Monday, November 6, 2017

answering the tough question

I get asked how my dad is doing roughly 10 times a day, give or take. And I'm not complaining. It means the world to me that people care, and I would MUCH rather have people reach out and ask me then to ignore the elephant in a room and leave me feeling lonely and forgotten.

So, I don't mind you asking.

But here's the thing you should know.

You will not always like the answer.

I wish I could say "he's great!". But that's just not true.

He's really, really sick, and on any given day his status could decline further.

So when I'm asked how he's doing, and I say "not great", I see the look on your face. The sadness. And I quickly add little caveats like "but we're just taking it one day at a time!" or "but he's in good spirits!" because I don't want to leave you feeling sad or upset.

When I try to tell you his latest update, I feel like I just snowball into this long conversation  that you didn't really ask to be engaged in.

The truth is that this is a really challenging time for all of us, most especially my mom, and that at any given moment we could break or snap at you because we have more emotions running through our veins than we know what to do with. The truth is that we just need you to listen, to help us get the self care we all so desperatley need, to understand that it's hard to make long term plans because cancer is the most unpredictable little booger. We need you to offer something tangible to do, instead of asking if we need anything, because that question is much to broad to try to answer. The truth is that when you ask us how we are doing, or how my dad is doing, we're scared to respond and we may either babble on too much or give you a quick, closed off response. The truth is we just need our friends to embrace us, literally and figuratively.

As hard as it is when you ask, don't stop, or don't feel like you can't or you shouldn't. It's far more hurtful when you ignore it. I know, it's confusing. I know you don't always know what to say. And that's okay. Just be there. Preferably with open arms, at least for me, because I like hugs.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Be Kind To Yourself

As I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I looked at the date on the calendar and could not believe that it's been 1 month since our wedding day. It seems so long ago now, like a distant memory. All of the planning and prepping for that day, and it was over so fast. I will cherish the memories of our special day for as long as I live, but I wish I could go back and freeze time. I could live in those happy moments forever.

Life since we came back from the honeymoon has been a whirlwind. Outside my world, it's been the Vegas shootings, the sexual abuse/harassment stories, and all of the nasty fighting and hate that has been surrounding us. Inside my world? My work schedule has been demanding, exhausting, fulfilling, and exciting all at once. My dad has been back in the hospital since October 9th. My mom has been working so hard to take care of him and keep up their house, the bills, etc. My best friend gave birth to her beautiful baby girl.  This is an absolute blessing, and I am so excited, but I worry I won't be able to support my friend as much as I want to. My apartment is a mess, because Tom and I are both working hours that don't allow for much time to tidy up. I haven't been able to work out as much, and I've noticed a pattern with emotional eating.

I feel as though I am at the bottom of a hole, and someone keeps tossing in piles of dirt. The second I see a clearing, another shovel comes with more dirt, and I have to climb my way out again.

And with that feeling comes the immense guilt as a side topping. I feel selfish for feeling this way. I know that others are suffering far worse than I am, so the negative thoughts in my brain tell me that I have no right to be complaining, that I should just keep my mouth shut and keep moving, that my problems/challenges are not validated. I beat myself up for feeling anxious/overwhelmed. I worry that I am not being a good enough daughter/friend/employee/coworker. That if I say no to someone, I am letting them down. Even as I write this post, I am worried that people reading this will think that I am being selfish or whiny.

I wish that I would start to believe all the things that I tell other people who may have found themselves in these situations. That I can't fix everything. That I can't be everything to everyone. That I can only do so much. And, perhaps most importantly, that I need to take care of myself. My initial instinct in life is to see how I can be of help to others around me. I see or hear other people struggling, and I go to help them. This is one of my greatest gifts, but also a hinder, because I hit burn out.

Right now, I'm not taking care of myself. I'm not saying very nice thing to myself, and not treating my body in a way that I know will renew my energy and refocus my mind. Someone in my circle told me that I am dehydrating myself, because I keep pouring out water without filling up my cup. (Also, in a literal sense, I haven't been good about drinking my water!)

So how do I fix it? Since I'm so big on fixing things, how do I step outside everything else happening and do a better job of taking care of myself? For one thing, I'm going to try to be better at drinking that water. I'm going to try to make time for workouts, and not feel guilty about choosing the gym over working or attending to someone else's needs. I am going to try to put my phone down at night and read instead. I'm going to try to slow down. I'm going to resist reaching my hand into the candy jars at work. I'm going to try to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts, because I know the dark and cold days are coming soon.

Thank you for reading, my friends. Let's all care for each other and ourselves, with no expectations or limits. Ready? Break.

Monday, September 11, 2017

We are love.

