We thought recovery would be easy for Michael, a strong, active 19 year old.  But maybe Michael is not the speedy, athletic hare sprinting to perfect health that he appeared to be.  Maybe he is the deliberate, steady tortoise.  And didn’t Aesop’s tortoise win the race?  His recovery has not been one miraculous moment, I cannot even place my finger on a particular “turning point”, but it has been a series of micro-improvements.  (Is that even a thing?)  Accepting the challenge of each complication, each treatment, each medication, with consistent motivation and even when we get sad or anxious, angry or frustrated, we refuse to get lured to the dark side permanently.  “Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent”, says Charlie Mackesy…. And we agree.  And we do.  Get up and carry on.  So many life lessons, one after the other, have been hurled at us.   We are not the eager students taking the popular classes we signed up for, but still, we seem to be getting the education we need, required courses, core curriculum.    All I really need to know, I learned when my child was diagnosed with cancer.   Maybe that will be the title of my book?  Ha!  Honestly, it is pretty accurate.   Maybe these are my first realizations, and some of them are just ridiculously obvious, but still so significant:

  • Looks don’t matter.  Really.  We love Michael with his pale skin, bald head and his skinny legs just as much, or more, than when he was tan and blond and muscular.  (uhm, and hopefully I am loved just as much with my extra wrinkles and gray hair!)
  • Every moment counts.  Duh- i know this one is way too dumb and obvious, but still, July 13th, 2020 we were planning our next surf trip.  July 14th, 2020 Michael was admitted to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital with a life threatening cancer.  
  • People are so good.  So, so, so good.   Beautiful.  Amazing.  Generous.  Good.  
  • Tiktok is actually pretty fun, even for a 52 year old.  Kind of like cake.
  • Throwing up sucks, but keeping it in sucks more.
  • Be flexible.  Sometimes you think you are something, and that something defines you (like dancer, singer, mommy and me music teacher, OR surfer, sailor, student, part time model) but then life changes.   And then who are you?   Who are you? Really? Adapt.
  • In spite of Covid, figure out who you can hug.   Even if it is your kitty cat.  And it better be your kids.  Especially if they are teenagers.
  • You are stronger than you think.  You can do anything.  Even keep to a diet that includes only white bread and rice.  No sugar.  No fat.  No dairy.  No CHOCOLATE!  Even if the challenge includes radiation.  And chemo.  And a transplant.  If you are given the challenge, you can handle the challenge.  Do not doubt your strength and power.   
  • There is no place like home.  Especially when you have been in the hospital for weeks….. Or days….. Or even hours…… 
  • Work out. It helps. Unless you are REALLY tired.  Then rest and watch The Office 🙂 
  • Meditate… or pray… or chant….or build legos……or DANCE!  Find something that takes you out of your physical body, out of your head, and into your spirit, your soul, the angel part of you.
  • The silver lining is real.  So is the dark cloud, don’t get me wrong.  Blindly optimistic is denial, I think.   But going through hell, and surviving?  How can you NOT believe in rainbows and unicorns?   I cannot NOT believe
  • Even when you are at your worst, it is probably still worse for someone else.   And even if you are convinced that you win the trophy for the lousiest day, someone else’s trophy is bigger.  And their day was lousier.  At least you are loved.  By a lot of people.   If you are reading this, definitely  by ME!

Wow.  I didn’t mean to give ANY lectures or reveal the private education that we feel we have had to embrace.  Especially because as soon as I write one thing we have learned, I think of at least 10 more.  And this is probably more than enough…. For now…..

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