wonder, part III

My cousin Josh asked me to write a post answering the following question: If you had three pieces of advice to share from your journey, that you hope would profoundly affect generations to come, what would they be? This is a great question and a blog post on the topic is in the works. 

In fact, I’ve already done some thinking about what three pieces of advice I have to offer. (I make no claims regarding their potential effect on future generations, but simply share them as lessons from my own experiences.) The first — without which this wonder series would not be possible — is: Accept help from others with grace and gratitude. More to come on this topic and my long process of recognizing its power and incorporating it into my own life. For now, suffice it to say: accepting help is HARD. But as Pam (my mother-in-law) and I discussed recently, it’s SO worth overcoming the ego and fear that keep us saying “no, thanks” or “I’m ok.” The life enrichment for both parties is immeasurable. (Actually, it probably is measurable. I’ll try to do a bit of research for my longer post on this subject about the benefits conferred by giving and accepting help to/from others.)

In the meantime, I continue to be in a state of wonder at the outpouring of love and support we have received from all corners over the past couple of months. (Yes, in addition to June 9 marking the date of implementation of the End-of-Life Option Act, it officially marked two months since my terminal diagnosis.)

Among the wonderful souls who have gone above and beyond to help our family during this period is Susan*, a longtime patient of Mike’s. When she found out that we were in need of an apartment for our families to use as a home base during this difficult time in our lives, Susan immediately offered us use of the furnished guest unit on her own property. This incredibly generous arrangement has allowed my parents, Pam, Tim and others — but most especially my mom — to have comfortable, ample, private living space while helping provide care for me. Importantly, by providing alternative housing for our families, it has allowed Mike and me vital, precious time with friends and alone together each day and night. These moments alone, especially — cooking dinner, reading together and separately, talking, crying, laughing, giving foot rubs and back rubs, lying on the rug listening to records — are invaluable and we’ll never be able to repay Susan for giving us this beautiful gift. 

I’d also like to recognize (in no particular order; more to come in the next installment of this series!):

  • Kate and Holly for the wisdom and love they brought to the writing and editing process for my Modern Love essay. (Still no word from The New York Times. They say they respond to all submissions in four to eight weeks. It’s been six; I’m getting antsy!) And for Kate and Rob, who came straight to LA to spend an incredible, meaningful week with us. We were sad to see them go, but so, so grateful for the time together.
  • My brother, Tim, for giving up a trip to Italy to come to LA to spend time with me as soon as possible upon hearing the news; for tracking down the one chair in LA we wanted for our living room and for spending the Memorial Day holiday with us, providing help (along with Jen!) with meal prep, grocery shopping, cleaning and more. 
  • Sienna (and Chelsea) for their help setting up the CaringBridge site. And Sienna for always being among the first to reach out and offer help or companionship — and mean it!
  • Our neighbors Jenn and Rose and James, who have been there to support us in ways large and small. (Most especially Jenn and her husband Toru, who have become real friends, too!)
  • My hair stylist, Lindsey, who has not only provided haircuts (gratis) to my family and me but has shown a genuine interest in us and our well-being and has become a friend in the process. 
  • Lauren and Chris, who have been wonderful confidantes, willing to have the difficult conversations that not everyone can have and bringing thoughtfulness, care, joy (and often Tender Greens!) with each visit. To Chris: We love seeing how happy you make our dear friend, Lauren, and I feel lucky to have witnessed your relationship blossom over the past several months. 
  • My in-laws, Brian and Katrina, for helping make our new sitting room the cozy, inviting space it is and for their ongoing love and support. Love you guys!

 

*Name changed to protect patient confidentiality.

friends are like walls

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i’m pleased to report the successful completion of 10 rounds of chemotherapy.  this was the first round in a very long time i tackled without the assistance of the parentals.  i’ll admit that i was a little nervous going into it.  those long hours of feeling too drugged up to drive anywhere or do anything meaningful/productive can wear on you if you’re alone.  but i felt confident that i had enough friends scheduled to help out, bring me food and keep me company.  there were moments of missing my mom.  there were moments (as there always are during chemo, no matter who’s around) of feeling lonely and scared and sad.  and, of course, i felt the physical effects of the drug cocktail:  jittery, nauseous, exhausted, nauseous, wired, nauseous.  but overall, i felt calm and cared for and comfortable.

and i felt — and continue to feel — unbelievably fortunate and grateful to have the best friends a girl could ever hope for.  what the sign below says is true.  whether i’m physically by myself or in the company of another person, my friends have given me the amazing gift of knowing that you’re there. 

thank you for the texts, the emails, the facebook messages, the hugs, the late-night phone conversations.  thank you for letting me lean on you so very often.  but more than anything, thank you for just being there.  i love you all!