Posts Tagged ‘Breast Cancer’

The View from the Middle

March 15, 2011

Did you ever read the stories about the Moffat Family by Eleanor Estes? I read them aloud when the girls were little. Every character in the family was lovable, but my favorite was Jane, The Middle Moffat. In the eponymous book, Jane decides that she is tired of being plain Jane, but since she is neither the oldest nor the youngest, she decides to be known as “The Middle Moffat”. When you are number three of nine (and the second girl), you understand what it means to feel like a nondescript member of the family, to hope that people will notice you, too.

One of the things that I loved about Jane is that she liked to look at things from a different vantage point. She would bend over and look at the world upside down from between her legs. Our Laura, who happens to be The Middle Neitz, used to do that, too! Often, I find that my take on a situation tends to be a little off-center from the people around me. I was reminded of that again on Ash Wednesday.

Each year, our parish gives out a little token as an aid in our Lenten preparation for Easter. One year, it was a wooden cross on a plain black cord. Another time, it was a little pebble. This year, it was a coin-sized disc with a line from “Footprints in the Sand“. You know it, don’t you? It’s about a dream where the author is walking on the beach with Jesus, reviewing her life. When times were tough, she only sees one set of footprint, so she asks Him where He was when she needed Him most. Jesus tells her that those hard times where when He carried her.

It is a moving story, but it does not ring true for me.

When I was being treated for cancer, I felt that God was walking with me each step of the way, helping me to pick up the cross and carry it every day. God was there in my family and friends, in the health care professionals, in my parish, in the youth group, in other breast cancer survivors. God’s presence was real and immediate for me the whole year. I felt held up by prayers, able to do things that sounded impossibly difficult. Sure, I was afraid sometimes and sad sometimes, but I never felt alone.

I think when things are going well, it’s easier to forget about God’s presence. In my dream, when I ask Jesus about the times when there is only one set of footprints, He tells me that those were the days that He carried me on His shoulders, celebrating with me as I whoop and holler in joy, or He is behind me, dancing.

This Lent, I will remember to look down, even upside down, to see that God still walks with us.


World on a String

October 13, 2010

“I think I should teach you tai chi,” he said when I arrived for physical therapy.

A highly recommended physical therapist, I knew Allie was the “tai chi guy” from his presence at health days at the school. He seemed like a normal person, but visions of citron sheets and shaved heads still entered my mind. Although I didn’t have that angry, fighting spirit so often described in the “how to have cancer” literature, I had decided I would do whatever it took to become healthy, so I listened for what he had to say. As a result of chemotherapy, at least I had the right hair cut.

“Sometimes, people who are dealing with big problems need a way to get away from them, to clear their minds…” Allie said.

Do I seem like I am not dealing well with this, I wondered? But I continued to listen.

“…and it’s good exercise.  It would be good for you.”

Well, he had me there. So, when I returned to the office, I clicked on complementary medicine, and did a little research.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, among the many possible health benefits of tai chi are reducing stress, anxiety and depression, improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep quality and cardiovascular fitness, increasing energy, endurance and agility, and improving overall feelings of well being. Wow! Those seemed like good things.

So, as part of my physical therapy, I very self-consciously started to learn the 24 forms or postures of tai chi chuan, yang style (simplified).

“Begin from a point of nothingness,” Allie said.  “Imagine you are suspended by a golden thread.” Oooo.  This is a little weird, I thought.

“Commencing step. Horse position.  Rising ball of air.” He recommended doing this with my eyes closed.  I couldn’t.  It made me feel dizzy, and I couldn’t stand the thought of unknowingly being observed by the staff and other patients.

“Carry the ball on the right.” Sigh.  I don’t know my right from my left, and it gets worse if I try to think about it. So far, tai chi was contributing to my growing dread that the illusions of confidence and air of competence, carefully developed over many years, would soon disappear, leaving me exposed as a pretender. I could not imagine how that would help me. Well, I guess it gave me something to worry about that wasn’t cancer.

