The Smile Box

I’m not sure why I still am surprised at the capacity of how amazingly supportive everyone can be, but I am, and it needs telling, over and over. The way in which the production of love jumps to my side, in all walks and shapes and ages, is astonishing.

The Smile Box came in a package from a coworker of my husbands. Her and her most lovely daughter filled a beautiful glass box for me with true and creative little “smiles” in the form of mostly shrinky dinks (which is the absolute best thing in the world!) and little tokens of love. Accompanied by small metal hearts, a pretty rock, a seashell, a fortune, was a big old handful of small shrinky dinks emblazoned with words of love, Milo’s name, flowers, coffee cups, and even a tiny bottle of wine! The list of little treasures goes on and the best part of this incredible gift of smiles is that it made for a most precious game for Milo and I when he visited. We carefully unwrapped the gift together, explaining that our friends made this to help me feel better. What a playful time he and I had, looking at each piece as he decided that because this is for my boo-boo, they all needed to go in my boo-boo. He looked at each treasure and placed them on top of my chest where the port lives (Milo thinks this is the boo-boo site) and kept putting the little pieces down my shirt. A first it was a struggle to fight back the tears at how sweet and scary and sad this felt but once we powered through watching such an excited display, it was the most amazing game ever! The Smile Box was both literally and figuratively packed with stunning love, and of course, smiles 🙂

The Smile Box is now a term I think I will use for these magical gifts, encounters, and support that I find along this course I am on. I’m usually not this sort of cutie with my words but smiles are abound, so I’ll take the cue and add it to my list of idioms.

So yesterday afternoon, at the spurring of my dear friend, we wandered around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he guided me in a wheelchair, a big step for me, and I had the most amazing afternoon. It was, indeed, a smile box full. In more ways than one, the day was simply bright. I gazed upon incredible art, of which it has been two years since I have stepped into a museum (too long for me) while having a day with a most amazing friend whom I rarely get to see. We laughed and cried and discussed life, art, love and the fears of mathematical equations. At the end of my road, he got the car while I slowly hobbled from wheelchair to a faraway curb when another smile box emerged. Sedrick and Miss Lady. Miss Lady was a beautiful dog of which I complimented, she nuzzled my leg and her owner, Sedrick, a tall gentle, young man told me that I was going to be okay. He knew it. His mother had cancer, he had asked if my leg was okay as I had my cane and extremely slow gait, but he knew I had cancer. He didn’t want to pry but he expressed that I reminded him of his mother, my poise and my spirit alighted something within him that he wanted to share. He was gentle with his words, yet confident that something needed telling. He knew that I was going to get through this, he expressed assuredly. He said that I was in the right place, that she (his mother) beat hers swiftly and though mine may be different, he just knew. I said, you know, I think you are right. I told him how I, of course, missed my family, but I know this is where I am supposed to be and thanked him for sharing in my beliefs and that this positive way of thinking is the only way. He kept on telling me about his mother, his sadness on being far from her, his emotions surrounding her illness. He was an angel that wanted to share his love with me and embraced me with his words. And well, it just so happened he was from New York too! A dark, lovely angel from Harlem opened his heart to me on the sidewalk of LACMA. He walked me the whole way to the curb, to my friend and in these moments I wonder how we can part from such people. I won’t see this man again and part of me is saddened by that, but I know that is the way life is supposed to be, we have encounters, smiles, and he will go home and call his mother and I will carry that moment forever in my heart. All for the spurring of learning to use a tool when I need one, loving my day with my dear friend, and meeting Sedrick and Miss Lady; I opened a very big Smile Box.

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Ritorna me

Back home and gone again, but my family will ritorna me….

The trip home was actually as expected. I had a feeling my lovely doctor would want me in his care. They all did, the nurses embraced me with such love and adoration. They ‘had’ me during the week. Milo had his mamma on the weekend. My husband held my hand, family and friends connecting, for my short visit. I received healing from all around me. And what such heroes I have surrounding me.

Really I was selfish though, and just wanted to cuddle up in Milo’s love, as he looked up at the nurse in the hospital and said, “mamma’s boo-boo, go bye-bye”. Are all two year olds like this? I’m afraid his compassion, his understanding within my honesty of how our life is, will cause him too much sensitivities, but I don’t think so, he has a feistiness and happiness that aglow his sadness for missing mamma. I sort of enjoyed the way he threw my small pillow out of the luggage when preparing to my return to Cali. He didn’t want me to go, but knew I had too and that he will be on an airplane to mamma soon. I know things will be as they shall, so I’m ignoring the books about children and coping with this sort of situation. I feel they are fear based, mostly, and condescend to the brilliance of the child’s eye, and mind. We are learning as we go, and being taught by so many around us, with their enveloping prayers and simple thoughts.

So for the return, I went home, played with the little man, had an unbearable pain battle, admitted to control and care for it, listening to the MRI’s tell me I’m relatively okay, no fears of spinal cord damage, just pinched this’ and that’s and general bone saga’s. With that, I received the go ahead to return to my LA houses of trials and trust. Thankfully! No more step backwards, I wanted to move forward with this…I have a feeling, a feeling everything will be just fine.

