I picked her up

Oct 29

Maren came home from school upset and disappointed on Monday.  We had forgotten it was Pajama Day at her school.  For those of you who do not know: forgetting Pajama Day in third grade is an atrocity.  She felt about missing Pajama Day the way I felt when I got the news that my car is officially totaled.  Colossal bummer.  Mega disappointment.  So very irksome. She was so sad, so I picked her up.  As I swung her gangly legs around me and felt her head on my shoulder and absorbed the weight of her my thoughts strayed away from calming pajama problems and wondered: how long has it been since I’ve picked this child up?  It doesn’t happen daily or even weekly as I once couldn’t imagine would ever change.  I swayed with her in my arms in the nostalgic way that mothers do: remembering the countless times I’ve done this before and realizing that we are about to end this phase.  My body remembers in visceral way the set of her in my arms; she preferred to be hooked in my left arm (and Greta preferred my right).  Her size ten frame is more than half my size and I think we probably look as I’ve long felt; I struggle to hold this much love in my heart… and now my arms too are bursting with her.  God bless us and the love strung between us.  I don’t remember the last carseat buckle or the last diaper change, and those weren’t rituals I held on to with sentiment. She still sits on my lap and snuggles–it’s less “sits on my lap” though, and more just “sits on me”.  These days my favorite quiet moments with her are coloring together at a table or lying side-by-side in her bottom bunk bed as we talk and look up at the glow-in-the-dark stars we stuck up there.  She’s growing up and I’ll forever be looking for new ways to pick her up. Lord, she. is....

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What really matters

Oct 25

The bumper sticker on the back of my car reads “Always make time for an adventure.”  I love it, and that is the way our little family rolls. On Friday night, that’s what we were doing: we spent a great October evening with lifelong friends.  The kids ran around in the darkness, they decorated pumpkins, we had a delicious bonfire, awesome conversation, and crisp and cozy fall treats. We left that party, and headed for a mini-venture as our family of four.  Brad surprised the girls and I by booking a hotel with a pool and hot tub in the town where his Wisconsin Badgers were playing.  We left the fall party, en route for the hotel.  I am the nighttime driver in our household, so I was driving.  The girls, exhausted from the fun, fell asleep as Brad spent an hour catching up after a long week. He had a taxing week at work, and I have been processing much on my own: the end of the half-marathon season and no “what’s next” on the calendar, frustration with my skin/body/cancer, our third flood (more on that later), home disarray, and just life-minutiae stuff that creeps around all of us.  I was really white-knuckling it to stay positive and I had been sharing that with him.  On Thursday night I sat down with a bunch of my friends and they gently nudged me back to my perspective on what really matters.  I know my purpose, I love my people, I have everything I need.  God speaks to me in several ways: through emotion, through friends, through truth.  As we drove, Brad and I caught each other up on all these life details that we don’t always get to at the end of the long days.  We finished our conversation and I settled in to finish the drive in the quiet, peaceful car, my most priceless things in the car with me. A deer popped on to the road in the lane to my left running across the road towards me.  I had the split-second choice of slamming the breaks, swerving right, or decelerating while staying in my lane.  I chose the latter option, and the poor deer crunched mightily into...

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A talisman on my pillow tonight

Oct 23

Tonight when I got home late, I found a scarf neatly folded into a bundle on my bed with a note in Maren’s handwriting.  “This is mom’s scarf.  It’s been in my bed.” My heart swooned which is just what the heart does whenever one is lucky enough to find a note on her pillow.  Right? Also, note to self: leave more notes on pillows. At one of the recent events, a company — I think it was Ford — gave away scarves that were really beautiful and the caught the eyes of my daughters and I.  Free stuff is awesome, but this one is really a lovely gift.  It’s a wearable, not overly logo-ed, beautiful pattern and we came home with three.  One for Jen, one for Maren, and one for Greta. Maren was immediately enamored with hers.  She’s one to attach meaning and weight to items, and she carried her contribution to the breast cancer cause with her as she wore her scarf.  It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the heart behind it. I too attach meanings to objects and am very sentimental. A few nights later, we had ourselves a little cry.  She and I have tears together now and again over our family’s cancer burden.  I can’t remove it for her, but I can share it with her.  After our cry, she came walking into my bathroom as I was washing the tears away.  “Here Mom,” she said as she held out my scarf out to me.  “Will you wear your scarf tonight while I wear mine?” I grinned at her, knowing that she, too, had washed her tears away, set her emotions aside, and was moving forward.  In her astoundingly brave 8-year-old resoluteness, she reached for a talisman of comfort, and was offering me the same. Maren and I are so alike.  We tether ourselves to what makes us feel brave: to God, to each other, and to treasures of love. I took the scarf from her with a flourish and did a pose into the mirror.  “Great idea kiddo.”  I know I needed a laugh and I figured she did too.  Our mirrored images, our pink tear-stained faces grinned at each other in the reflection as...

