Monday, April 28, 2014

Everytime a Bell Rings

Last year, about six months after my brother died, my dad found out he had prostate cancer.  A little while after that my parents found out the person that owned the town home they have been living in, for the past fourteen years, passed away and they would be needing to move.  The family was going to sell the property.  A short time after that news, my parents' washing machine overflowed and flooded the bottom floor of the town home.  Because it was their washing machine that caused the problem, they had to take care of the clean up.  I was pretty worried about my mom's sanity at that point.  There were, of course, car problems along the way to be the cherry on top of their crappy ice cream sundae of a year. 

I didn't mention any of this on Facebook and only talked about it with a few friends.  First, Facebook, for me at least, is just a way to share fun.  I prefer not to be too serious, political, or bring anyone down while I'm on Facebook.  I'm not saying everyone should be like me.  It's just how I use Facebook.  Facebook has been a wonderful tool for staying in touch and re-connecting with friends and family!  I love that!  Second, it proved to be a useful tool when it was necessary to let friends know about my brother's death.  Everything about that chaos happened very quickly and I just couldn't call everyone that knew him or my family.

When it comes to the last year for my parents, well, I didn't feel it was my place to say anything about their struggles unless they asked me to.  My mom is on Facebook but rarely posts anything.  I also didn't say anything because I did not want the attention to ever be about me.  I wanted to say, "Hey everyone, please pray for my dad, that he would kick this cancer's butt," and "Pray for my mom, I think she's gonna lose it," but it just seemed like Facebook wasn't the right place to do that since I don't really want to post something so serious if it's not going to be taken seriously.  And by that I mean, followed up on, not just post that info and then people say I'm praying but never ask how life is going later.  I have cried about my brother to friends here and there.  And I've expressed that besides the loss of my brother, the hardest part has been the lack of acknowledgement about his death from people who knew him his whole life.  I know death isn't a fun subject and some have a harder time dealing with it than others.  It has just hurt to not hear from people that I thought I would have, more than I realized it would hurt.

I didn't want to say anything about my dad having cancer because I didn't want to cheapen how serious it was and how hard it was to know he got this news.  I had the "why God" moment but moved on from that quickly.  I know God knows what He's doing.  Even with death and cancer.  I was frustrated for sure.  Oh nice one God, he loses his son and now he has cancer.  Kick him while he's down why don't you?!  And while You're at it, why don't you pour lemon juice on his paper-cut with that whole 'you have to move' thing.  Geez God, take it easy!  I know You won't give my dad anything he can't handle but chill out!  We get it, my dad's a bad a$$!  (And then there's my mom's Ginger Rogers to my dad's Fred Astaire, she can do anything he can do, but backwards and in high heels.  My mom is a rock star.  My dad would agree.)

So here we are, Monday morning, my mom calls me a little after eight in the morning, which is not unusual.  She tells me today is my dad's last day of treatment.  Finally, after eight weeks, five days a week, he's at his last appointment.  She asks me to call my sister and then call the lady who works at the front desk so we can be put on speaker phone and cheer on my dad as he exits his last treatment.  I call Jocelyn, we call the office, she puts us on speaker phone and we hear my dad come out of treatment and ring the bell.  It's his graduation day!  That's what the staff calls it.  Oh that sweet ring!  Hallelujah indeed!  We are rejoicing.  I can barely get the woo hoos and yays out before I start crying.  Ding ding ding!  What a wonderful sound that bell made!  Thank you to Claire, the nice lady at the desk who made my dad's visits so effortless.  And thank you for putting my sister and I on speaker phone!  My dad doesn't hand out praise and compliments easily, at least not to people outside our family, but he could not say enough about Claire and his doctors and the rest of the staff.

Here I am sharing all this and I just said it wasn't my place to do so.  Well, I am justifying all this sharing because it's good news.  My dad will have to go back in thirty days to find out how his body is doing.  I'm not worried.  I really haven't been worried since he told me he had cancer.  My sadness and worry have solely been about the fact that I couldn't be by his side to give him a hug when he needed it or to make dinner for my parents when they were exhausted.  I have told my parents that I have never felt so helpless in my entire life.  I know my plate is pretty full with a seven year old and an almost nine month old.  It doesn't lessen my desire to be there for my family when they need me. 

