The Cure 

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Maybe the only true cure for cancer is compassion?

 As the disease spreads, so does kindness. No matter how aggressive of a cancer it is, I’ve never seen it outgrow compassion. 

When this bully shows up to threaten a life, love promptly shows up to defend and fight back. 

Unlikely people and communities band together. 

The many languages of love soften the grim diagnosis.  

Financial & logistical worries shrink with selfless donations of money, time, and acts of service. 

Thoughtful gifts bring much needed joy. 

Hands are held, hugs are given, & tears aren’t shed alone. 

Words of hope resonate louder & echo more than any of the scary medical lingo . 

Ceaseless praying seems to be the only thing that keeps the fear at bay. 

During the fight, silver linings are discovered in the darkest of circumstances: blessings counted, hope sought, strength found, grievances forgiven, souls saved, priorities reorganized, selfishness eradicated, hearts mended & lives changed forever.  

Cancer may win some battles, but LOVE wins the war! 

A Road Trip with Peace & Joy 

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So…I quit my job. 

And before you ask, no I don’t have anything lined up. Well..not exactly, I do have peace and joy waiting for me. 

Every time I say that statement, I envision two bohemian chicks with sunglasses, cutoff jean shorts, billowy and soft graphic tees (no bras-duh) with bangle and hemp bracelets lining their wrists and arms. 

They’re smiling and waving to me while standing in front of an old cream colored, VW van. And everything inside of me says I’m well over due for a road trip with them. 

Peace is blonde with dreadlocks. Joy is rocking a pixie cut. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them, that I can hardly recognize their faces. 

Peace’s purposefully tangled hair tells a story of life not going as smoothly as she hoped. However, at the same time it shows how she grew from her struggles and turned them into something unique and beautiful. 

Her eyes reflect the beauty all around her. They don’t have a solid color and even if they did there wouldn’t be a name for it. Her kind eyes show no fear and exude confidence in the most humble of ways. They aren’t intense and challenging. It’s more like they assure the person who gazes into them that everything will be okay. They mesmerize you into forgetting your worries. 

An awkward hug doesn’t exist with Peace. Her embrace envelopes you. No matter what angle you approach her she always finds a way to press her heart next to yours seamlessly. The beat of her heart is so strong and steady it automatically overpowers the heart pressed up next to it. The next thing you know, your heart is beating in rhythm with hers and for some unexplainable reason it feels as though your blood runs a little smoother and warmer through your veins. 

From far away she looks tiny but the closer you walk toward her the bigger her presence becomes. And once you are in her aura, you feel this innate desire to never leave. 

While Peace radiates calmness, Joy’s aura shoots out sparkles and color at a rapid pace. If the world is mainly black and white, she would be a rainbow with polka dots. There’s just a lot of happy going on there. 

Joy’s physical frame is smaller than Peace’s but her attributes make her oh so mighty. Petite with different colored hair every time I see her, it’s like she can be happy no matter what shade of color life throws her way. 

Her eyes are dark. When you look into them you can tell they are muting out the ugly she has seen in the past. However, that thought is a fleeting one because within nano seconds her smile and the glow from her skin distract you from anything she might have witnessed with those eyes. And her perseverance to smile in spite of pain is contagious. 

Gratefulness is sewn into every fiber of her being. I think it’s the well from where she draws her boundless, positive energy. 

While Peace is apt to sit still, take everything in, comfort you with her hugs and quiet presence-Joy is more likely to be bouncing around (literally), smiling, singing, and encouraging you to engage your inner child.

I’d like to say she doesn’t have a care in the world but that’s more Peace’s story. Joy has concerns and troubles but none are bigger than her grin or gratitude. 

Just thinking about these two and who I am when I’m with them confirms I’ve made the right move. How could I think I could do life without them daily? How could I think that security, society’s expectations, and the fear of disappointing people were more important than the very things that make up my existence or at least make it worth living?? 

I leapt off the ledge not knowing what or who was waiting for me at the bottom. I did however know it had to be better than the suffering I was enduring. 

Since quitting my job, Joy, Peace and I have become inseparable. The three of us have ran off that old bastard, Anxiety and replaced him with Excitement. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I wake up and wait for the surprises and blessings God has in store for me daily. 

To Be Continued

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After a series of unfortunate events, I had come to the conclusion I was morbidly unhappy.
The term was new to me. I don’t know where it came from and hadn’t felt this way in years. I knew what the remedy was but was afraid of disappointing people.
I had come so far in the last three years. After my accident in 2012 (that left me crippled, jobless, and homeless), the kindness and love shown to me from friends and family helped get me back on my feet. I didn’t want to put myself back in that situation and didn’t want them to think their efforts were in vain. 
But we all have one precious life and mine was slipping away. I was suffering. I was losing weight, & crying all the time, stopped laughing, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and lost my sense of humor. 
The one thing that could always get me through tough times was the ability to joke about it. But all I heard in my head was “It’s not funny anymore!”

