Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chutes and Ladders

"It's my party and I'll  cry if I want to" she sings out loud.

I did some of that today.  A little crying party.  Husband and Batman were at work.  Robin was riding around as the Headless Horseman in World of Warcraft.  I felt myself getting really sleepy, needing my bed.  I went upstairs to my room, crawled in between cream flannel sheets, hugged my pillow and cried.

It's weird the things you think about, like last night when I thought "My last Friday night with Flopsy and Mopsy."  Goofy.

Today I did not have a specific thought that called me back to bed, just the need to hide under the blankets on this gray rainy day.  I cried for a little while, and eventually fell asleep in my self pity.

I had some strange dreams, only one I vividly recalled.  In my dream everything was just as it was; I thought I was awake.  I was in my bed waking from a nap, and looked up to see the rocking chair in my room, gently rocking.  There is no rocking chair in my room, but in my dream there was and it belonged there.

On its own and with no one in it, the old fashioned wooden chair rocked back and forth.  A slow steady rock and I watched it, the me in the dream, and the me watching the dream.  I wondered who it was, that I could not see, rocking there.  I woke up and looked for the chair, then realized it was a dream.

Most of today I felt very sleepy and groggy, and only revived when my cell showed Midge calling.  She and her fiance, 6C, are here to scout places for their wedding in the Napa Valley next Fall.  I answered and the happiness in her voice gave me a respite from the little black cloud that followed me today.

There is nothing specific to this worry or sadness, it just is.  It is not easy, the waiting for what is still so hard to believe is so.  The waiting is the worst.

I am doing my usual MO during stress; I get small and quiet and spare of movement. I find myself drifting in many melancholy directions.

Today I thought about the five stages of grief, as written about by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.  I first learned about this twenty years ago; the book recommended by a hospice worker when my Mom was dying.

The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The order was a little different for me, I started with bargaining in the two weeks waiting for my diagnosis.

"No God, no, don't even tell me this is cancer.  Please.  Please God.  No."

Panic. Panic. Panic. Sh-h-h. I hear a voice say. Sh-h-h. I get quiet. Yeah, I said all kinds of prayers. I focused on white light. I tried to bargain with God. I talked to my boob. I told myself the good ol don't worry about what you don't know until you have somethin to worry about. You know like when you were little and your Dad says for the millionth time to your brother "Don't cry or I'll give you somethin to cry about."  from one of my early blog posts

Then denial was the next stop.

"What do you mean I have breast cancer?  Huh?  What?  That can't be right.  I drink green tea.  I breast fed my boys.  I  eat my vegetables and almonds and take my vitamins.  What EXACTLY do you mean when you say I have breast cancer? As in, I have cancer?  That can't be right.  I don't get sick.  I have always been a healthy person.  I hardly ever catch a cold. 

What do you mean I have breast cancer?  God, this can't be right, this can't be right.  Are they right God?"

Next stop, anger.  That's when I developed such a taste for the eff word and hollandaise.  I couldn't stay there long.  It didn't help.  It didn't change anything.  It made me even more miserable.  I vowed to switch to gratefulness every time I felt anger coming on.

Depression followed each time the bliss of denial was laughed at by reality.  Every diagnostic test, every poke, every time receiving chemo or whipping out Flopsy and Mopsy to get felt up again, was like hearing the diagnosis all over again.

"You have cancer."

Reality cannot be denied as your blood fills a tube to be tested if you can still receive chemo to kill a monster that lurks in your body.

Reality cannot be denied when you attempt to draw in eyebrows, or try to comb hair that really isn't long enough yet to comb. 

Denial runs with its tail between its legs, as reality holds the door open for depression.  Come in.  Little bits.  Little bits I cried leaving the lab, leaving chemo, looking at myself in the mirror, trying on a wig.  Little bits.

Even the good things, another card or blog comment received, sending me love and prayers, triggered tears, gratefulness and then reality again, and opening the door to greet grief.

It will be some time before I reach acceptance.  It will never be ok.  I will learn though, in time, how to live with it, how to embrace what has happened to me and my new life and body.

Many Sisters have said acceptance is a lifelong path.  I can understand that.

It's how I feel about the people I love who died.  You never get over it.  You learn to live with it.  Some times you can be so far out and then the smallest thing happens, a sound or a smell.  You land on that square and you feel solid ground leave as you slide down the chute, and land several spaces back.  You continue on, sometimes landing on a space that leads to a ladder, but more often I think in life, landing on a square attached to a chute.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

When you look at the whole board that represents your life, it's not really about the chutes or the ladders, but those moments when you are standing on a square and committed, despite how the game has gone so far, to move towards the next square.

Sometimes, it is an amazing moment of grace, when what you thought was a chute was actually a ladder, you just didn't know it at the time, cause it felt and looked so much like a chute.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Maybe,

just maybe,

the purpose of this sacred ordinary human life

is about getting to a place of spirit

where you can view every single thing that happens in your life

as a ladder.

A ladder.

3 comments:

Wagonwife Designs said...

This week is one of the hardest. The tears and emotions have a life of their own. GPS would not have helped me navigate way through that land. I am keeping you in my prayers and wishing you nothing but ladders.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweet Lady ~

I am praying that God sends angels upon angels to protect you and your family. I am holding you so close right now; can you feel me hugging you?

xoxox

Donna R. said...

I can't thank you enough for your blog. I have been reading it from the very beginning and working forwards as I am working through my own breast cancer journey. My story is very similar to yours, and so I relate to you very much. I sometimes read your blog late at night when everyone else is asleep just so I don't feel alone - so I know there is someone else in the world who knows how I feel. I listened to your speech that you gave at the Survivorship event recently. I laughed and cried and was so encouraged. Thank you - your time and effort in putting your thoughts and feelings out there into cyberspace are not wasted. I am so grateful for you. Hugs and prayers to you!

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