I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘family’

Front Row Seat

Yaya’s funeral was today.

I know. That was fast, right?

A timeline:

April 9 – discovery of tumors in lungs, pancreas, and liver after complaint of pain in sides.

April 12 – PET scan to determine if tumors are benign or cancerous.

April 15 – return to PCP who confirms she has cancer.

April 22 – meeting with oncologist who says the average life expectancy is 3 to 4 months, but he has seen as long as 1 year and as short as 2 weeks.

May 6 – last breath taken.

I have never experienced anything like this, and while there have been many nights with little sleep, I have seen God working in many beautiful ways. She was lucid the entire time. She only complained of nausea 2 days before she died and we solved that with stool softener, as opposed to the excruciating, debilitating pain that often comes with cancer. I didn’t anticipate that I would spend my birthday writing an obituary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way – it was truly a pleasure to ensure that she was recognized properly. Moreover, when I needed love the most, people in my life were already primed to give it to me because it was my birthday. God spared her by not allowing her to suffer and spared me the additional sorrow of having to share the day of her death with the day of my birth.

We spent her last weekend making sure all of her needs were met, summoning hospice nurses when needed. On Friday, Yaya had said to her regular nurse, “See you Monday – if I am still here.” She insisted that Pete not leave my brother-in-law alone because she felt she was going to die soon. I went back home and brought enough things for us to stay for the weekend. I will never forget the angel of a nurse that God sent both on Saturday and Sunday, who warned us that her death was imminent. Yaya was ready. She had spent the previous weekend giving us her things. She had told me she was tired and that we were going to be okay.

Pete and I each had one of her hands as her breathing slowed to a full stop at 4:10 AM. She was peacefully in her bed, just as she had wished. She knew we loved her and we knew she loved us. I stared in disbelief, as I had been in and out of her presence all week, checking for the rise and fall of her chest as she appeared to sleep. She still looked like she was only sleeping, but now she had achieved full healing.

I knew church today would be strange. I have had many family members die, but this is the closest I have been to the deceased – both for her death and in terms of relation. I always think of Gerard Manley Hopkins Spring and Fall to a Young Child at funerals – with each passing day, and indeed with each passing, my own is closer. In the busy-ness of life, it is easy to forget that we are mortal and one day will take our last breath. I hope not only to honor my mother-in-law’s life, but her death as well.

I will always cherish this ring she gave me.

Advertisements

Can I Get Hope With That?

I come from a very large family. My Dad is #6 out of 10. My mother is #6 out of 9. I have grown up celebrating this family reunions – some more organized than others – and now that I am in my 30s, there is a lot more gray at these reunions than I remember. Have you ever seen a sign like this at a workplace –

Days_Without_Accident Lord. I feel like someone is always either going to the hospital or coming out of the hospital. Perhaps there were never really carefree days, but 20 years ago – even 10 years ago – it didn’t feel like there was always something wrong with somebody I care about.

Adonis’s Mom went to the doctor last Tuesday complaining of pain in her chest. They ran some scans. Tumors on her pancreas and lungs. We went to the doctor two days ago for confirmation after a PET scan, and sure enough, it appears her cancer is advanced. We do not go to the oncologist for further information until next week, but her doctors have recommended hospice and palliative care for her.

I have cried almost every day since getting the news. She is 90 years old, but I am still not ready to let her go. I am not going to eulogize her here because dammit she is still making jokes and seems at peace with the whole situation, but I wish I weren’t having to think about this now – for several reasons. I don’t want her to suffer, but as long as she is doing pretty well, I want her here on earth. Adonis loves her to pieces and I’m doing my best to be here for both of them.

She even made me laugh on the way home from the doctor, who had said that one of the signs that her time is limited would be that she would be losing weight from lack of appetite.  We stopped at McDonald’s to grab something quickly. She got a quarter pounder and a large fry, and when we arrived home she shared with me and added salt to hers. I don’t know if she did that for our sake, but she ate half of the fries and half of the burger. So there it is. As long as there are fries, there is hope.

