A Yin and Yang Afternoon
Today Toby and I attended a picnic celebrating our friend James, a 17 year old Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor. He was diagnosed with the disease at the turn of the year. He is one of Harry's friends and his mom, Sarah, is one of my dearest buds. This year he had chemo and radiation, lost all his hair, grew it back, and now is in the clear. The party was a thank you from Sarah and James' whole family out to their community for all the blessings and pots of soup and nights someone let the cat out and hugs that had been bestowed upon James' family this year.
I knew quite a few folks, mostly from our days at Harmony School in Occidental. People who know me and my kids and were actually around when Ben had his first serious experience with surgery, brain surgery, over four years ago. Of course, these folks want to know how Ben is and so, I told them. Mostly they were shocked to hear he was back in Philly for another surgery. It's like whiplash how fast the turn around was for this one.
At one point I stood with a few moms who were there for me four plus years ago. Moms who drove down to Oakland to take me out to dinner after Ben had been in the hospital for seven weeks, had had three surgeries and still wasn't healing. They all piled in a car and drove down to take me out for a diversionary dinner at which I learned that not only was I not the only one with a kid who'd spent time in the hospital, but every single one of us had a kid who at one time or another had spent time in the hospital. Every. Single. One.
Toby and I had another stop today. We were attending a gathering at our friends Anna and Dennis' home. Anna fought breast cancer two years ago and they just found four more tumors in her chest. So we gathered to bless her with our words, prayers and songs. I had my guitar with me and I led the group in some beautiful melodies of hope and healing.
Yesterday, just a day after Ben's surgery I felt such overwhelming lack of ambition. I was deflated, like a popped balloon. Looking back over the few weeks preceding the surgery I could add up the anxiety, the anticipation, the dread, the desire for it all to be over. And following that crescendo, Friday the surgery came and went in such a blur (I was truly asleep for most of it) and the relief was so strong to have come through, that Ben was okay, that it was over. The day after is always the day after. It's not a cliche for nothing. My day after was not so horrible, I suppose, but it still took me a bit by surprise.
As Toby and I were leaving James' picnic we got a call from Ben who had spent the whole day in pain. For some reason today was a hard day, but I've been told the third day after surgery is hard. That was today. Full of pain. (Have I mentioned how much I hate being on the other side of the country from my baby who is in pain?) He spent the day in bed. Grandma Joyce came to visit from New York. Dan the concierge brought him a popscicle. He's got his meds, so they're dealing with it. But, sheesh, I'm so tired of the pain...and it's not even mine.
I suppose I tell you all of this because we talked about blessings today at Anna and Dennis'. And Sarah's party was all about gratitude. And truly, when I have some energy I am so totally grateful for my friends, for hugs, for the popscicles and emails the blessings we get from our communities.
But in order to really see the blessings, there seems to be so much pain. Months of chemo or surgical wounds healing. Tears shed by a little brother missing his big brother while he's away. The anxiety and anger that fills my stomach as we wait to hear the results of a test. It feels like too much at times. And yet, I realize it's what life is all about. Every single one of us has wounds and loss and grief and where would we be without each other?
So, thank you for caring about me and thank you for accepting my songs of healing. This is not the end of my story, but I have a sniffly child sitting next to me who needs a hug.