Sunday, February 16, 2014
It's been a while
I am in the midst of the clarity that a cleanse brings. The clarity that often gets muddied by sugar, caffeine, alcohol and refined foods. Most of us have no idea there is a light layer of fog we live through, because it is always there. When I was explaining the cleanse to a friend and I said, "it feels like light is shining through every cell in your body." My partner Dre said, "well, I don't know that I'd describe it like that, but it does feel pretty good."
I do this cleanse a couple of times a year to press the reset button on my life. It slows me down and simplifies everything. I eat the same foods every day for five days. It builds blood, cleanses the small intestine, releases toxins stored in the fat cells, nourishes the digestive system, and quiets the mind. It gets me radically in touch with all of the ways that I use food to medicate my emotions and life. The clarity helps guide me.
Since I last wrote, my son started middle school, my daughter started fourth grade, I found out my mom had ovarian cancer right before her 67th birthday, found out I had to move, celebrated the holidays, celebrated both of my children's birthdays (11/10 & 1/16), my partner's birthday (11/19), my birthday (1/4), and traveled back and forth to Texas several times, amidst living life.
Sheesh, when I look back on those six months I see a lot of life that has occurred. Each life event could take up pages here. And yet, I find myself almost speechless to put into words how I have been managaing and holding up through it all. It hasn't totally let up either. Just last week when the glorious rains came through, our basement flooded. This morning when I talked to my mom, I heard her unsteady chemo voice about the treatments that will last every week thru March 24. I hear the pain my step dad has been in, with his own journey toward health; he just recently was hospitalized with a whole host of problems and in the end has stopped drinking after a lifeitme of turning to alcohol as a friend.
We all have stuff. We all have events in our lives that demand we tune in. Part of why I haven't written, is because I haven't been able to face the page and write about my mom's cancer. Now that she is on the other side, now that her doctor has used the word remission, and she's doing preventative chemotherapy, instead of survival chemotherapy, maybe now I can put fingers to the keys and type about life once again.
On October 8th at 10:48 am, I got a text from my mom that read, "I'm home and have answers. It is ovarian. Do you want to call me or I can text what I know so far." I was teaching yoga. I knew my mom had a doctors appointment that morning and thought if she was texting, it would be good news. While my students were in savasana, I looked over at my phone and read my mom's text. My knees buckled and I almost fell down. I walked out of the room, leaned against the wall, and slid down. Questions were spinning in my head and emotions were welling up inside of my body. I was not able to go back in the studio and finish my class. I tried, but the tears had already begun to flow and I couldn't speak.
When my mom started having various symptoms, the prospect of cancer, had definitely arisen in my thoughts. In fact, I'd thought it a million times while we were waiting to find out what was causing her fatique, distention of her belly, her sensitivity in her abdomen, and digestive issues. But when the cancer was made real, none of the thinking I had done prepared me for what it would feel like to be faced with my mom's mortality.
Facing my mom's death was profound. It put so many things in perspective. Inconsequential problems in my life vanished and supporting my mom's fight for her life took total precedence. And yet, she lives in Houston and I live in Berkeley. My sister is there for all of the daily help. I am so very grateful for her that she has been able to support my mom through this time.
Luckily, I have been able to go visit my mom several times and care for her: both during her first rounds of chemo and after her surgery. During those visits my mom and I talked a lot. During those talks we healed. We cried. We talked about her death. We talked about her life. I got to experience how incredibly strong my mom is and watch her face her cancer head on and be in the truth of each day.
My mom has had more than her fair shair of struggles for one life time. Many of those struggles I witnessed my mom burying her head down, not facing reality, and feeling victimized. However, this was different. I got to see my mom's warrior side. I got to see my mom look death in the face and talk about her fears, her regrets, her sadness, and her gratitude. It was incredibly humbling to share this with my mom through tears and laughter. There was nothing that I could say that would change the outcome or even make anything better. That, in and of itself, made me realize the importance of just being close and sharing the pain with my mom. Since I could not change anything, I spent time listening and loving and fighting along her side.
Life without regrets
My mom told me, "As your mom, I want to tell you to live your life without regrets." This has stuck with me. I hear the sadness of her own regrets and the hope for my life that somehow I will be able to live my life in a way that at the end, I can look back and leave with peace.
How do we do that? How do we live each day without wishing for any of it to be different? How do we make the changes that we need to make, close the doors we need to close, and push forward with peace?
Now my mom has a chance for a new beginning. She is in remission and after March 24th will be done with chemotherapy. Ovarian cancer has a 80 - 90 % chance of recurrence. Just this morning when I was talking to her she was telling me about her anxiety of recurrence. She said sometimes the anxiety quells and quiets for a couple of hours before it raises it's ugly head. She will have to live her life with that in the background.
She does get to live longer though. She will have more days ahead to spend rebuilding her life with Jim. She will have more days of watching her grandchildren grow. I am already planning for her to come to Berkeley for an extended trip and hang out with me and my family. I am counting down the days actually. She will get to join the church choir again that brings her so much joy. She will get to garden and pull weeds. She will get to spend countless hours of time with my sister and her family. Each day will be a gift. She will get to love on her favorite companions Libby and Gibson.
It is all temporary
The truth is, life for all of us is temporary. Relationships are often temporary. So many of the things we have, that we cling onto so dearly, are temporary. Many of us live life as if we are permanent. We make decisions based on this belief. Sometimes we even forget to be impeccable with our word, because we think there will always be another chance. And yet, this is not the truth.
I just had this conversation with my dear friend, who is living with metastisized cancer, the other day. She said, "we are all going to die. I just happenened to know what is going to be the thing that kills me."