Back in the sunshiny state, solo mio. Still managing the pain, new ones, old ones, but made it back with divine help along the way. Even today, as I found myself dropped off at a cafe that was closed, it worked out, had a great lunch somewhere else, got a ride, used the Internet and now it’s nap time.

There is always enough energy for joy.

I had a giant smile on my face when my dear friend sent me a text that her baby girl arrived yesterday morning. I was so happy that I think it surprised Milo and made him clap, smile, and jump up and down. When I asked him to pose for a picture for the new baby, he blew kisses. Happiness is contagious. While, I am itching to jump on a plane and hold this lovely little one, bask in the glory of new life, I know this time is for their family. So I will wait patiently and let the joy fly back to them. We send our love and wishes and we can blow kisses from a far.

Today, it is this lovely child who inspired, watching the reaction of my baby, watch me, gave me this warm feeling and wonderment. Where does it go, that glory and warmth of a day a child is born? There are babies being born everyday into miraculous circumstances, why do we let go of that and allow stress, exhaustion, and the sorrows of a brittle world seep into a lovely one…. I suppose this is how it is, good days and bad days. I think the smiles of today will keep us going for awhile. And while I always have questions of why and how, I hold close to my heart that there is always enough energy for a joy, so we sprung up and danced with delight. Mazel Tov

My champions.

From the early stages of my diagnosis, pregnancy, and life craziness, I have been so utterly mindful of the amazing people in my life. However, the last seven months have been even more astounding to me. The capacity of friends, family, strangers even, to step up and simply be beautiful, has been breathtaking. (There have been a few weirdos, but really the energy put towards them is useless), I will spare that description and focus on the lovelies.

Friendship: I’ll start here and write a different post on family…

To name them all here would take pages of descriptions, but I want to honor and write about their beauty so maybe I will, within a general scope, though you all know who you are! Let me see where this takes me, as it has been difficult to put into words how truly blessed I am with love, positivity, general assistance, worry, laughter, wit, and those that carry the anger and sorrow for me. It’s a burden that I can’t bare and my friends take it on, and disguise it, and then completely astound me with their love. I need more words to express the love I feel when my friends cradle me….even when I’m cranky and weary, or can’t focus on what the hell they say…they keep it real and let me be. That is a gift.

A beginning description of what my champions accomplish is diffiult to gather. I have had friends fly in from the east coast to assist with childcare while my hubby travels for work, no questions asked, if I needed help…they arrived. Along with the help, it is so heartwarming to see my closest girlfriends bond with my son, share their love, time, energy to keep me grounded. Locally, my hubby’s dear friend from high school and my lovely girlfriend helps one day a week with so much love and so much tenderness and such beautiful mothering skills; she is truly a woman to learn from. My friends and our neighbors have rallied together to devise their availability schedule and consistently check in to ask of our needs, packages arrive at the door, and help with a moments notice is never questioned when things get shuffled and shaky. Sometimes, we arrive home to a gardening crew taking care of our yard, with blossoming flowers and fresh farm eggs on the doorstep. The bonds I have formed here have exploded. My close girlfriends have always been true champions, but lately I see it so deeply. In the beginning, it was difficult to admit how hard it is for me to care for my son alone, but these friends have made it seamless. It truly takes a village, and I have one.

Afar, I receive text messages, notes, gifts, love, and even a stopover visit from a girlfriend who lives in Geneva, and by way of a conference in SF, she jetted up to Seattle to be with me for a few hours. Such a needed visit, how many astonishing women surround me! I love the funny gifts I get in the mail, like the Ghandi pen from a close friend who has had her own mountains to climb. Distant and past friends from Facebook, or heard through grapevine friends, have reached out in amazing proportions with love, inspirations, music, and simple thoughts for wellness. Prayers are abound from all religions and spirituality. My husband’s high school friend, whom I had never met, had reached out to me with offers of free massages and childcare help. My busy yoga instructor made me a lovely meditation cd, and our favorite restaurant people always offer to make us food.

My chemo visitors also take the cake and never disappoint. I have received three prayer quilts by the talent of my friend’s mothers…they brighten the chemo room. Make-up lessons, errands, laughs, cries, wisdom, chauffeurs, and bag carriers…I am never without love or assistance. If I need alone time, we dim the lights and sleep together, escaping reality, watching buffy, eating gummy bears, or if I need distractions we play scrabble, and make up funny chemo drug names and sometimes actually talk about cancer.

Our employers, my former employer have also been extraordinarily supportive, generous, and caring.

Our family has been extended tenfold…

In the beginning, this independent woman was hard pressed to accept help from even my hubby, let alone friends, neighbors, acquaintances… Now I understand the value in receiving such heartfelt gifts. It gives those around us a place to put their love without demanding my energy, it also is simply true friendship, and how can one deny such a blessing.a few of the champions

Look good, feel good?

Make up lesson in chemo jail from one of my lovely girlfriends.

This Monday wasn’t so horrible, but I did have to kick Tykerb to the curb again… we shall see what the doc says about that, but at least I am awake and can function this week.  The make-up lesson helped….ahh it felt nice to feel like I looked a little bit normal, and give myself a boost after the intense side effects of that crazy drug. Now if I can only muster the energy to make myself up like this at home on my own.  One step at a time.