Hello Family and Friends,
It has been a while. Actually, it has been too long. Too long since we have had an embrace, since we have sat together and visited, or even since we have escaped to do something magical. I pray that you are healthy. I hope that your community is doing everything it can to keep you that way.
March 15th is a day that I usually give myself to sit and think about Kayla’s journey, the “what-ifs” and contemplate what could be different. One day. Sometimes I publicly share this in a post, a write up or with a phone call to a family member, to cope with the changes that occurred in our life. March 15th, 2010 was the day that our life changed, she was diagnosed with her brain tumor, had emergency surgery, followed with more surgery, ICU care, step-down units, radiation and finally lifelong management of endocrine and neurological changes. What we dealt with was on the micro level, in which it was our personal life that had to adjust to these changes. However, today with the COVID Pandemic, it has become macro, everyone is having to make adjustments to their lives and livelihood. There has been a lot of fear, information overload, misinformation, poor coping strategies, and plain old survival tactics being employed (I vividly remember the one foot in front of the other days). However, I am also seeing strength and compassion, as well as many people tapping into this idea of resiliency that actually exists!When something bad happens, it is not ideal, but what do you do? You have to deal with it. When Kayla was diagnosed, I couldn’t run away or pretend it wasn’t happening, or worse, think that the medical system wanted to just experiment with my child (this was something that was actually told to me), I went with the evidence that was in front of me. The CT showed a large mass in her brain, that was blocking the passage of her spinal fluid, causing severe hydrocephalus (water on the brain), which could have taken her life faster than the tumor itself. I learned through this experience that stressful situations bring out the best and worst in people, societies and government, through policy and reform. This was on the personal micro level, in which we had to grow in turmoil.
We all just need to sit for a minute, evaluate our situation and determine if we can shift our perspective. Are we sitting at home with a stocked house, functioning utilities and a good support system? If this is you, we should ask ourselves how we can be of service to those who are struggling to make ends meet, may be living with an abuser and can’t escape this “safer at home”, or does not have running water to perform simple hygiene tasks. There are those that will survive and this virus will not impact them in any way but their pocketbook, however, there are those, whose families will be ripped from their lives, with decreased ability to mourn them, and have an even greater loss to their economic livelihood. I was able to see this with our own micro trauma, this hurt me financially, I am still paying medical bills for something that happened a decade ago, however, I feel that I am so dang lucky that I have this amazing human.Another thing that I sit and think about with everyone that I have met that is facing a life change, is the advice that my daughter’s oncologist gave me when she was diagnosed. The words in my mind of changed, but theme was, that I had to let go of the Kayla I brought in on March 15th, I had to embrace this new human that is going face a lifetime of obstacles and challenges, and if I look at every hurdle as an obstacle and a challenge, that is what they would be. Rather, I would have to challenge myself to embrace our life as a new normal, look at these obstacles as learning opportunities to help increase her self-reliance (and mine) and challenge her to embrace life, so that she can live her best one. I hope that people can see that what is happening is much more than themselves, there is more at stake.
We all have this opportunity right now to act and do something bigger than what our autopilot suggests we do. Rather than sharing the popular opinions as facts, can we become mindful consumers and better scrutinize the sources that we are sharing? Can we find ways to check in on our neighbors? A note in their box with your contact information and your schedule in which you go shopping to help lighten their load? Can we check in with local support groups, soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, nursing homes, to determine if there is any way you can help fill a void? Can we reassess ourselves, our language and fears to make sure that we are not engaging and increasing the growing wave of xenophobia and hate, destroying relationships.? Can we find new ways to nurture ourselves to grow?
Right now folks. Decide. Decide to be bigger than the global diagnosis. Grow, embrace this discomfort, and become better because you did not let it hurt you or your family, friends or neighbors. Our ancestors knew how to be uncomfortable, I still remember many of the strategies that my depression-era grandparents did to stretch a buck, and I can’t even imagine my ancestors who were the first to discover NM, the struggles they had! We can do more. Fortunately, and unfortunately, we are all more connected through technology, our words and actions matter, and you will be remembered for how you acted. What we do now, will shape our tomorrow.
Be safe. Follow the guidelines. Stay strong and explore new ways to live your life. Kayla and I certainly did, and I am sure we can all thrive with the right mindset!Love and one day a huge bear hug!
Melinda and Kayla