March 2, 2013 by vlittle528
Life is characterized in so many different ways. I often hear “crazy”, or “hectic” or “ironic. I prefer to think of the wondrous thing we call life as filled with faith and purpose, and interconnected in a way we can’t see. Which, to me, is weirdly at odds with my anxiety.
Lately, a lot of people around me have been given the earth-shattering news that they have cancer. My husband, mr. nothing-bothers-me himself, even told me that maybe I should drop out of a certain group of friends because it seemed to be “catching’. He was joking (I think at least), and he knows there is no way I would ever do that. He understands that the group is special, but he doesn’t understand this group like I do. He doesn’t know that sometimes they are what gets me through the day…whether they know it or not. Sometimes when I think the world is a hateful place, I go and simply read their conversations and realize how great people can be. He doesn’t know that every time I am at Sushi Katsu I think of the awesome night that one of these ladies gave me courage and hope, or the time that we were camping and more than one helped my children and treated them as their own, or how one can simply just breathe and I think she is a Saint.
For my friends in their difficulties, it is almost a selfish feeling I have. I feel overwhelmed and helpless, so I do the little things I can to help them, with just the hopes it makes them smile. But in the back of my mind is a nagging voice. Well, two voices. The voice of self-doubt says “they don’t give a flying monkey’s uncle what you do!!” and “This is stupid and NOT what they need right now” and even “they will never remember this…nor will they remember you”. Ahhh, the painful scars that our teen years leave. And another voice of “When is it going to be you?” and “when it is you…have you loved and cared enough so that others love and care enough for you to put forth the effort?” I don’t think so…because I really don’t let other women (other than a VERY select few) know me. Because if I am not sure what I like about me, they certainly can’t be either, right?
I can hear at least three friends in my head berating me and telling me they would be there. And I truly do want to believe that. But how do you when no one else really ever has been? Well, to give credit where it is due, my BF has been around quite awhile now….but then again, my dad was around for 16 years before I wasn’t good enough anymore. That pain and those automatic thoughts just don’t go away.
And then I feel guilty for even having these thoughts. And the fear of “what if” because I have had a sore throat for a month make me feel like a hypochondriac. These strong women are facing REAL issues! REAL problems! My life, my issues are nothing compared to the mountains they are climbing! Heck, I still can’t get over that one girl not only went through a surgery for cancer, but then actually hurt herself that morning, and still managed to come to a meeting that night to tell us she needed to slow down next year?!???. I would have been laying in my bed with my covers pulled over my head depressed and alone and feeling guilty I wasn’t playing with my kids. But not these women. These women are strong. They are fighters. They are mother’s and sisters and friends. They are wives and damn it, they are women.
We can do what we want with our world. We can take the friends we meet (NOT a small task for me as every time I do I go home ridden with anxiety and about in a panic-attack. Something you would never know if I didn’t tell you) and we can turn them into small families and forces around us or we can choose to be catty and competitive.
Though it is hard for me, I prefer to try to make these friends family. I have no reason to compete with people, and it doesn’t make me feel good to do so. Some of these women are role models for me now. A certain mom with two high-school boys is my own superhero. And I will forever do what I can for her because she is forever doing things for other people, and goes through her days with a heart of gold and a witty sense of humor. I don’t know one of the ladies with cancer at all, never met her. But I do know she is a strong and courageous single mom that deserves help-her children deserve help. And I want someone to fight for my children when I am down and out. For all she has given, she deserves a helping hand. And for my other friend. Someone who was just “another mom” to me until recently. Her heart, caring spirit, and infectious smile got to me from the moment I met her. I am not comfortable with ANYONE when I first meet them. But with her I didn’t feel as if I was being judged. She just accepted me as being “that other crazy mom trying to butt in when her kid-has-been-in-Kindergarten-a- freaking-week- mom”. And I never knew how she could affect ME until I walked into her house with dinner one night and the simple sight of her scar almost brought me to my knees.
Our lives are intertwined in ways we don’t see. Every time we meet someone, talk to someone, help another parent’s child in class…we are touching someone’s life in some way. We can choose to make that interaction good or bad. The best way to sum up all that I am thinking is written in one of my favorite poems.
The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?