“This is how you should breathe,” Allie began the next lesson. What?! I thought I at least knew how to do that right! Oh goodness.

Through the weeks of physical therapy, as I regained mobility in my shoulder, he patiently taught and retaught the beginning forms of tai chi. I don’t know how apparent my discomfort and nervousness were, but I was determined to “live the life I was trying to save,” to see all my treatments as more than a fight against cancer, but as a steps on a journey toward good health. In spite of my misgivings and lack of coordination, I became convinced that tai chi would help.

Much literature on chemotherapy speaks of imagining the drugs coursing through your veins, seeking and destroying cancer cells. That imagery didn’t work for me.  Surrounding myself with fun, life-giving people (and very effective antiemetics) had made chemo an enjoyable experience. Once I made the decision that I wanted to aggressively treat the cancer and had a great team in place whose medical decisions I trusted, it seemed like all I had to do was to show up. I arrived at chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and physical therapy, willing to do whatever was necessary.  Up until this point, my treatment felt like something that was happening to me. But to my surprise, with these slow graceful movements, I gradually felt empowered. For the first time, I was fighting back. I became part of the team.

Allie demonstrated each posture, breaking it down into small, managable movements. “Turn toward the front window, and part the wild horse’s mane,” he said. “Reposition, link, and part the wild horse’s mane.”

I turned and imagined myself facing the cancer. As I became stronger, better able to keep my balance, I began to feel like I was back in control.  Now, I was confronting the cancer, blocking it from taking over my thoughts and emotions.

“White crane crosses it’s wings.  White crane spreads it’s wings.” I had seen Allie demonstrate these postures for the children at school.  I spread my wings in the face of the life-threatening illness. I am bigger than you, and I still have a lot to do, so back off.

“Twist and brush left knee. Twist and brush right knee. Twist and brush left knee again.” One website lists this move as “Green dragon shoots out pearl.” What a great name. When Allie does it, it looks like a major league pitcher’s wind-up and release. Even though I was only a rookie, I imagined myself advancing toward the cancer, driving it away, pelting it with pearls.

“Play the lute.” I gathered my inner resources to prepare for the whatever would come next.

Physical therapy ended at the same time as the second round of chemotherapy, but tai chi lessons continued.  My middle child found the idea of coming to one of my medical appointments too frightening. Allie suggested she take tai chi lessons with me, giving us an opportunity to walk together on the good health journey, and taught a private mother-daughter class for us. She quickly became the personal tutor my chemo-addled brain required.

Each week we went to the clinic to learn a new posture.  Every night we pushed coffee table against the couch, covered it with instructions, and practiced in the dimly lit living room.

“Repulse the monkey,”  Allie told us. This is also referred to as the reverse reeling forearm. I was pleasantly surprised that I could bring my arms up and around, a move that would have been impossible before physical therapy.  This became my favorite move. I felt like I was baiting the cancer, daring it to take me on, while at the same time, pushing out of my space.

“Tai chi is movement meditation, but it is also a martial art,” Allie explained.  As radiation therapy became a dreaded part of my daily routine, I was secretly becoming a warrior in a campaign against cancer. Treatment required holding completely still in an unnatural position for 45 minutes, alone on a cold and uncomfortable table in a dark room. Every day when I heard the lead door close, I fought back panic by using the breathing techniques I had learned in tai chi while tears streamed down unbidden. Every night while I practiced tai chi, I rebuilt my resolve to see the treatment to the end, to repulse that monkey another day.

Although most of my attention was focused on the battle against cancer, I continued to live the rest of my life. “Parry left, ward-off right, and grasp the swallow’s tail,” Allie demonstrated. Even as I pushed in other directions, I continued to ward off the cancer, keeping it from controlling my destiny at the same time I relished the opportunity to deal with the ordinary annoyances of daily living.  Tai chi moves mirrored by life.

