Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Before & After

I absolutely love this picture of Mom, taken April 6th. We we popped into a David's Bridal and took a look at some Mother of the Bride dresses. We found this one, deeply discounted of course, and had such a laugh imagining her in it.

Because Mom does not like her photo taken, a lot of her posed photos are just that: posed. But this picture captures her pure joy, and I can almost hear her contagious laughter when I look at it. The laughter that my Dad has a knack for bringing forth without much effort, and the kind that causes her to actually shed tears.

As much as I love this picture, it hurts my heart to look at it because it was taken pre-diagnosis. The cancer was there, but we did not know it. Everything was alright.

Today, a student came into my office, visibly upset. He was going through something very similar with one of his parents. When he paused, I said I understand exactly how you feel, and disclosed what was going on with Mom.

It's a statement I've never made before. As a counselor, I can empathize, but never really know what someone else is going through, and never pretend to. Basic counseling skills involve listening, paraphrasing and empathizing before using whatever your trained approach is, often a combination of a few.

I've said I can imagine how hard that must be or I can see how much this hurts you, but I've never said I understand exactly, because I don't think I ever have.

But everything he said was so spot-on, that he could have been reading a monologue that I wrote. I did know how scared he was. I did understand how mad he was, and agreed that it most certainly was not fair. I knew there were no magic words for me to offer up to help make it better. I knew telling him it would be alright or that his parent would be fine wouldn't help. So I listened, and agreed, and set a follow-up appointment. It was all I could do, and hopefully it was something. He sort of smiled before he left, but gave me a hug before he walked away.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Perfect Life

It struck me on the way home that today had been a good day. Yesterday was, too. I was looking forward to picking up my new glasses that I ordered through insurance back in May, making a protein shake, showering since I had managed to get a short run in and then walking down to Mom's. And then I thought of the day before that: our drag brunch in Hollywood and all the laughs and I started counting...and realized that for one whole week, seven consecutive days, I've had good days. We've had good days.

 I told Nathan that I need to soak all of this up, because we don't know what lies ahead, but we have a fairly good idea. They've started her out on a less aggressive form of chemotherapy, and she's only had one dose. After one more treatment, she'll have a scan. And if that's not working, they will increase the dose. And then again. And that's when her quality of life can really start to be affected. But for now, for today, she's good.


In the beginning, right after the impact, I tried to have good days. And it was work, let me tell ya. But somewhere between the faking it for her sake and now, I started actually having good days. I've set the trial for my hair and make-up, started eating healthy again and am going to have a Bachelorette party after all. I realized yesterday while filling in a teacher on Mom's condition, that I was able to do so without crying, and yet I wasn't numb. It's like a fog has lifted. I've been planning fun things with Mom, realizing that it doesn't have to cost money. She seemed to have just as much fun watching Trevi run around like she was on crack at dog beach as she did having high tea on the Queen Mary.

I know more of those other days are ahead, but today is a good day, and I'm going to go with it. Cancer has taken so very much from my family and countless others, but it's not going to take away today. And if that fog should start to creep back in, all I have to do is listen to Moby's new song. Had to think of a tie in somehow, besides my blog title being a Moby song.

 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I knew it was going to be a good day when...

...I saw a man running down the street in his undies.

Have you ever engaged in a conversation with someone before you realized they weren't wearing any pants? Well I have. And it happened this morning. With everything going on with Mom, I have made it a point to 1) get enough sleep 2) exercise and 3) get up earlier to enjoy the morning without being rushed.

I was on a walk with Trevi just as day was breaking. A hint of fall was in the air, and I thought of the turning of the season; my favorite season, fall. Which lead to thoughts of our wedding and me trying to figure out just how many days until we get hitched (72 - but who's counting).

I was lost in thought when a black standard poodle bolted from a house and into the street, playfully running up to Trevi and then darting off as Trevi lunged toward her. Shortly behind trailed the owner, trying to catch the moppy-haired poodle. I asked him if she was still a puppy and as he muttered his answer, I noticed that he had no pants on. And he didn't have boxers on either. These were real undies folks, tidy whities.

As soon as I noticed his lack of pants, I became embarrassed for him and tried to disengage, fixing my gaze on the asphalt ahead of me and saying come on, Trevi! But the poodle had other plans, and chased after Trevi yet again. Just when this poor, half-naked guy probably thought it couldn't get any worse, a car came down the street and had to stop in the middle of the road. As he ran into the street, still trying to catch the dog, my eyes telepathically questioned the two people in the car: are you guys watching this?

