Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life is Too Short, and I don't mean this guy

I say it all the time, but evidently I'm the one who needs to hear it the most. Life is too short, people. In case you can't tell, this is all related to my last post, too.

I'm sure that some of you keep up with Dave and Tara, listed under "Fields Family Blog" in the melanoma/cancer links. Dave is a melanoma survivor who was first diagnosed in 1997. He
makes it look easy, but he's had a long fight with this disease. Dave has been having a lot of weakness, numbness and pain, and so they've been running some test to find out if he has any new tumors on his spinal chord. But this last Tuesday Tara posted that they finally figured out where the pain was stemming from: lepto-meningeal disease, which is melanoma of the spinal fluid.

Obviously, they need y
our prayers and positive vibes. This is not the news that anyone had hoped for or expected. And, as always for this couple, they are handling it with grace and courage that simply astounds me. Here's a quote from their journal:

David and I talked about a lot of "what ifs" yesterday and he told me that I have to continue to be for him I will be! His body is so tired. He's been running a marathon with more hills than valleys and he's feeling the effects of it. It may seem strange, but I think we're at peace with whatever happens. Dave and I have always had the kind of relationship that we could talk to each other about anything and everything.
We're NOT losing hope, but we are definately coming to terms with the fact that melanoma may win the race, so yesterday we talked about a lot of his final wishes. These are conversations that no one should have, and yet I feel blessed to know what David would want. He is so proud of his children and is terrified that they may forget him if he "goes home" soon. I promised him that no matter what happens, Sam and Emma will hear about their dad in one way or another...
very day of their lives. So...if you have gotten to this point in the journal entry, I need you to do something for David. Please wirte (or send me through e-mail) something about Dave.

These two blow me away. So much hope and so much peace in a few short sentences.

If you keep up with the Fields', please take a moment to send them some loving words. They are an inspiration to follow and I know they'd appreciate it.

And you probably know about both Johnny Deep and Becky. They have both passed away from melanoma in July. Becky was amazing- a real fighter who had just about the most amazing positive attitude I've ever seen. In one of her last posts, she wrote, "If there is one thing that I have truly learned from all of this... it is... that people truly do hold great compassion and love in there hearts for one another." She leaves behind a beautiful daughter who is still blogging on her sight.

And then, of course, there was Johnny, who totally did things his way. He took melanoma on his terms and spent a good part of the last year of his life sailing, which is what he loved to do. I love the way Johnny never pandered to his feelings, and he made it clear how bad things sucked without apologizing for his words. But then he'd turn right around and make you laugh in the same breath. Less than a month before he died he decided he wanted a tattoo to commemorate the journey, which you can see here. He was truly one a of kind. When my time comes, I want to do things the way Johnny did. It makes me smile just thinking of it.

Everyone of those names listed under "In Memory Of" links is someone I have known in one way or another. All but 2 or 3 I knew personally and corresponded with during their treatment or my own. If you don't already know, I can't explain what it's like to lose so many people like that. So many people who truly touched my life.

Every one of them would tell me now to enjoy my life and not waste a single second trifling it away with stress and worry.

If this doesn't drive home the point, friends, then I don't know what does.

Four short years ago, I found out that I had only a 50% chance of living for five years. Having said that, I wouldn't change anything that I've done with or for these kids of mine or take back any of the hours I've devoted to this job, even when I was overdoing it. I mean, my students have been one of the biggest blessing of my entire life. So this isn't about regret. But it is time for me to work on a new chapter, in which I learn to do things both for myself and for others. In which I detach myself from the test results and instead focus on those things that I can control.

I think I threw myself into this job as a means of rehabilitating myself back to health and back to life, and it has served its purpose in that way. And now I am going to devote myself to being the best teacher I can be during my work hours (which will be less than 50 per week), while maintaining a balance for myself outside of those hours. I don't have to cling onto this exhausted teacher persona anymore. I am determined to define myself in new ways every day, including a determination with a new sense of balance. I am committing to that right now, and as an ultimatum, I am attaching to it the stipulation that I will leave my school at the end of the year if I am unable to do this.

This isn't about work, really. This is about life.
Life is too short.

And life is too good to miss out on.


P.s.- In case you need it,
token cheezburger cat cartoon in 3.... 2.... 1.....


Kerri Pierce said...

Great post!

Petra said...

As a former teacher-holic myself, I applaud your realization that you need balance. Happy teachers are good teachers! Hope it works for you.

faye said...

Ah, life balance. I am so afraid of losing myself this year, even though I think I have a pretty good plan. It's so insidious, losing that balance. It seems so right and crucial at the time to give up this and then that-- but what makes it seem right? Is it from a good place? Or is it ego in sheep's clothing? A little of both for me, I think. At any rate, I look forward to watching you get this down, so that you can give some inspiration to the rest of us. Peace.

Lauren said...

i'm so sorry for the loss of your friend in july. i wanted to let you know that your blog has been a great resource for me. i was diagnosed with hodgkin's in may, and stumbled upon the list of "cancer blogs" that your site was listed on!

i've been blogging since my diagnosis, and it's been very cathartic... thank you for all of your insights!

lauren moore

Sunil said...

I appropriate your realization that you need balance. Great work..


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