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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bet Your Bottom Dollar That...

     Mr. Jones' FB post today was, "Round 2 here we goooo."  And here we are. Once again I am writing to you from the treatment center. He's reading a book on parenting, so I don't feel badly about ignoring him for a bit to get all this stuff crammed in my head out into cyberspace.

     I've been thinking about my friends. I feel so blessed to have SO MANY people I call friends. Not acquaintances, but real friends: people with whom I have connected with emotionally at one point or another. Some of you I see everyday.  Some of you, I wish I could see everyday. And there are those of you whom I see maybe once a year, but when we're together it's like no time has passed. I am truly lucky to have so many people to love. And whenever I encounter any one of these friends, I am immediately asked how Mr. J is doing. And then after I give the overview of his symptoms and how he's managing and happily explain that he's doing amazingly well, the next question is, "And how are YOU doing?" And I say, I'm fine as long as he's fine." And that's true, but I'm also unusually tense most of the time, irritable and worst of all impatient. All this is to be expected when one is under stress, and I am doing the very best I can to not let my mood swings become apparent to those I love and really don't want to lash out at. But I am finding it harder than usual to feel the endless compassion with which I usually pride myself. You see, the reason I have emotionally connected with so many people is that I have learned over the years to how to listen without judgement. I am fascinated by people and I love to feel connected. I feel like every time I share these moments with others that I am made richer and my heart swells and I feel a joy that can only come from loving another person. If you know me well, I have probably told you I love you...on many occasions. And the truth is that I really do. I love each and everyone of my friends with an open heart and would do just about anything for each one of you if I knew it would make you happy.
     The problem is that lately I am finding myself to be impatient and judgmental. The events of my life have me finding myself frustrated by people who are caught up in trivial frustrations of everyday life. I am finding it very hard to feel badly for someone who is crying to me over some great problem that amounts to an issue of vanity, or not getting what they want when they want it, or even worse when they created the problem themselves by doing something selfish or dishonest or immoral.
     Many of my friends are coping with real tragedy. I have several friends suffering from infertility and loss of pregnancy. I have one friend who recently had to send her college-age son to rehab due for his crystal-meth addiction. Another friend is in the middle of a messy divorce where her ex husband is abusing their children and trying to ruin her financially. Another is just hoping that his mother lives to see Easter. I know people who have lost their jobs or whose hours have been cut so dramatically, that they may not be able to pay their mortgage. I have friends who are struggling to buy milk and diapers. And did I mention that the man I love more than anything in whole world is undergoing treatment for cancer, had an allergic reaction to one of his meds and is losing his hair? So it's a bit hard for me to feel badly for someone who got a speeding ticket or someone who's pissing away their parents' money or anyone who is feeling sorry for themselves but not making any effort to affect change in their lives.  
      It's not that I don't care. I really do. Friedrich Nietzsche said that suffering is like a gas. It always fills you up. So to someone who has no worries at all a paper cut can be all consuming. I don't want to minimize anyone's suffering, but when I think of all the tragedy in the world, it's hard not to. Somewhere in Haiti, a mother is feeding her toddler a "cake" made of dirt and lard because there is nothing else to eat. Somewhere in Iraq, one of our boys is thinking about his baby girl whose birth he missed while he was dodging improvised bombs on the road wondering if he will ever meet his child. Somewhere in Japan a family has walked away from everything they own and may never see their home again. Somewhere "in the ghetto" a toddler just smoked pot for the first time because his uncle thought it would be funny. Somewhere nearby, a mother has just buried her baby. Down the block from you, a woman was beaten last night and is desperately trying to cover up her bruises. The world is full of real tragedy. I count my blessings everyday. And I wish you would too. I know how lucky I am to live in a free country. I know how fortunate I am to have two beautiful healthy children. The fact that I have luxury to need to LIMIT my food intake almost seems unjust. I am sitting here in chemo with my husband feeling grateful for modern medicine and the kindness of strangers. Not to mention, the luxury of 3 or 4 hours that we have to spend alone together. (That, my friends, is a commodity.)  I actually made chocolate covered strawberries and brought apple cider "champagne" to make the best of our time together. We brought a DVD to watch and I made a nice lunch to share. I wish you could all do that. I wish everyone could just take a step back and find something joyful. Find something to be happy about. Life is too short to worry about a paper cut.
    And for those of you for who are really suffering. For those of you who can find nothing joyful in today. There is always tomorrow. The beauty of the Earth is that it keeps turning. The sun will come out tomorrow. (Bet your bottom dollar that) Tomorrow, there'll be sun! And even if Mr. Jones does look like Daddy Warbucks, we will be playing in that sunshine celebrating spring with our girls by making flower crowns out of forsythia. At the end of of each terrible day, the sun will set and then rise again. Today's suffering will soon be yesterday's, then last week's, and then last month's, and before long, last year's. You will get through it. You will endure.....we all will! I implore you. Take a look at the clouds in your life and find that silver lining.  And now it's time to give my attention back to the one who needs it. My chocolate covered strawberries await!


  1. You're a beautiful person, Melissa. I love you! ~~Christine Lee Atkins

  2. Well said Melissa. You write beautiful and everything you write is so true I got a misty eyed reading this .... Tell Jason that we are lifting you all up in prayer.For strenght, courage, and hope! Love you guys! Danielle Leacock aka ARF!(Have no idea why it says that but it does) lol