It’s been an incredibly emotional day today. I know there are more to come, and they sometimes just hit me like a brick. Today was one of those days.
I’ve been feeling discouraged about running and working out, yet I know I need to do it. This past week was also a really emotional one at work — dealing with a number of students in crisis made me put my own issues on hold, and a week of not dealing with ME meant it built up. I am also the emergency administrator on call which means no sleep, anxiety, and the actual act of calling parents at 2am when their children are transported to the hospital. In order to get caught up on my work, I also ended up spending much of the weekend in my office.
I’m glad that I’ve committed to the mastectomy. I’m glad I’ve committed to running (well, at least that’s what my registration forms say!). But, I want to give up. Lots of times. This past week, if it wasn’t for this blog, I would have abandoned both the marathon and mastectomy long ago. The days of my blogging about eating great, making organic choices, and yearning to exercise seem so long ago. This past week, I’ve eaten Milk Duds, croissants, Charleston Chews, donuts, pasta, pasta, pasta, and pasta for meals. I stopped by my parents’ house today and ended up eating nearly a whole package of chicharron dipped in vinegar. I can’t remember the last time I drank a Nalgene of water. Shit, I can’t remember the last time I drank a glass of water….
In addition to the stress of work, I finally ran out of frozen milk. And, in the next step of admitting that my breastfeeding is nearly done, I actually unplugged my fancy, high-tech, amazing breast pump at work and brought it home. It’s sitting in my hallway, staring me in the face. I haven’t yet unplugged my home-pump yet — the one that is so old it actually sounds like it’s saying “wacko. wacko. wacko. wacko.” every time it pulled the milk out of my breasts. I haven’t put away the dozen or so storage bottles. Still have the microwave breast pump sterilizer on the counter. Though it has only been a little over a week, my breasts are smaller. Soon, I won’t hear the familiar snap of my bra as I open-and-close the front panel to nurse my son. This is so much harder than I thought it would be….
Today, I also said goodbye to a woman who has been such an important part of my life. My next door neighbor, who I always called ‘Mamie’, will be moving. While my Filipino grandmothers came in-and-out of my life whenever they visited from Manila, Mamie has always been there for me. She is the closest thing to a grandmother that I will ever know. I’ve known Mamie for 30 years. I played hide-and-seek in her yard with the neighborhood kids, came inside for cookies and milk, and Trick-or-Treated at her house every year. When I got a little older — middle school age — I went over to Mamie’s almost every day after school just to talk. I sat at her dining room table, and she listened to me. Sometimes we talked about nothing. Sometimes we talked about God. But, she always listened.
My “neighborhood crew” consisted of me and a couple of boys. Together, we went over Mamie’s house nearly every weekend; nearly every day during the summer. We played board games, had potluck dinners, and sometimes played practical jokes on Mamie. Years later, she would admit to me that she knew every single one of our jokes, but she let us get away with it.
Years passed, and we all went our separate ways from the neighborhood. Today, me and the boys found ourselves in Mamie’s living room once again — laughing, joking, talking, and listening. The boys left, and I stayed for another half hour. I began to cry. “I don’t want you to leave me, Mamie,” I said through my tears. “I can’t imagine you leaving.” And, even at age 95, Mamie smiled at me and said, “Dear, you’re so sad. It’s hard saying goodbye. But, Mamie will always be here for you. I’ll always pray for you, and God will keep us together.”
We hugged. I told her that I loved her. That I always loved her. That I will never forget her. That I am so lucky to have had her in my life.
I told her that I would say goodbye to her before she left, but I knew deep down inside that I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. It would hurt too much.
Tonight, I also just got word that my friend, Richard, may be in his final journey. He has been battling a very rare cancer for the past year and a half. He fought like no other person I know. Richard had the rare experience of having a child with cancer (retinoblastoma, like my daughter) and then having cancer, himself, after his son completed treatment. Over a year ago, Richard was not given much time — yet, he fought like hell. He never gave up, despite knowing the the chemotherapy that was keeping him alive was also the source of his pain. His wife will always have my unconditional respect and love. As I read her email about Richard’s latest condition, I wept. I wept at our loss; and wept for his peace. For, he loved his family so much that he endured poison in his body so that he could live a little bit longer. I was fortunate to see Richard last summer, for what I knew would likely be the last time. We hugged. We exchanged knowing looks like we knew his condition could go either way. And, we said our goodbye.
Richard fought. Mamie, through her 95 years, fought. And, I know that once this cloud clears over me, I have some fight inside, too. It’s a sad day of love and loss. My friends, family and I have lost too many loved ones from cancer; I will not be one of them.
Peace, love, and loss,