The days to come felt like months as I prepared for our war on cancer. I found Brian the best doctors and the best surgeon. I spent hours preparing and growing food for him to eat. I obsessed over his schedule, vitamins, and meditations. I made sure he was in bed every night at 10pm and woke up every morning to sunshine and a day full of hope. It was definitely working because he looked stronger everyday.
As I sent Brian off to his last day of work before his surgery, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I had spent my career telling women how to let their light shine even when they felt dark yet I had broken all of my golden rules. Every morning I avoided my closet, mirrors, and makeup.
I had no idea how to dress for cancer and I certainly wasn't ready to accept that I needed to.
I was surrounded by vibrant and amazing food but I rarely ate. I had not taken a vitamin, seen a gym, or good night sleep in weeks. Meditation, like defeat, was not an option. I could not risk looking at the reality of what was going on if we were to survive.
At night, I was tormented by the quiet. My mind saw it as an opportunity to scream, "Stop ignoring me!"
I found myself just lying awake watching him sleep. The snoar that once infuriated me now drowned out my thoughts and brought me peace. I was trapped in the lyrics of a Sarah McCaughlin song, constantly praying, 'he'd be strong tomorrow and we'd see another day.'
While I was secretly wallowing in the darkness of "what" had happened, I completly ignored the signs on "why" it had happened because I was blinded by one phrase--"Brian must survive." In my ignorance, I failed to see he was doing better than surviving...he was actually thriving. I was actually the one barely holding on.
Brian was shedding his old life with no regrets and no turning back. Whether it be an old job, an old habit or an old friend... if God said let it go, Brian let it go. Piece by piece I watched every negative experience fall from him and shatter into a million pieces.
Afraid of what letting go meant, I was scurrying behind him with glue and a dust pan. I was desperate to put the puzzle back together and fix the past. He, on the other hand, left the broom for its rightful owner and said, "You clean it up!" He was surrounding himself with love, light and hope. I was holding on to yesterday and afraid of tomorrow. I was not embracing the journey.
I once interviewed a man who had lost his wife to cancer. His hallways were wall-papered with memories of his former "whole" family. When he looked at them he smiled and saw a celebration of what they had accomplished. When I looked, I saw 'ghosts' of the past and it broke my heart into a million pieces. I was stuck on the question, "Why them?"
There was an undescribable feeling of calm in the room as he shared his journey through cancer. He said, "Cancer in a moment's notice will turn your life upside down, but it is up to you to see it for what it is--a gift." At his wife's request, he left his coporate job and started a foundation to help families with young kids deal with losing a parent to cancer . It was something he knew a tremendous amount about since he himself had young children who were facing the death of their mother.
He said, "I hate why I am doing this, but I love what I do." I asked him a single question after hearing his story, "What advice do you give people who want to give up in all aspects of their life?" His answer would end up being the most imporpant piece of advice I had ever received in my life. He said, "It is harder to give up, and there are many, many ways you can choose to give up on life. When you give up on hope or give in to tragedy it is a terrible way to live. It is easier to move forward. As corny as it sounds, there is an opportunity just around the corner."
As I sat staring in the mirror I realized I armed Brian with all the ammunition he needed to fight cancer. He put on his armor, walked onto the battle field, faced his enemy and said, "Thank you for the gift."
I wasn't ready to accept cancer. I was digging through the garbage looking for a gift receipt.
I thought, "Couldn't I just exchange this present for one that fits me better? "
I realized this was about to be the first 'no return's' policy I ever followed. While I was not ready to say, "Thank you", I was done with my cancer uniform of a sweat suit and a dirt ponytail. If I could't figure out how to dress for colon cancer I decided I would stick with what I knew... 'dress for a date with Brian.' I pulled out my sexy signature black knee-high boots he loved. I built 5 outfits for myself, one for each day he would be in the hospital. I packed a few necklaces and laughed. At least I'd be the best dress on the hospital floor.
If we pay attention we are given chances to face our fears everyday. However, accepting the opportunity can be more frightening than the 'fear' itself. We have to trust there is a big beautiful present waiting to be unwrapped... and it has everyone's name on it
Eventually I figured out a way to dress for Cancer