“When was the last time you told your story?” The question comes from a Native American Medicine Man.
Sometimes we keep telling, sharing or re-writing our story the way I have for so many years. We can’t help the need to release and express that which presses on our heart. People may get tired of hearing about it, but it is only through the telling over and again that we are able to understand it all. Mark Nepo adds that, “It is the sweat and tears of the telling that bring the meaning out of its sleep as if no time has passed. It is the telling that heals.”
I was encouraged by today’s reflective reading to close my eyes and imagine the passages that have brought me to the person I am today. It’s ironic that I come across this right now as I’m re-writing my story. I’ve actually been noticing how many doorways and thresholds I’ve crossed through. The deeper I go into these various places the more I see clearly as if no time has passed. The journey, this time, is not a walk I do alone. I am holding the hand of my younger-self. Something my wonderful therapist once taught me to do. I let her lead the way as she walks me back through each doorway of our story. While it can still be painful at times to live through, I am able to remind my younger-self that it is okay now because we made it all the way through. I’ve learned to thank her this time too. For the strength, perseverance, bravery and the faith it took to get through one thing after another. My hope is that when every doorway has been gone through noted, and the last word is the end. That the child in me will not only see how much she is a part of who I am today, but that she will let go and become as I am.
I’m sitting at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute in Lancaster PA. It is a beautiful facility top notch with just about everything you need for treatment. It’s not the kind of place you want to come and see just to check it out. I don’t think anyone wants to walk through its doors if they didn’t have to.
I’m here with my younger sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery. One treatment of chemo that made her so sick, her system couldn’t tolerate anymore. She still lost her hair. She’s now into her fourth week of a 7 week series of radiation. It’s beginning to leave behind the burns it creates. In spite of all she’s been through, she is doing well, and has a good positive attitude. I’m feeling pretty hopeful for her myself.
As I look around it blows my mind to see how many people are fighting this terrible disease. Today especially I’m noticing more women then usual with no head covers. Their hair has begun to grow back. They seem proud to display it as if it’s their first sign of getting back to normal.
I’m only an observer. I have no idea how they feel or what it’s like. What I see is their bravery. Like warriers they walk with their heads held high, with hope and prayer as their weapon. They’re fighting the good fight for life. And I can’t help but think how heroic they are!
When I was about 9 yrs old we were sitting around the table at dinner time. For some reason I remember I was sitting in my Mom’s seat which was across from Dad. Mom was in one of her moods so she was in her room. My Dad had a few beers which actually turned him into a clown. As the rest of us were eating around the table I started getting hit with one pea at a time. It was something my brother would do, but it wasn’t him. After a few more times I figured it was Dad.
“Stop ,” I said, laughing, but he kept it.
“Come on,” he said, “throw them back at me.”
I looked around for fear of what my mom would do if she caught me. Besides I didn’t want to throw them at him, he was my Dad. But he kept it up, pushing and pushing until I finally flipped the mash potatoes I had on my fork at him hitting him in the face. He roared in laughter, and said, “I knew you had it in you.”
It seemed that life was that way as I grew up. I just wanted to be nice to people, but there was always someone out there pushing my books out of my hands, talking behind my back, or demanding me to do this or that for them. I was always shocked by these people who were suppose to be my friends. I had a hard time believing that they could be so mean to me. Maybe I was making it worse than it seemed, always giving others the benefit of the doubt until they pushed me too far. They were always as shocked and surprised as my Dad was when the mash potatoes went flying in their face, and they still are to this day.
I asked dad years later, why’d you do that to me. He said because I knew you were too nice for your own good, and if you didn’t learn to stand up for yourself the world would eat you alive. I haven’t been swallowed yet, but it is difficult to keep climbing out of the mouth of those who try.
Eat your peas, please don’t throw them.