“Danbien and strike left. Ward off right. Wave hands like clouds.” With graceful motions, I deflected blows from well-meaning people, exposing loving intentions as hurtful comments fell to the ground. All the while, I moved toward the left to resume the battle.

“Danbien, strike, high pat on horse.” The cancer was loosing power as I tamed it with an overhanded blow.

“Block and kick right. Turn and strike opponent in the ears.” Listen up, cancer! You will not be my identity.  I am more than a patient, more than a cancer survivor. I am a very lucky person surrounded by love and grace, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a beloved child of God. Cancer was a problem I had, it was not who I was. I privately raged at the cancer, allowing me to show a happy demeanor in public.

“Turn. Block. Left heal kick. Danbien.” Danbien (pronounced “don ti on”) is a concept as well as a posture, Allie told us.  It is the single whip form in tai chi, but it also refers to the physical center of one’s gravity, the seat of internal energy or chi. I liked this imagery. It corresponded with the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when life seemed to be spiraling out of control. When I achieved balance, in my life or in tai chi, I had a “gut feeling” that everything would be okay.

“Snake creeps down and golden rooster stands on left leg.”  You have got to be kidding me! I am a bald, overweight woman in my late 40’s undergoing radiation therapy for late stage breast cancer. Allie does not acknowledge my incredulous glare. My daughter, naturally, can do it with ease. Oh! I did it! I feel as proud as any golden rooster! On to snake creeps down right.

“Fair lady at the shuttle.” Life went on around me as treatment and tai chi lessons continued.  I found comfort and humor in the fabric of daily living, the familiar rhythms of folding laundry, eating dinner, washing dishes, working, driving, texting, laughing, sleeping, weaving a future for family and friends that would include happy memories of time spent together.

“Needle at the bottom of the sea.” I reached into the deep recesses of the blessed ocean of my existence — constant yet changing, powerful and refreshing. There I found faith that gave me a sense of gratitude and peace.

“Fan through the back. Strike left, protecting head with the right.”  The oncologist said it was not curable, but I knew it could be beat it into remission. I refused to get caught in the head games of negative internet chat rooms, scary statistics, and annoying predictions of doomsayers. An 80% recurrence rate means that one in five people escaped unscathed.  I could be that one.

“Turn body, deflect, parry and punch.” Once again, I turned to face the cancer.  I was still standing. When I die, I hope my obituary will read, “she died unexpectedly,” with no mention of a valiant, lost battle to cancer. I will die while living this amazing, unexpected, yet wonderfully ordinary life.

Winter had turned to spring, and lessons were coming to an end as we were introduced to the closing postures.

“There is a drop-in class on Wednesdays.  You should come,” Allie said. By this time, I agreed that the practice of tai chi was good for me, but idea of joining a class filled me with trepidation. I took a deep breath, reminded myself of the many thing I had done over the past year that tested the limits of my courage, and wrote the class time into every week on my calendar.

The class gathers in a circle, and I look into the faces of kind strangers, but when we move together in the graceful, grace-filled unison of the 24 forms, I recognize their open, broken hearts. Pretension and illusions of confidence have no place here. I am still nervous, but I feel safe.

“Appears closed.” To my surprise, the cancer no longer feels like an enemy. I clear my right arm with my left, and withdraw my hands with my palms up, with the realization that the cancer is neither friend nor foe, but part of my being. I accept this part of myself, then push it an arm’s length away, closing the door on it’s ability to dominate my thoughts and emotions.

It’s World Tai Chi Day and some 50 people have gathered in the town park. My heart sings as Allie leads us in the beautiful dance in the wind and the sunshine.

“Cross hands, then circle to gather everything, wrists cross and rise to the throat.” I draw the lessons of tai chi and my affection for  the now dear strangers, and hold them close to my heart.

Allie gives the final instructions. “Closing. Separate hands to shoulders, palms down and descend. Return to commencing position, relax and return to nothingness, suspended by a golden thread.”

In returning to the beginning, I can see how far I have come.

