Tuesday, April 29, 2014

See You laters, Goodbyes and the Grief Between the Two.

There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us, but there are always five. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. 2 years ago today I was fresh out of the hospital, and I had a horrible fall in the shower while trying not to sneeze because my cut was still so fresh that I did anything not to use my abdominal muscles. Horrible day. 1 year ago today a seamless trip to Farmville, Virginia, yeah I know where in the hell is that, well it's in West Bubble, but anyways I was going with Auntie Yvette to check on her mommy. I packed a quick bag a hopped in Uncle Jeff's new truck to go see about the pretty lady name Evelyn. 

The 4-hour ride Auntie Yvette and I did our usual gossip and other mischievous things. Then a call came from the surgeon on call that was about to operate on Ms. Evelyn. Everything quickly turned upside down almost instantly. I still to this day don't know how we went from a trip to check on Ms. Evelyn to a life threatening surgery so quickly. The rest of the ride was somber, mid way there we traded and I drove while Auntie Yvette rested, called her sister Karen and tried to prepare her self for bad news, not knowing neither of us could prepare for what was coming. When we got to the hospital she was already in surgery and we played the waiting game. Me, Auntie Yvette, and Ms. Evelyn's friend Ms. Dot sat waiting until she came out of surgery. 

Somewhere around 2 am she came out of surgery and that woman was not the woman I knew. The doctor told us that the next several hours were a critical period and were her post op care was crucial to her survival. We prayed a lot cried a little, and went to Ms. Evelyn's house to clean up and rest for a while. After getting things in order at the house Auntie Yvette and Ms. Dot settled on the couch to rest and I went into the infamous AKA shrine room to close my eyes under the pink and green adorned room. It seemed as just at I was closing my eyes under the covers in bed Auntie Yvette screaming peeled my eyes wide open, that’s when I knew something bad happened. 

Auntie Yvette was on the floor crying and Ms. Dot sat in disbelief, the hospital called to say her heart stopped beating and she was on a respirator that was breathing and working for her. Her organs were failing and her body had gone into septic shock. Her insides were failing from the poisonous waste being spilled in her body. She was dying and there was nothing anyone of us could do about it. An Advanced Directive is a legal document that you cannot deter from in any shape or form what is on that document does. Along with that was a very explicit Do Not Resuscitate order. The DNR Ms. Evelyn signed was so specific it would scare anyone who read it, and Auntie Yvette made it very clear that if we did not obey it Ms. Evelyn would come back and haunt us. She was dead serious about that, and I believed her. She passed later on that morning, and at that was the moment that defined me as a niece. 

At that moment 4 hours away from our families I became the back bone to my aunt, my grown aunt that I looked up to for years needed me, the same aunt that every time I needed something I looked to her at that moment she needed me more that she ever could have needed anyone else. At that moment I realized I was growing more then anyone could know. We wrapped our business at the hospital went back to the house and the first thing Yvette L. Gray said is she had a teleconference. I never looked at anyone so sideways at my life, and then I realized this woman is the same person as I am. If you know me you know I will do anything not to think about my latest life shambles. Well so does she, she puts things in the back of her mind until she is ready to deal with them, she has a slight case of OCD, she was going to break at any moment, and I was her glue. After exhaling I began to take control of the situation. I produced the agenda for the day; we showered for the day and began to plan a funeral. 

Now if anyone knows my Auntie Yvette you know she goes OVER THE TOP FOR EVERYTHING! Like seriously, everything we had a moon bounce and like 200 eggs for 6 kids on Easter Sunday. So we already know how this funeral was going to go. It was going to be perfect. I confiscated her phone and was her driver in Farmville the rest of the day, well I mean she had to give me directions everywhere but you get the point. After a grueling day of life smacking us in the face we began our journey home. She was not okay, and neither was I.  

When we finally got home she dropped me off I walked in the house went directly to my room and I cried. I cried because I don't understand why my family seems to not catch a break. From my cancer to this, from Markus having trouble in school to that, from Courtney trying to be the one keeping us siblings together our parents were clearly stressed, and this was not something she or I needed, or was it? This past year has been tough but the bond between my aunt and I truly has become so unreal. If I don't speak with her 3 times a week something is wrong, she calls me first with her toughest life problems. Me, her 22-year-old niece I am her life coach, and she is mine. I have learned more from her in this one year than I have over the course of our aunt/niece relationship and we have been exactly what each other needed at the exact moment we have needed it every single time. Don't y'all see how God can have somebody in your life for years and you don't see his or her purpose until way later. See at this point I’m preaching way better then y'all saying Amen. LOL! The dictionary defines grief as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret. As people we’re taught to learn from and rely on books, on definitions, on definitives. But in life, strict definitions rarely apply. In life, grief can look like a lot of things that bear little resemblance to mourning.

