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

Posts tagged ‘mortality’

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.

How to Shed That Stubborn Weight for Good

I don’t want particularly want to go wedding dress shopping. 

If someone else had told me she felt similarly just a year ago, I probably would have thought she had cold feet or was choosing to marry the wrong person. Now that my warm feet are in the shoes, I understand that it is not necessarily the case. What kind of woman doesn’t like shopping? For clothes? For “her big day?”

The kind for whom this experience is less a chance to be a princess for a day than a massive reality check. 

I won’t dwell on how I feel about my body at the moment, but I will say that I wish there were a wedding pantsuit place. Just for an additional option. Shopping for a wedding dress, for me, is about two fundamental truths with which I must come to terms:

1. I’m going to die.

Hopefully, not before I marry the man that my imagination couldn’t have dreamed up. I’m not making it out of this relationship alive. While that thought may seem morbid, it’s dawned on me that this is probably the only thing in my life that I will ever do once. I buy a wedding dress and this phase of my life is done. I get married and I’m never doing it again. Married or single, each breath brings us closer to our last, but I’m not fooled by overpriced fabric. I know what this means. I’m thankful that I will have Adonis by my side, who, incidentally, takes my breath away. How are we going to live to make it count? How will our lives together impact the world around us for the greater good? Which brings me to – 

2. Being excited about my doing something everyone else is doing is bizarre. 

Every time I hear someone say “your big day” I throw up in my mouth a little. I hope our wedding day is incredibly special, and yes, certainly more fun than some of the weddings I’ve attended. No offense, married friends, but while this single girl was praying for your success as a couple she was also taking notes if she got bored! 😜 But I digress. How could I possibly feel special when there are entire industries dedicated to all the superficial crap of a wedding? Y’all ain’t been waiting on me. I am happy to do my part to contribute to our capitalist economy, but calm the hell down. 95% of women experience this before age 55. I’m just not gonna get TURNTUP over something anybody can do – and usually does. It’s a dress.

Being engaged has been interesting. Suddenly, people who seemed distant appear closer. I thought that this was simply another case of like attracting like, but I wonder if we all are just seeking human connections. How can you get married and not think about how inextricably interconnected we all are? I only crave authentic connections. “Lady J. Don’t even bother with a mermaid dress. You won’t be able to dance.” is valuable information. But I also want, “Lady J, don’t go to bed angry. As long as it is in your power, be at peace with those around you. Especially with that good-looking hubs.” And I NEED “Lady J, we might not be Adonis but we still need you” from my friends. Maybe some of the women whom I thought were just using me a placeholder until they found a man were just overwhelmed introverts, like me. We need each other. 

Before I become a wife, I must embrace my need for others, which is antithetical to a society that seems to make getting married “all about you.” Not only to love them, but to be loved by them. Fighting the power makes losing that last 10 pounds seem easy. Hopefully that burns calories, too. 


Seventy Point It’s Just Me! Why y’all trippin?


Tee hee. Hi!

I’ve gotta say, I am a *tad* overwhelmed by the amount and intensity of support and encouragement I am receiving regarding Sunday’s race. I wrote earlier this week about how I feel eerily unterrified about it. Among the other things that creep me out are the types of words being used to describe this undertaking. “Heroic. “Beyond Mortal.”

Now. This might be where you say, “Lady J. You know you have problems accepting praise.” To which I say, you’re absolutely right. However, I don’t think that’s what this is. Unless I am discussing food (I want to marry this sandwich. Joan Medianoche),I make a concerted effort to use my words conservatively. I want to say exactly what I mean in order for those with whom I communicate not to misunderstand. I want to convey my thoughts and thought process as accurately as possible. It is also a means of defense as offense, for I know that anything I say could be potentially held against me. I am a thinker – perhaps, to a fault. I understand and respect (mostly) that not everyone is like this and doesn’t necessarily put such thought into the words they use. A lot of people just – talk to say things.

That being said, the language utilized is coming from people I kinda care about. Could they know what they are saying and what I’m hearing? Let’s see what Oxford has to say about it, shall we?

Syllabification: he·ro
Pronunciation: /ˈhirō /
NOUN (plural heroes)

1 A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

Syllabification: mor·tal
Pronunciation: /ˈmôrdl /

1 (Of a living human being, often in contrast to a divine being) subject to death.

In the past 6 months I have been reminded just how mortal I am. I’ve battled plantar fasciitis, Ben and Jerry, and plain old laziness. Hell, I grew so frustrated at one point that I removed full Ironman, marriage, and Ph.D. from my bucket list, forever cursing all that is endurance related. Go ahead and check. Notice how 8-11 are still missing. The only reason I didn’t remove half-Ironman is because I already registered and dammit, I’m going to get my money’s worth from World Triathlon Corporation. Nope, definitely extremely mortal.

I suppose that does make this endeavor heroic, then. Swimming in open water is scary, and I’m doing it anyway. Red Rocket has all kinds of parts I don’t understand and I’m spending 56 miles with her. From there, I’ll have to take about 27,000 steps to the finish line.

Still. I protest. I feel like people typically use the word “hero” when they are referring to someone doing something they wouldn’t do. When I ran my first race, I was courageous. I loathed running when I registered for it. I weighed 30 more pounds than I do now. I remember waking up with the same nervous energy in the days leading up to the race as I have been this week. I was on top of the world after running 5k in 40:49, a time I’m fairly positive someone could power-walk if s(he) tried. I admit that I didn’t have the same relationships I do now, so I can’t positively that I would have been any less praised at the time. I narrow my eyebrows, nonetheless.

I think of my babies when I ask them to do heroic things, like share music and feelings with one another. I hope that they understand that I genuinely respect and admire them for making the effort to play the three notes that it takes to produce “Hot Cross Buns.” If risk is relative to the risk-taker, perhaps the application of the word “hero” is relative as well.

Maybe it is the cumulative heroism of this distance that makes it such a big deal. On those days where I considered quitting but chose to press on. The days where I had not so private meltdowns and lived to blog about it. I’ve had to fight my mortality quite a bit to get here. That’s noble-ish, at the very least.

*grins* Go ahead, y’all. Keep trippin’. I’ve earned it.

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