ZEN BRO

Thanks to my bro, Jonathan, for going on a 3.6 mile run with me! Jon and I haven’t spent a lot of time together – mostly because we both have multiple kids, are busy with work/school, and rarely find the time to do things together.

During the summer of 2001, Jon lived with me on Long Island. We worked together at a program designed to mentor and encourage students from underresourced communities. Jon served as an English teacher, and I was the Dean of Faculty. Because I’m 6 years older than Jon, I was gone for most of his pre-teen and teenage years. So, it was nice to connect back with him during that summer. I got to see a creative, motivated, and inspiring side of Jonathan. Though we didn’t necessarily grow up at the same time, I know that Jonathan went through some rough times.

Running and talking have never been my strengths – especially up big hills. While my sisters and I talk ad nauseum about BRCA, cancer, mastectomies, oopherectomies, and such, I’ve never had the conversation with my brothers (I also have a brother, Paul). They, too, could be BRCA. And, they, too could have passed it on to their children. I look at my brother’s daughter and wonder, “Will she have to make the same decisions I’ve faced?” It pains me to imagine that reality, but I know that she might also be in good company with my own daughters. And, knowing I could never do this without the mentoring of my own sisters, I find comfort in the possibility that my daughters and my niece may be the new cohort of support.

During my run with Jon, I kept trying to out-do myself. I found myself checking my tracking device to find out whether I was running at my “race pace” and how far I had gone. Jon kept saying to me, “Liza, just enjoy the run.” I couldn’t. My body kept wanting to stop; my brain kept pushing me forward. “If you don’t slow down, Liza, you’ll just hate it. Enjoy the run. Enjoy the run.

Enjoy the run. Enjoy every moment. I sat on my rocking chair with my son the other day, and suddenly a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me. My son will be a year old next week, and I can’t help but feel sadness. I felt sad that he has grown up faster than I wanted. I felt sad that he, in fact, will be my final biological child. And, while I emphasize biological, I don’t have any false pretenses that we might ever adopt one day, even though I would love to do so. My son’s year has been different from those of my other children. I savored each and every day. As a seasoned Mom, I didn’t have the same nerves and anxiety as with my first two children. I enjoyed every moment. In these last few days of breast feeding, I have turned off the television, stopped checking my mobile device, and just watched him nurse. I know this won’t last much longer, and I want to remember how my body nourished him.

Somewhere in the 3rd mile, my body felt great. As I neared the end of the run, I picked up my pace and began to sprint. I wanted to get to the finish line as fast as possible; wanting to get this run over with already. And, yet, I can’t help but think about my mastectomy journey. It’s coming up much too fast. Last January felt so long ago — 7 months until my mastectomy. Now, in mid-March, we are just 4 months from my surgery. I want time to slow down; and yet, I want to get this over with so that I can begin to think cancer-free.

Enjoy the run. Enjoy every moment.

Peace, love, and time,

Liza

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