Now my parents are about to be homeowners for the first time in their lives!  I will admit I wanted them to move to Minnesota so they could enjoy their grand-kids more but there was just no way for that to happen.  So instead I am taking delight in the joy they are finding in being homeowners.  (They have been raking leaves like crazy!)

Maybe I should have shared my dad's diagnosis when it first came to light.  Maybe he would have gotten more of the support he needed.  I can't start regretting that decision now.  I'm sharing now in the hope that prayers are offered up for my dad to be cancer free and for my parents' move to be smooth.  I know there will be other struggles for my parents, for my sister, friends, and me.  I also have faith God will get us through those rough spots.  Knowing God doesn't mean you don't have bad things happen to you.  Bad things will always happen but having faith means knowing that God will be with you through those things and you will come out on the other side.  If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.  Cliche, I know, but it's true.  My family is living proof of it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Mustache You to Look

My friend, Kendra, tagged me in a Facebook post the other day.  I was supposed to take a picture of myself with no makeup on and post it in the name of finding a cure for cancer.  I have no problem taking a picture of myself without makeup, but I just forgot to do it.  Today, as I was getting dressed to run an errand, I remembered the no makeup picture and thought, "I will gladly not put makeup on even though I am leaving the house to be seen in public.  It's exhausting getting prettied some days.  But I don't like to just snap a picture without thinking about it.  I'm a photographer after all.  So I went about my business and waited for inspiration.  I went to Target.  I got coffee.  I pulled out my adorable crocheted koozie I bought on Etsy and wrapped it around my coffee.  It works so much better than the cardboard ones!  I'm saving the planet and supporting a small business by spending money on Etsy!  Yay me!  I get my groceries and keep walking through Target, who knows what deal I might find, it's called boosting the economy.  Duh.

I get to the baby section.  It's like the coffee felt this was its opportunity to be free, it leaped from my hand and plummeted to the floor.  I reacted and jumped back so it wouldn't splash all over me.  Rats, barely had a gulp and it was gone.  Spilled on my koozie, my new handmade koozie.  And I happen to be in the only place that's carpeted in Target.  It's bad.  It's really bad.  It looks like something died on the carpet.  I pick up my cup and find a trash can.  There happens to be paper towels by the can for spills.  But this is carpet I've spilled on, I'm not doing much good.  I think two women saw me spill.  I can't just bolt out of Target.  I make sure those women see me trying to clean up.  At least they won't judge me too harshly.  Now what.  Do I call someone over?  Do I find an employee and blame someone else.  Why do I feel like a criminal?  I've never spilled anything in a store in my life.  I'm really embarrassed.  I'm bummed about my coffee and my koozie. 

I make my way to the checkout lane.  I tell the lady who's ringing my stuff up that I spilled in the back of the store.  She lets another employee know who is able to go inspect the damage. 
She asks, "Is it bad?"
I timidly reply, "Yea, it's on the carpet.  I tried to soak up what I could with paper towels.  I'm so sorry, I've never spilled anything in a store." 
The employee is so nice, she says, "It's okay.  Actually, thank you for telling us, no one ever does that."
I am surprised by this and reply, "Well, you've got me on camera, so it's not like I could deny it!"
We all laugh.  I am still embarrassed but I feel that I am maintaining my dignity by fessing up.

I pay for my items and head back to get another coffee, my money is ready.  The barista sees me coming and looks puzzled.  I tell him I spilled my coffee.  He makes me another one and doesn't charge me!  I am so grateful.  He tells me it's no big deal, it was an accident.  He explains how some customers come in during the morning and come back at the end of the day trying to get a free refill by saying they spilled their coffee.  What?!  Why?!  Who would do that?!  I show him my sad coffee stained koozie.  We chat for a moment about our love of Etsy, I thank him, I'm on my way.

I put Jack in the car, load up my groceries, I'm ready to go.  Oh wait, here's my chance for a no makeup selfie!  This week has been hard ( I won't go into that part), I spilled coffee, embarrassed myself, my new koozie is stained, and it's starting to snow.  Why would I take a picture right now?

I'll tell you why.  Because I have a working car that got me to the store.  I have just enough money to cover a frivolous frou frou coffee and my groceries.  I can clean the koozie and it will still work even if it's stained.  And I do not look hideous without makeup.  Some days it's harder than others to find joy, but you still have to look.