Tired but Inspired: Race Report

As you are fully aware, cancer sucks. The many volunteers behind One Step Closer to the Cure are tirelessly working so that no one else’s Auntie has to be taken prematurely by ovarian cancer. Collectively, my family did our part contributing about 100,000 literal steps. Here is how my 6,000 went:

1. 1-2,000

If you want to know how I think I’m going to do during a race, all you must do is check my playlist. Did I set it to shuffle? I’m just here for the cause. Perhaps I spent significant time carefully crafting both the sequence and length of the list. That means the next 33 (Lord willing) minutes are not a drill. When the horn sounds, I’m feeling great out of the gate, man. I’m gonna run this bad boy all the way through. Early on, I experienced the runner’s high that keeps me coming back. Seeing so many teams and friends coming together always helps to add to my gooey feelings. Everyone’s a champ so far, even me!

2. 2,001 – 4,000

It’s…it’s kind of hot out here. I wanted to push but – eh. I have noticed recently that there’s something about turning in races that is a mental drag for me. It used to exhilarate me, as I would focus on the fact that I am progressing, but right now I deem to be in a place where I think to myself “ugghhhh there’s more!” and my pace drops accordingly. I started running some, then walking some, but still trying to meet my goal. Plus, running whenever I saw my family.

3. 4,001 – finish

Okay so maybe my goal was a *tad* ambitious based on my current fitness level. I blame the stress and snacks that Hurricane Irma swept in! She was a big heffa, you ‘member? I was moving forward but “Imma own this!” had devolved into “Ugh let’s finish and get breakfast.” Then the most amazing thing happened.

“Hi Daphne! You’re beautiful! You’re doing great, keep going!”

Several different waves of emotion came over me. Thankfulness for being Daphne’s niece. Humbled by the fact that she can still touch lives, 7 years after her death. GUILT! For whining about a slow pace in a healthy body. This woman who God brought to me at just the right time was cheering ME on. I am complaining about fighting 3.1 miles and she is literally fighting for her life.  I learned later that she also serves on the board of the foundation that puts on the race. Man. I suck for thinking that I suck. I started running a bit more and digging until the end.

I need to pray for the spirit of people like that amazing lady and Auntie Daph to fill me, not just when I run but in my every day life. Every step God gives us is a blessing and it’s my prayer that I start to act like it!

The Reason: Race Report

My Auntie Daph continues to inspire me, 6 years after stupid old ovarian cancer took her from us. It pleases me to think that seeing her family unite around beating the cause that was the source of so much pain near the end of her life in a healthy way honors her. Makes beating my 5k time from a month ago seem like a silly thing with which to concern myself, no? 

If that last sentence made you laugh out loud, then you know me well. 

Did I mention that this was the Big One’s first 5k as well? She has been sharing her running achievements with me excitedly leading up to the race. Finally, I got one that enjoys the training! Like the young person with boundless energy she is, she decided to go to Halloween Horror Nights the night before. 

Lady J, Stepmother: “I hope she isn’t too tired! I want her to enjoy her first race experience!” 

Lady J, Nervous Runner: “I hope she doesn’t bust up my sleep coming home. My ass is not 20.” 
The first thought listed WAS my first thought. Honest. 

Guess what! God is awesome, and yesterday it was reflected in the fact that both the Stepmommy and nervous runner got their wishes! I felt something incredible on the course – *gasp* – a BREEZE! I had a goal in mind to do better than a month ago, but the feeling of just seeing where my body is at the moment was liberating. If I didn’t beat it, it is what it is. It’s nice having a cause like beating ovarian cancer to fall back on just in case you run the best race ever. I often  judge my effort based on if I want to stop running or how badly I want to see the finish line. “You can run for 10 more minutes! You can run for 9 more minutes and 30 more seconds! You can run for 9 more minutes and 28 seconds! Damn. Just keep going.” 

32:55! 32 seconds faster than a month previous. It’s like, my training has been effective or something. I had enough time to beg for water, tell Daddy how my run went, and cheer for my family as each of them crossed the finish line, including my girls, who were grinning from ear to ear. 


Running is powerful. Family is powerful. God is The Power. 

Lady J’s Christmas Reflections: The “J” is for Jerk.

Christmas The way Christmas is often celebrated sucks.

I had to word that carefully. As a Christian, the marking of the Savior’s birth is a pretty big deal. I have no desire to be blasphemous or flippant about it. It’s merely that all of the hoopla surrounding the observance – for me – doesn’t serve the purpose of celebrating His
birth. Forget about the supposed commercialism of the holiday and how some are up in arms about “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” “Oh, woe is me, a store is trying to sell more things!” That’s kind of the religion of business, no? I’m talking about familyism. And friendism. It’s y’all who ruined Christmas.

