Sunday, July 02, 2017

other numbers and gratitude and humility and love

When I was a little girl, my grandparent's church put on an old time Vaudeville show. I don't remember anything about it, but that it reminded me of Dudley Do Right cartoons and I had a role in the show. Not a huge role. Barely any role at all. Time passed. That was my role. My entire purpose that night was to walk across the stage with a clock. Not just any old clock, but a colorful plastic toy clock all of us grandkids had played with at one time or another.
I was so nervous. All I had to do was hear the words "time passed" bellowed out, and take my walk across the stage. I was so excited, and nervous that I carried the clock upside down. Everyone howled extra loud, because I probably screwed up my face in some odd fashion like I normally do when I am feeling self conscious, and I couldn't even play time right side up.

I'm here in my makeshift bed, hearing the click of the medication being rhythmically dripped down into Dom's arm, and his own soft rhythmic breath.

I was almost asleep.

And then the realities set in. And my heart started beating a little faster. And my eyes fluttered open. And I recognize that Dom and I are in this place I never could have calculated we would be in. I feel an ache of gratitude. A press on my heart.

Just as I was settling in to this new normal; this daily anticipation of what his numbers will be, will he need blood, platelets, potassium? Will his White Blood Cells rally and build back up? This new normal of stumbling down the hall in my jammies to use the loo all bleary eyed and disheveled and saying hello to people at their work. We'd found a rhythm, Dom and I. A nap after the morning doctor visit. An outing to move the car. I'd compartmentalized the treatment, and decided he will be better. And one day at a time, together, he and I will get there.

And then he shaved his head last night. And we both had to sit with that in our own ways. It makes it a little more real. I think he's just as handsome as ever. His eyes freed up to take center stage. (Because that hair. What could compete with that hair!) Another lovely friend of ours walked through this cancer with a friend, and shaved her head in solidarity. I asked Dom if he'd like me to do the same, and he said please no. To be honest, that's a relief.

And I cracked open facebook, and realized our dear friend had launched a Gofund Me campaign. We knew that somewhere down the road, we'd need help. We knew that friends were interested in helping us with raising funds, had suggested long before I'd even wrapped my mind around the situation that we could not do this on our own.

I'm stubborn.

And oh the pride of doing it on our own.

And I have done it on my own. I have found myself in a series of bad decisions where to pay back a debt, I looked like Pluto tightening his belt in a Disney cartoon. I cut out everything I could, and threw money at a monster debt until I killed it. I did work trades for extra things took on whatever jobs came up. It's something I'm actually quite proud of. And even then, there were gifts along the way. I really did not do it on my own.

But when the social worker came in the day we were completely sleep deprived and in shock and felt like that was a good time to ask us how we'd handle all the worst case scenarios, I started calculating what I had in my bank and what I could sell, and then I just let it all drift into the nethersphere, because though I don't have a solid plan of action, I have the knowledge that I will do everything in my power to get us to the finish line.

And it's a funny thing my friends. Dom and I have both been working really hard toward working more. He was filling his calendar with photo work, and I was filling mine with substitute teaching yoga. I was being considered for a regular teaching position. I was fingerprinted and TB tested to start volunteering at a non-profit school for kids who can't make it in regular school, and are mostly foster children and so badly in need of so many things. He and I were feeling really good. It's like that scene in a movie when a couple is just too happy, and they're in the back seat of a taxi smiling at each other, and the car slams into a wall and the scene fades to black and opens back up with a heart beat, then bright lights and chaos.

The whys come in like high tide, and I turn my back on them until they recede with the ocean. I cannot understand why, just now, and I don't need to. I may never understand why. I am comforted by the words of E.M.  Forrester in his novel A Room With a View; “By the side of the everlasting Why there is a Yes--a transitory Yes if you like, but a Yes.”

I don't know all the whys of why receiving sends me into a panic. I don't know why every time a friend, or even a stranger shares the link our friend created to help us makes me want to hide like a child under the piano. But it does. It humbles me to my core, and it's so much easier to receive as child. I dance around the Gofund me. I have my hands over my eyes, and I just sneak a peek. One day, I will remove my hands and chin up. Because each share, each gift, each expression of love is a Yes. Yes to us. Yes to life. Yes to love.

And I suppose I had that flashback to that day oh so very many years ago, because I feel like that little scamp in braids, with missing teeth even, doing her one bit clumsily. And nervously. And maybe upside down or backwards. And wishing that time passing could be as easy as walking a clock across a stage.

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