I got the world on a string/I’m sittin’ on a rainbow/Got that string around my finger/What a world, what a life! (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler)

Here’s My Justification….

October 3, 2010

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Steve and I decided that we would view the “ordeal” as a journey toward good health.  It really made a hugh difference in how we looked at everything, and his positive attitude helped me to keep my spirits up when we hit new challenges. (Although, he also was the person who was most likely to receive the full force of my frustration when the going got rough at times.  “I have CANCER, you know,” I would tell him.  “The show that I am handling this well is for EVERYBODY ELSE!” It actually became a little joke between us.  “Oh, yeah,” Steve would say with a roll of his eyes, “you have cancer,” when I was being my ornery self.)

Now, I often have to remind myself that the journey is not over just because the cancer is in remission. The walking and lifting and tai chi-ing and healthy eating are all necessary, just as important as going to see my friendly oncologist, as required on my calendar as the appointments with the surgeons and physical therapist and radiation technicians had been during the cancer year. I have to remain committed to continuing on the yellow brick road to good health.

And then there is this:  “Exercise gives you endorphinsEndorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” ~ Elle Woods, Legally Blonde


October 1, 2010

I went to my first yoga class today!  Caryl and Chris, my partners in The List project, are both taking the class, and our friend, Lori is also enrolled. I had been nervous about the class, but it was so much fun.  I think I am really going to like it. It seems like it will help me become physically stronger and the stretching and breathing felt good for my scars.

As the class ended, Julie, our instructor (who is really cool and gentle and patient — a peace-giver, I think), talked about the traditional greeting at the end of yoga class, “namaste.”  She said something I had never heard before but that resonates with me. She spoke about the root of the word being the same as the English word, name, and that the connotation of the greeting is, “I name you.”

When I was in radiation therapy, the thing that bothered me the most was that no one there ever called me by name.  It was awful.  So, recognizing someone by name is significant, giving you both individuality and connection. It was a great end to the class.  I am glad I went.

(Thanks Caryl and Chris! Namaste!)


Rose Colored Glasses

September 27, 2010

We are headed toward October, and the world is turning pink!

It makes me a grumpototomus.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and  October 1st is the anniversary of my mastectomies. It may just be the timing that makes all this pink overwhelming to me.

I appreciate the good intentions, but I read research that ties being overweight with increased rates of breast cancer. So who thought that promoting the sale of potato chips with pink ribbons and donations to research was a good idea? (Well, unless it is to fund research that proves that eating potato chips is actually good for you, in that case, count me in.) There was a whole aisle of pink products at the grocery yesterday.  And I almost felt assaulted when I walked into the sporting goods store the other day. The health section of the newspaper has also started with the breast cancer stories.  It’s like they are rushing the pink season.

And while I am grousing, I think a lot of cute slogans used to promote breast health tend to diminish the contributions that real, live women — wives and mothers and daughters and friends, like Becca’s sister, Kim, and my college roommate, Betsy, who died in consecutive Octobers — have made by their willingness to undergo new treatments. I am convinced that I am still alive because of amazing women like them.

Please know how grateful I am for everyone who has done something pink in my honor.  You helped me through an incredibly difficult time. And the rest of the year, I will wear pink in honor of all of us who had breast cancer.  But  somehow, if I look at October through rose colored glasses, it feels like the cancer has stolen more from me than my breasts.

I plan to enjoy the browns and golds and reds and oranges of autumn this October.

If You Ever Loose Your Teeth When You’re Out to Dine…

July 29, 2010

…borrow mine!

Another list: Ten signs that you have a true friend….

1. She can’t help but smile when doing tai chi to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” – because it’s she thinks it’s perfect in the same unexpected way that you do.

2. She meets you at the gym because she knows that your bravery ended with asking if lifting weights would be a good idea for you.

3. She is just as excited as you are when your kid does something that is worth bragging about — and she lets you brag about it — and it doesn’t even have to be a really big something that your kid did.

