Monday, January 24, 2011

Trail of Crumbs

I thought it was cute that my Duncle Dody said that when I walk in the forest, I should leave a trail of crumbs like Hansel and Gretel so if I fall or something again, you would be able to find me.

I stayed on sidewalks today, walking through the subdivisions next to ours, past all kinds of neat track homes, each with their own little touch in yards that otherwise would have looked the same.  There are flags and fountains, lawn ornaments and flower beds, and mini vans with car seats parked in driveways.

I saw a bumper sticker on one of them today that I thought I must tell you about.

What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?

Like most subdivisions, most of the neighborhoods are deserted, left for the day by commuters who won't return till dinner.  The occasional car passes, but I rarely see anyone while out on my walk of the side streets.

I begin with my headset on, to get revved up, shuffling songs I've downloaded on my nano Ipod.

Then for most of the walk, I take the headset off so I can listen to what's around me.
Happy busy birds.
Breezes tickling wind chimes.
Bare drooping branches of willow trees making percussion, like a brush on a drum when jazz is played.

The sun was hot on my face as tears spilled into the corner of my lip, and I could taste their saltiness like the ocean.

There are aches and grief and stress and fear that my body has been carrying for me, and with each step, I release a few, falling off me, littering the sidewalks.

When I was in treatment, I was focused on getting through it and getting it done. I couldn't completely process the magnitude of this while trying to accomplish the magnitude of treatment.  I couldn't allow myself the fullest expression of the grief or hurt or fear or disbelief as it transpired.

In the quiet and the hindsight of these solitary walks, I am processing now, debriefing after this mission, working through it and letting it go.

I don't need to worry about dropping little crumbs.  You will find me if you follow the trail I'm leaving behind, the memories and the milestones, the glory and the glitches, neatly folded like origami, falling out of my pockets, or kissed and thrown into the air like when you release a dove.

On the street, on the sidewalk, in the gutters, hanging from trees, pieces of my journey, I am leaving behind.

Look for them and follow.  That is how you will find me.  Unwrap some, this is what you will see and hear.

You have cancer Debbie.
How do I tell my children?
Your tumor is 5 cm.
You are Stage III.
You can count on your treatment taking the next year of your life.
We will need to remove your left breast, you may want to consider removing both.
Your lymph nodes are involved.
You will need five months of chemotherapy.
You will lose your hair.
Your port is tangled up inside you, we need to do surgery again and put another one in.
Your second port is getting infected, it needs to come out.
Your PICC line has failed.
You will need six weeks of radiation.

There is a reason I push so hard and walk so long each day.

I have to.

I need to release my body of all this baggage carried in its obedient duty to me.  All the months it stored these thoughts and feelings and reality in muscles and tissue and cells, taking over when my brain was overloaded with the gravity of cancer.

Thank you for all the times you came here to listen,
and still do now,
following my trail of the things I leave behind.
I follow the trail,
the one you left for me in case I forgot how to get back home
from this place I have been.

There were many nights
I would have given up,
if not for the candle in the window
you lit each night for me.

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