Let me tell you how.

A quick look through my previous posts will illustrate that I am fairly adept at expressing thankfulness for the blessings in my life throughout the year. Yes, of course there are times for me personally that make me reflect upon these blessings more than others, but it is definitely more often than the last 6 weeks of the year. So all you jokers come along, “Hey, it’s the holidays! I miss you. Let’s grab food/drink/swim/bike/run/whatever.” I am not in some black hole, inaccessible the first 10 months of the year – unless Coachie has me there, but even then I still get phone reception there. I get a little time to relax from work and all of a sudden because the Savior is born you want to blow up my phone. Quite frankly, if it is important for me to talk to or spend time with you around this time, I would have done so on stupid October 3. I’m not saying I’m above losing touch with important people. I’m just saying that I’m probably better at staying in touch than you are. 🙂

Then I hear the still, small voice.

“Hey Joan. I came because people are imperfect.”

I then am forced to take the time to reflect upon my own imperfections. Indeed, I am a thoughtful person, and one of the things I hate most is wronging someone unknowingly because it reminds me that I cannot be in control all of the time, even when I think I am. As good as I am at expressing my gratitude throughout the year, I will never be perfect.

I pray that in years to come, I am able to find both the solitude I need to strengthen my relationship with Christ and with others. Love is patient, wrote the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. I’ve got a long way to go.

Merry Christmas!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/ded/66011189/files/2015/01/img_3430.png

Shoutout Series: Prima!

Pree-muh. Spanish for “Best female cousin on the planet.” If you go to a Spanish-speaking country, however, a native speaker may tell you it just means “female cousin.” You and I know the truth.

My Prima is the daughter of my Daddy’s younger brother. We didn’t grow up in the same city and would only see each other on family holidays. She is 5 (and change) years my senior and it wasn’t until I was a teenager and she was one of those big college graduate people that we became besties. Y’all know. Chatting on AIM and ery’thang on the daily. We’s old.

It has been wonderful having my Prima to grow with and look up to. She’s much better than an older sister – I get an awesome auntie thrown in and no need to share my own amazing mother! Prima has been there to guide me through many of life’s rites of passage and helped me to become a stronger woman.

It’s awesome because while we have similar character, our temperaments are quite different. I’m the nice one, quite frankly. We can’t ever grow apart because I need her too much! Plus, she trains for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I’m sure I will need her to kick someone’s ass for me in case I can’t outrun him/her.

To my Prima Fabulosa. I’m glad you are my family! Thanks for helping Lady J to do it.

IMG_3030.JPG

Seventy Point Family: Real Talk, Part I

When I registered for Augusta on New Year’s Eve, I told my parents soon after. Mom’s response? “Unless you plan on texting from transition to let me know you’re okay, we’re coming.” Tee hee. I suggested to my father that we turn it into a field trip by stopping in his hometown of Rochelle, GA on the way there. He agreed and seemed pleased.

“How long is this business you’re doing again?” Mom would frequently ask. “70.3!” She would pause. “That’s how many miles you’re doing?” I would sigh, exasperated. “Why do we have to keep having this same conversation?” She finally replied to my satisfaction one evening in September. “It’s so long – I think I have a mental block against that distance.”

What I love about my parents is that while it may take them awhile to wrap their collective brain around something I’m doing, they are always ready to support me. As much as I’ve doubted myself along the way, I never questioned their support for me. I thank God that He allowed me to be born to parents who after almost 30 years are still invested in my growth. Good thing, too, because as I age I appreciate their love for me more and more.

After the race, we drove into Rochelle to the property where my grandfather used to work and my father was born. It was remarkable to meet the man who now owned the farm and see my Dad learn more about his personal history. My grandfather died before Baby J made her debut; I missed him by weeks! I actually am named after him – he was John. Dad always describes him as a man among men, who chose to make a grueling move from rural Georgia to south Florida to make a better life for his family. My father often says that he stands on the shoulders of a giant.

I am learning and accepting that I, too, stand on the shoulders of my amazing family. Whether it’s playing music or doing triathlon, I could not do any of it without their unfailing love for me.

I’m going to stop writing now. I’m starting to want to pay it forward with a family of my own. I have races coming up.

IMG_2226.JPG

N.B. – It’s fitting that 3M is in this picture taken before I lined up in my wave. Pretty sure she’s in for the Lady J long haul. ❤️

Tag Cloud