4. She reads your blog and posts comments or mentions it in conversation so that you know that she reads it.

5. She’ll act like it’s no big deal if you are bald (but understands how you really feel about it and thinks it’s just as funny as you do when people tell you that you look good without any hair), or she will show up on your back porch with clippers when loosing your hair by the handfull gets too hard, or she will go ask the nurse for tweezers to pull out a stray ingrown hair from the back of your head that is making you crazy after your mastectomy, or she’ll find funky earrings that you never would have chosen but are perfect for creating a new look.

6. She’ll make going to chemotherapy fun or she’ll be waiting in front of your house with delicious food when you get home from chemo.

7. She’ll encourage you to make a list of things that you want to do, and then encourage you to do them, and she’ll make her own list, too, and she’ll help you to meet your goals (even those you meant but didn’t outright state) and let you be part of meeting the goals on her list.

8. She’ll think that your name should be submitted in an everyday hero contest, and not even because you had cancer, and she won’t be surprised if they pick you.

9. She thinks you are both a true friend and a good writer.

10. She loves to chat over a good cuppa about things that are really important or nothing at all.

It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.
When other friendships have been forgate,
Ours will still be great.
Lah-dle-ah-dle-ah-dle, chuck, chuck, chuck.
(Friendship, words and music by Cole Porter, made famous by Ethel and Lucy)

Return from Oz

June 17, 2010

After months of treatment, it is finally over. The pink and yellow bracelets, balloons and flowers are beginning to fade. Fatigue and unexpressed anxiety, hidden from the gathering crowd, surround me in a gray fog. I hadn’t known what to expect, but the day has a strangely familiar lack of reality.

As I look into the faces of the people I love, incredible people who helped me through a most unusual and unexpected journey, it hits me: This is what Dorothy must have felt like when she returned home from Oz.

The twister hit in July 2008 with a diagnosis of stage 3 invasive breast cancer. Steve and I shared the news with our three teenaged children over lunch on the back porch on a glorious, summer day. Without a cloud in the sky, we were transported in a dizzying array of appointments with surgeons, oncologists, and diagnostic imaging technicians. When the initial storm died down, our lives opened into a strange new land, with amazing and interesting people who pointed us in the direction of health and healing, a yellow brick road rumored to have been paved by a bike-riding munchkin named Lance.

Instead of the green glow of Oz’s Emerald City, I traveled in a world packaged with pink ribbons, shoulder-to-shoulder with brave fellow sojourners. We rode on shoulders of women who had traveled this road before us, many of whom had returned and others who sadly did not, but left behind clues to help us on the journey. I followed the signposts that steered me around the flying monkeys and negative internet chat rooms and pointed the way toward a safe haven filled with grace hidden deep within.

“Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Taxotere! Oh my!” My trip to Oz spanned the summer, fall and winter, and included visits with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy with skin graft, adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with stops at physical therapy following surgery and radiation. I experienced an unwelcomed, complete make-over with the accompanying loss of all my hair.

It may sound odd to someone who has never been there, but this world is an incredible place. Tin men, scarecrows, and cowardly lions, some dear ones I knew and other new faces who became dear, gave from previously unrecognized stores of courage, intelligence and love. They came to treatment, made dinner, sent cards and flowers and e-mails, stopped for tea, taught tai chi, explained options, raised money, ran races, gave rides to the kids, cheered good test results, calmed my fears, prayed with me, laughed with me, and cried with me, while a great and powerful wizard orchestrated my care.

While I do not recommend including it on your itinerary, if you find yourself in the Land of Oz, you will also be touched by its wonder. As Dorothy says to Aunt Em, “(T)his was a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn’t very nice…but most of it was beautiful. But just the same, all I kept saying to everybody was, I want to go home.”

Now, I realize, like Dorothy, I am home from Oz, and the faces in the crowd do not seem aware that we have returned from this strange land. “But I did leave you,” Dorothy tells Uncle Henry. “And I tried to get back for days and days….. And you — and you — and you — and you were there.”