He finally caught the precocious poodle and the car continued on its way. I thought the show was over and as Trevi and I were a few houses down, I heard him cry out. I looked back, and here he came, this time in a full-on sprint. As he charged after his dog, I couldn't hold my laughter in anymore. And I knew it was going to be a good day.

I Heart My Poodle Classic Thong
If I had some extra money, I would leave THESE on his doorstep.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A new normal

With the news that Mom's lung cancer has also spread to her adrenal glands and is surrounding her pancreas comes a new-found devastation and obliteration of what little hope I have been clinging to for the last few weeks. Since the diagnosis, people have told me about their friend or relative who beat cancer. But not lung cancer. And not lung cancer that has already metastasized.
Mom has decorated her box of medications that she takes to her appointments.
When Wednesday's appointment was over and we hugged to part ways, Mom gave me a smile and thumbs up saying "Good news, right?" in reference to the fact that they will be starting her on a lower form of chemo at first, rather than one that would make her sicker than a dog right from the start. As you can probably already tell, she's a glass half-full kinda gal. And she's right: that part is good news, so why rob her of that? I smiled in agreement and as she left to have lunch with my Dad and brother, I told her we would pick her up in a few hours for dinner at Brittany's.

As soon as we parted ways, silent tears began to fall. On my way to the parking structure, I found myself alone in the elevator with grey-haired woman in her 70's. I realized that Mom may not make it to her age. I had the strange desire to cling to her and tell her what I had just found out. I pictured this stranger comforting me; telling me it would be okay, like everyone says. Another tear fell as the elevator door opened, and she walked out; unaware of the overly-dramatic imaginary scene that had just played out in my head.

When I got home Nathan found me looking at the statistics I had found online. I know...I'm so very sorry he said, instead of "She will be fine." Right then, it started to sink in. He held me, and I cried. A few hours went by.

I did not want to get out of bed, much less make myself presentable. I told Nathan that I wanted to ask Mom questions, but didn't know what the questions I would want to ask were. I felt a strong desire to document, and was telling him when we have a child, and they reach certain milestones I would want to ask her advice, or ask about me but now realize I wouldn't be able to. I reached out to my former professor's wife Lorraine for some questions. She worked in hospice for years, and helped my friend Stephanie and I start running grief groups from a Narrative perspective. She wrote:
Remember that her voice will always, always be there with you -- no matter what. If you don't get every last question in now, and there comes a time when she cannot or does not want to talk, you will still be able to access the answers. And you have many others who will help channel her voice for you, for your children and for the rest of your life.....So ask what you can now, maybe record it with audio or video so you don't have to worry about recalling everything, and then trust she will never leave you. Even when she is not here physically.
We went to Brittany's and of course she had everything prepared in such a lovely way. She was warm and welcoming and for the first time in awhile, I thought again of our wedding because she showed my Mom and I some sample paper for our program that she's working on. And then, after dinner, she presented us with the most thoughtful gift I have ever received: a Treasured Passages mother-daughter story book, which coincidentally seems to be from a Narrative perspective.. Of course it made me cry, but I held back somewhat for Mom's sake. It was exactly the thing I had been wishing for, but didn't realize I needed. It will be the perfect tool to use to do the work that Lorraine described and help spark the conversations to help me learn new details about her; new details to one day share with my children.

My emotions are so in-flux right now. I go from being sad, to angry, to thankful all within the span of an hour. Mostly, I just want to cry and be sad. But not Mom. She is the most positive, strong person that you will ever meet. Although I was crying inside, being at Brittany's and seeing Nathan play with her baby; watching Mom watch them interact and smile almost allowed us to have a normal evening. It's a new normal, but one that we need to enjoy nonetheless. Mom usually hates being videotaped, but she didn't say anything this time. I feel fortunate to have THIS video of the night, and plan to have more to save and enjoy for years to come.

When I dropped her off, she told me as we were standing alone, outside in the darkness by the mailboxes that she is comforted knowing that I am so well taken care of by Nathan. She brought up the fact that some children get cancer and they never have a fair shot at life; it's over before they know it. She still had a smile on her face. I hugged her and told her I would see her in the morning. And for now, I have that. I have today, and tomorrow and the next day. And as hard as everything is, it is something to be thankful for.