It's almost like a return to childhood. Maybe it's the occasional feelings of helplessness and complete dependence, feelings I haven't felt (and worked all those teenage years not to) in a very long time. But I've surrendered to the security blankets, stuffed animals and thumb sucking (figuratively) when necessary.
My eyes widen at cookies like I'm a five-year-old and I lick my fingers after brownies like one too. I don't even think about calories and how that gooiness will later render itself on my hips anymore. I just think about how delicious they are and eat them. The chemo seems to kill any chance of gaining weight anyway, in fact I keep dropping it (it's my new diet secret, everyone should try it (sarcasm))! Our cousins sent a basket of Mrs. Fields cookies, some even shaped like flowers with smiley faces on them and I was instantly as happy as a clam. An aunt gave me a stuffed turtle and I have it prominently displayed on the TV stand and I play with it and take it with me to treatments and it makes me smile.
My sister-in-law, a second grade teacher, sent me a laminated book created by her class full of "Poems to Make Me Laugh" and "Pictures to Make Me Smile" and boy did it work. Poems about splitting pants on the playground or Helga's bad hygiene were just what the doctor ordered. And I've always loved children's artwork, but it never struck me so much. I literally started bawling looking at these beautiful, calming pictures they drew of rainbows, space and underwater scenes ... just breathtaking!
Dumb bathroom humor jokes, courtesy of several joke books people have sent, and TV shows like "Wipeout" where people bounce around and wrench their bodies on ridiculous obstacle courses with challenges like "big balls" and "sucker punch" sliding around in shaving cream and mud wearing neon-colored spandex are HILARIOUS to me.
When in the Cancer Center waiting room I don't reach for Time or Newsweek, all I want is trashy celeb mags: US Weekly or People, it doesn't matter. These are things I've never read in my life, but they now provide such an escape to such an abstract world of stresses over celeb baby bumps, drunken rampages or bad hair days that it ironically melts away the things that I worry about. If I try to read about important social issues like starving children in Africa or the threat of nuclear attacks in Korea I just cry, literally. I've never been a crier but my emotions are at peak. If I see a baby, I cry. If I see a beautiful tree, I cry. If I see a dead animal on the side of the street, I cry.
I used to listen almost exclusively to NPR news and other topical talk radio when in the car, now I hop back and forth between hip-hop and country. How can I feel bad about my problems when these people can't be with the one they love so they "kiss them through the phone" or have to "do the Helen Keller and talk with their hips." Country can be even better: Taylor Swift is my new favorite. It's much happier singing along about high school romance and fairy tale princes than deep, haunting lyrics. And then there's the new Dave Matthews CD that I am in love with --- couldn't have come out at a better time: "Funny the way it is if you think about it ..."
Several friends and my sister have burnt me CDs full of feel-good and lashing out songs which I love. A good soundtrack makes any obstacle easier to overcome and singing out loud has been fantastic therapy. But the one that may have taken me most by surprise was the arrival in the mail of the newest Miley Cyrus CD: the soundtrack to the Hannah Montana movie with a note from Vanessa saying that she always thinks of me when she hears "The Climb." I love Miley Cyrus more than ever now and I'm not ashamed ... I'll sing right along with all the tweens out there. So I'll close with the wise (and simple) lyrics of Miss Hannah Montana:
The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going
And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on
'Cause there's always gonna be another moutain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!