If I tried to explain, they would shake their heads and chuckle. So I lift my glass in a toast to my secret homecoming, secure in the knowledge that the ruby slippers will be at my disposal should I ever return to the place beyond the rainbow.

Sailing into the Future

May 24, 2010

It’s a big week for graduations in our family. Beth graduated from Mayo Medical School on Saturday, Annie from Georgetown Law School on Sunday, and Laura will graduate from Delone Catholic High School on Friday.

Well, I graduated today, too! Since I completed treatment for breast cancer in March 2009, I have had a monthly appointment with my favorite oncologist. At my appointment today, he said it was time to switch to bi-monthly appointments, and I am ready! I’ll admit to being glad for being closely followed for all these months. It was hard to even think about not doing something about the cancer when I finished with chemotherapy and radiation. But I’m ready to move on, to be a “thriver” instead of a “survivor.”

So here’s to all the graduates…including me!

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott


April 23, 2010

Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

I have a friend who once told me that she never prays for patience, because her experience is that whatever she asks for in prayer, God gives her plenty of opportunities to notice that He is providing. Be careful what you ask  for!

I’ve only recently started to enjoy time spent waiting. I have not become a patient person, but I am a lot more tolerant of other people’s claims on my time. It’s a lesson from my year as a cancer patient. After years of “not having time” to go to the doctor, I found my calendar completely filled by appointments with various and sundry health care professionals, who true to stereotype, were rarely running on schedule.  I learned to count all that waiting room time as part of the journey toward good health, and I even looked forward to reading whatever material was available, finding all sorts of sources of unexpected wisdom, entertainment, and delightful conversation tidbits.  

A truth in blogging moment:  One of the reasons that I was able to enjoy time spent waiting is that every one of the professionals involved with my care always had time for me when we finally met in the treatment or exam room.  It’s not as hard to wait when you know that your concerns will be taken seriously.  And in most cases, I genuinely liked the people I was going to see, in fact, I have come to love them.

In one waiting room, I found a National Geographic from 2002 with a photo of an Italian sausage stand at the New York State Fair.  “Put some Gianelli in your belly!  Put some taste in your tummy!  Put some change in your pocket!” I love the Great New York State Fair – all of it, from the smelly animal barns, to the dirty midway, from the Center of Progress and Dairy buildings, to the footsie wootsie machines where you can recharge your aching arches while indulging in the best people watching in the world.  And while I don’t know when or where I met my husband, I know it was at the fair that I knew we could have a future together when he wanted to go to the side show featuring Otis the Frog Boy.  How could you not love a guy like that?! (I didn’t know until years later that he hadn’t expected that I would enthusiastically agree to go.  He meant it as a joke.) I asked if I could take the issue home with me.  As soon as I remember what I did with it, I’m going to show Steve.

It all goes back to having an open heart.  I recognized that he was who I was waiting for because my heart was open to love.  Healing and grace were available to me during the cancer year (as Sarah calls it) because my heart was open to receive them.

I always loved this story, The Most Beautiful Heart, which has circulated on the internet:

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”

The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing. The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought?

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands.  The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.

(Author unknown)

Open me up and you will see/I’m a gallery of broken hearts/I’m beyond repair, let me be/And give me back my broken parts. ~ Ingrid Michaelson, Be OK

P.S.  Today is the 18th anniversary of the date that we finally stopped waiting for our 9 lb. 12 oz.  bundle of joy, born 11 days past her due date!  Dear, sweet Laura, you were worth the wait! Extra hugs and kisses from your everloving mother!

The Red File

April 12, 2010

“Oh no,” I overheard her say. “Not the red file.”

I wondered what it meant. More work? A complaint? A mistake?

“Someone died last night.”

In that cheery room, surrounded by good natured banter between and among health professionals and patients, it’s easy to forget that all of us will be there someday.

And I find comfort in knowing that they will be sad when it’s my name in the red file.