, the reeds, the American flag and the sun is just starting to is a beautiful place

The amphitheater reflected in the the foreground you see Tom on the left and our friend Steve on the right......

My friend Kathy and me

On Wednesday night, June 30, Tom and I went to Music in Plymouth with our good friends, Steve and Kathy.

Music in Plymouth is our annual 4th of July community celebration. It is an event that we have gone to for quite a few years and it simply goes on our calendar as soon as we know when it is scheduled. I think they have to schedule it around the Minnesota Orchestra's schedule, so the dates are never the same.

We invite family and friends to join us, and while only Steve and Kathy could come this year......the four of us were a small but mighty group. Kara and her family are busy getting ready for a graduation open house for Christopher who leaves for the Cleveland Institute of Art this fall, and it would have been way too much for Sarah and family, given that chemo fatigue is playing a big part in Sarah's life right now. And, Adam and family live in SC which just makes it not work for them. Next year.....maybe next year...maybe all of us can be together on that special night.

Music in Plymouth draws so many people. Average attendance is around 15,000 people. Everyone brings tarps, blankets, chairs, loungers, food, drinks (non-alcoholic), and we sit on a hillside and enjoy the setting and the entertainment. They have a number of musical groups that perform and the evening is capped off with a performance by the Minnesota orchestra and an outstanding fireworks display.

I have put some videos on so others can experience a taste of what I am talking about. The videos will be in no particular order because I am not keeping track of what I am doing : ). Sometimes blogger just doesn't cooperate when uploading videos, so I have to do it at odd times and I lose the sequence. I figured "human" is "in" this year and I do "human" really well!

The evening started at 5:00 p.m. and we didn't get home until 11:30 p.m. Enjoy the videos and make sure you have your sound on....there are several fireworks with music videos, a female vocalist that is really nice, some african music, (I am trying to get the minnesota orchestra video uploaded) and I think that is it.....X your fingers I get them all on...I am continuing to try and upload all of I said up above...sometimes blogger foils my best laid plans.

Welcome to my world!