 This year has taught me this very important lesson. Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different on everyone. It isn’t just death we have to grieve - it’s life, it’s loss, it’s change, and when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad, the thing we have to try to remember is that it can turn on the drop of a dime. That folks, that’s how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can’t breathe, that’s how you survive. By remembering that one-day, somehow, impossibly, you won’t feel this way. It won’t hurt this much. Grief comes in its own time for everyone, in its own way. 

The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can’t control it. The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it, when it comes, and try like hell to let it go when we can. The very worst part is that the minute you think you’re past it, it starts all over again. Always, every time, it takes your breath away. There are five stages of grief. They look different on all of us, but there are always five. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression, and finally, Acceptance.

Rest In Perfect Peace Evelyn Williams



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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Recya made it #2years

There’s an end to every storm. Once all the trees have been uprooted, once all the houses have been ripped apart, the wind will hush. The clouds will part. The rain will stop. The sky will clear in an instant and only then, in those quiet moments after the storm, do we learn who was strong enough to survive it. Failure is inevitable, unavoidable but failure should never get the last word. You have to hold on to what you want. You have to not take no for an answer and take what’s coming to you. Never give in, never give up. Stand up. Stand up and take it. Sometimes, the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step. Then you start your journey. You hope for the best and you stick with it, day in and day out. Even if you’re tired, even if you want to walk away, you don’t. Why don’t you, because you are a pioneer. But nobody ever said it’d be easy. Hell if it was I wouldn't be sitting her 2 years later blogging about how hard it really is.

 Reflecting on the last two years is something I genuinely HATE to do. Everyone sees this little fighter and they see the smile I have kept through it all but very few have seen the pain behind the smile. I have found happiness in the little things like my hair that has finally grown back, we all know that my life was in shambles when I was losing my hair, but the hair growth that is coming back is to DIE for. But really what is supposed to make you happy after you go through two surgeries, cancer, and chemo. I lost a freaking ovary, had another surgery because my tumor was a stubborn and decided to grow back, went to chemo lost all my hair, had the summer from hell because my cancer still hated me, finally got what I think I wanted and got back in school and I still don't feel fulfilled. Call me crazy but sometimes I think things were sometimes easier when I was in chemo and I knew exactly what was going to do every day of the week. I was going to John Hopkins for Chemotherapy. It was so simple, and the worst part was that it made sense. Ask most people what they want out of life and the answers simple, to be happy. 

Maybe it’s this expectation, though… The wanting to be happy, that just keeps us from ever getting there. I've thought over the last year maybe I am not happy, because I just want to be happy again so bad. But then I realized something I no longer look at the world all prim and proper. It’s a common belief that positive thinking leads to a happier, healthy life. As children, we’re told to smile. And be cheerful. And put on a happy face. As adults we’re told to look on the Bright-side, and see glasses as half-full. Sometimes reality can get in the way of our ability to act the happy part, though. Your hope can fail, boyfriends cheat, friends can disappoint, and people can get cancer. It’s in these moments, when you just need to get real with yourself, drop the act, and be your true, scared, unhappy self. Life will knock you down but you still have to get back up and fight I’ve said it once and I will say it before cancer is unbiased it does not care about your gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, family history or you. It could care less what you look like if you’re a good person or not, like any ruthless serial killer there is the main purpose is to kill. If it’s life, spirits, joy, happiness, killing is the main objective. So what do you do? You gear up for battle and prepare to fight in the most epic war of your life. 

Cancer is nothing more than a war between you and life. Some of these wars result in complete and total victory. Some war’s end with a peace offering, and some war’s end in hope. But all the wars you will fight and have in life are nothing compared to the most terrifying war of all. The one you have yet to fight. For me it’s the war I am fighting knowing that any day anything can happen. And even though that’s the scariest part, it has yet to hinder me from doing what I want when I want. The ride has been one with plenty of turbulence; all I did was put on my seatbelt. I smile, I frown, I roll my eyes I have entire breakdowns, and I still push forward every day. Am I 100% happy? No. But then again who really is? Am I happy I have breath in my lungs and laughter in my spirit and love in my heart? Yes. The desires of my heart will come until then I relish in my accomplishments, and my daily struggles, because those are what truly set me apart from the rest, and those are what truly make me unique.

 A year ago I hated everything that was happening to me, now I still hate it but I move along with it. I take life’s blows and I give cancer the meanest middle finger I have, flip the little bit of hair I do have and seize the day. Gratitude. Appreciation. Giving thanks. No matter what words you use, it all means the same thing. Happy. We’re supposed to be happy. Grateful for friends, family, happy to just be alive… whether we like it or not. Maybe we’re not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude… has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. 

Maybe we’re thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing… is reason enough to celebrate. Celebrating 2 more years I wasn't supposed to live ;)



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