Disclaimer: This is cheesy, but from the heart. Read on.

Tom and I are two people who were meant to be together. We are two people who signed up on a dating website, looking for love. We are two people who dated once, broke up, became friends, and then, slowly but somehow not so slowly, fell in love. We are two people who are getting married in just a few weeks. We are two people who understand each other, who embrace each other, who encourage one another. We are two people who were lucky enough to find one another.

I believe that Tom and I are a combination of the love that surrounds us. We are the love of our parents. Both mine and his have stood by one another through very difficult times, putting love and family first. They have brought the words "dedication", "commitment", and "partnership" to life. We are the love of our siblings, each so different but each so wonderful. We are my sister's patience, my brother's humor, and Nick's perseverance. We are the love that we have seen our siblings show their partners. We have grown tremendously through their examples. We are the love of of nephews and niece, who light up our lives and make us want to be better and to do our part to make a better, brighter world.

We are the love of our friends, who bring so much joy and laughter to our lives, who have stood by us and watched us grow. The memories we've made with our friends, and the examples they have been in our lives, have made life a little more fun, a little less scary, and a lot more beautiful.

We are the love of God. My very favorite quote from Les Miserables says "To love another person is to see the face of God". I am not quite sure I really knew what that meant until I loved Tom. Although our religious views differ, I know with full confidence that God brought us together, and that the Love God instilled in both of us is what has kept us together.

Lastly, I am Tom's love. I am his patience, understanding, compassion, encouragement. I am more "me" because of him, he's brought out the very best in me, and continues to love me even when I am at my worst. He is the only person I could ever imagine having by my side, forever and always. He is my love.

On September 23rd, we will be celebrating our love and our commitment to one another. Every single person in that chapel and in that reception hall has been an impact on the way Tom and I live our lives. It is your love that inspires us, and our love for each of you goes beyond measure. It's a day of celebration. My greatest hope is that we hold on tight to the love we feel at weddings, and we go out in the world and spread it- to everyone we meet, no matter how different they are from us.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Dad is an Overcomer

Note: I wrote this blog post last Thursday but have been waiting to post until we received official news on my dad's test results.

I lost my car in a parking garage today. In my defense, it was a very confusing parking garage, and I was trying to carry my heavy work bag, purse, VERY strong coffee, and vegan granola bar from the hipster coffee shop. After walking a few laps and taking trips up and down the steps, I did find my car.

I only had a slight moment of panic. I remained relatively calm, sipping on that super strong coffee. For a split second, I did think "okay but what if my car was gone? What would I do?"

I would probably call my dad.

At least, that's what I would have done 5 years ago.

I wouldn't now, he has enough to deal with. But is the first person I would think to call.

Because for the majority of my life, my dad was that person I called in crisis when it related to cars or money. Car accident? Call dad. Car battery dies on the freeway? Call dad. Over draft my bank account? Call dad.

And he always knew how to fix it, without judgment or overreacting.

I learned at a fairly young age that my dad was unique. Not only did he care for his three children, but he often served as a "second dad" to our friends. Everyone who knows my dad adores my dad. I have always seen his strength, his compassion and his gentle understanding. When he was diagnosed with cancer nearly four years ago to the date, it rocked our world. Suddenly, he needed us. The four years to follow have been incredibly rocky, full of ups and downs. I've written about them plenty of times before but I will not go into it here. I will just say that I have watched my dad suffer, in more ways than I ever thought possible, but time and time again, he has pulled through.

This guy is a true hero, even though he doesn't always see it. He has sailed through every single hurdle that this damn disease has put in front of him. He has never shown any hint of giving up. He is not letting this disease win. He has taken cancer for a ride. And even though he needs us and needs help now more than ever, he's still beating the odds.

Earlier this summer, we didn't think my dad would make it to the fall. On one of those days in the hospital, just shortly after he came out of a sort of comatose state, he looked me in the eye and said "I'm gonna make it". I asked him "make it to what?" And with all the confidence in the world, he said "September 23rd".

My wedding date.

The day before this happened, he didn't even know our names. But he pulled through, like he always does, and he's fought every single day since then so that he CAN and WILL make it to September 23rd- and beyond.

He is a rockstar, a warrior, a superhero, a fighter. He is my dad and I couldn't be more proud of him.

And let's not forget the woman that has stood behind him, walking right beside him through this entire journey. Mom, we know that you are the secret wings behind dad, pushing him, carrying him, encouraging him. None of us could do this without you. We love you.

Dad, your strength and determination is not only admirable, it's contagious. When you fight, we fight. We are your army, standing behind you in the front lines. You don't give up, so we keep marching on, picking you up when you get weak, but you are the one actually fighting this battle. And you're winning.