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Be beautiful today

Oct 20

Be beautiful today

So, the good thing about my recent treatment change is that Dr. Wonderful removed the drug that was giving the flu-like symptoms.  I’m no longer dealing with significant fatigue, nausea, body aches, and energy drain.  I have more mojo to do normal life things and am cautiously optimistic that I will continue to improve in this regard.  Its been an odd mix: discontent at the knowledge that the cancer progressed somewhat, yet relief from the physical symptoms the previous medication was causing.  It’s an odd juxtaposition.  As ever, I’m choosing to see the good, and I’m gleeful about the energy boost I have felt and didn’t know I was missing. Blissfully, I feel like I’ve been more present and intentional to spend time like this with this kid: And, equally blissful and entirely different, I’m cheering on this kid in the way that she needs to hear it: (Can you tell art is a thing at our house?) As my energy returns, and I fill my priority buckets first: Jen, Brad, the girls, etc., then I go to regular life stuff.  My capacity to take on tasks felt like I might be back: I began making lists and peeking out at the things I’ve put off for months.  My little family is so busy being intentional and doing real meaningful life that we haven’t, for example, dealt with the home repair required from either of the two (2!) floods that we’ve had this year.  And that’s just the top of the very long and overwhelming list.  I began making plans to deal with the boring-yet-necessary life stuff. We haven’t changed our family jam: we Do Today Well and make sure we connect with each other.  We had a great fall break day together and went to the zoo.  Anytime the four of us are together I feel so delighted that this is the life we’ve built. Things never happen the way I expect, however.  Last Tuesday I started with a symptom that we’ll just call gastrointestinal distress: I’m managing it with over-the-counter medication, and it’s fine now, but it’s something I need to stay on top of and is a known side effect of my new drugs.  Then, last Thursday night...

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Pinkified

Oct 14

When Maren was five, I was at a shoe store with NanaRoz, toddler Greta, and Maren.  Since Greta never agreed to stay seated in the stroller unless the stroller was moving very rapidly, I was doing speedy laps around the store while NanaRoz and Maren selected a new pair of shoes.  Maren picked out the perfect pair of shoes and I left them at the counter while I did another lap.  By the time I circled around again, the two of them were rooting through a bin of shoe charms to decorate the soon-to-be-purchased new shoes.  Grandmothers, right?  Maren and Greta are blessed to have two of the best grandmothers on the planet. Maren emerged with two charms: one I no longer remember, and the other, a pink ribbon.  She beamed up at me, “A pink ribbon Mom.  For you.” My heart melted and I was touched at the sweetness of my daughter that she chose a charm to represent her mama.  The fact that it was a pink ribbon and all of the political and social implications it has was irrelevant to me.  I focused on the heart of my daughter.  She chose the pink ribbon that day to say: “I love you.  You matter.  I carry you with me.” That is pretty much the feeling I choose to carry with me during this month of Pinktober.  I see the pink and I choose to see the goodness: that my cancer is a “popular” cancer that receives more funding than other lesser-known cancers, people wearing pink honor of me and my disease, and fundraising taking place that (I hope) will directly and positively impact my lifespan. That, I believe, is the heart of the pink ribbon movement.  As with all things, it is abused by some, misunderstood by others, and also empowering and endearing.  We all see it through our own lens. There are a lot of people and organizations who are up in arms about the problems with the pink movement: the way that pink ribbons are used to sell for profit and not for charity, the minimal funding directed specifically to StageIV/metastatic/terminal disease, and the mis-education of awareness and early detection as the focal points of the campaigns.  It probably...

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