I felt like a shell of a human. I could feel every heart beat and wondered if it would be my last. 

I remembered a friend told me once that emotional suffering is the soul’s way of fighting for a better existence. This wasn’t the end for me but it needed to be the end of this chapter in my life. 
“You cannot live a brave life without disappointing someone. They have their own agenda. The ones who support you are rooting for your rise.” -Brenè Brown 

I clung to this quote as I proceeded to make one of the bravest decisions of my life. 
To be continued…

I Want My Mom!!! 

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Mom,
I know I only write you once a year but please know I miss you every moment of every day. But right now my eight year old inner child is screaming, ” I want my mom!!”

Do you remember the summer after my third grade year when I got sick at church camp and came home with a serious infection and had to be hospitalized? Remember when you kept having to leave the room with every test and procedure they were performing because you couldn’t stand seeing me so helpless and hurt? I had never wanted you to be by my side more than right then.   

More moments like that have come my way, mostly after you died and I faced young adulthood without you. 

Physical pain, an uncertain future, and broken hearted seem to be the triggers that make me cry out for you on the inside the most. 
I’ve got two of the three working for me right now. I need you so bad!

I go in for another surgery next week. This is my last chance at my knee being fixed once and for all. I’m hurting and I’m scared. 

Remember growing up I came to you with all my questions? Everything! I even came to you with the things that other kids would never dare ask their parent. But you always had an answer for me, even though I saw your eyes get big and watched you stumble over your words on a few of them. Since you’re not here to seek answers from anymore I have been turning to Google for help. 

The most popular question that has been “googled” by me lately is…”how to be non-weight bearing, in a straight leg brace, on crutches, while living alone for 6-8 weeks?”

No worries- there are actual articles with helpful hints on how to do this but I can’t help but think getting a “Life Alert” necklace wouldn’t be a bad idea- just in case. 

Necklace purchase aside, it’s times like this I think wouldn’t my life be so much easier if you were still alive? 

I would have a home to go to where I could stay and not feel like a burden. 

I wouldn’t have to practice getting in and out of the shower on one leg because you’d be there to help me. 

I would be able to go to you-not Google-for guidance with all the questions I have on how to navigate through this world. 

This thought doesn’t slip my mind either…”Maybe if you were still here I’d have a family of my own because I wouldn’t be caught in the dichotomy of being so hungry for love and also afraid of it.”

The point to this letter is that I miss you and in times like this I can’t help but feel a little screwed that I don’t have you.

What I do have are nuggets of truth that I cling to…

I whole-heartedly believe a mother’s love is eternal and because I was loved by you, I can face anything life throws my way. 
“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”                                  -Marion C. Garretty 

Love, Elyse 

  
P.S. My memory of you is starting to return. I take solace in it. You’ll notice I shared more memories about you in this letter than I have in the past. Maybe time isn’t a healer but good memories are? 

Remember how you used to start or end a speech with a quote? You’ll notice I did the same. Thanks for passing on your writing skills. I love you. 

Desert Island 

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Maybe the reason she has yearned for the beach her whole life is because she has always felt like a desert island.    She can see people and they can see her. They admire her and are curious about her and she them.  But she’s uninhabitable, a day trip where you bring your own necessities, because she doesn’t have the very things you need to survive. 

You’ll have fun, leave feeling refreshed and inspired. You’ll make plans to come back and you more than likely will. But you’ll never stay the night on this island, she is not cut out for residents. 
People have tried to inhabit her and you can see the burnt down remains of their efforts in different areas on the island.   The first site of ruins gives you hope. “Someone was able to build here once before, surely it can be done again?!”

But then you keep exploring the island and that hope fades with each set of ruins you stumble upon.    The island has a love-hate relationship with the ruins. She can view them as decoration, tangible proof she was loved. But she also can’t help but view them as defecation. The litter left behind from once hopeful builders, who sold the island on their blue prints, convinced her this construction project would last, that they were a better builder than the one before,  cleared her land, tried to create a foundation, and then acquiesced to walking away when they realized the island was right, she truly is uninhabitable.  

 

Heart Murmurs 

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A throwback from several years ago-in honor of Heart Month! Thank you to my friend Kaia, who did a series of paintings based off of this piece of work. 

My heart has been awakened to the truth that it DOES exist and IS strong. I also sense it maybe loves harder than most hearts. I can’t help but fear its potential, its capacity, and the future that awaits it. 

The harder a person loves, the more feelings they’ll experience. The bigger the heart the bigger the hurt. 

  

Unbreakable hearts don’t exist. Hardened hearts didn’t suit me. Wicked hearts aren’t acceptable. 

And so I am left out here in the world completely aware of this thing that grows more and more love inside of it with every beat. This thing that possesses a great power. It’s so huge, I can’t hide it and fear it is just sitting out on display, in a state of vulnerability  for all to see.

 Hiding it is my self protective instinct. Sharing it is my natural one. 

You Matter.

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Once in awhile we need reminders that our presence on this earth, the very path we are on, the exact moment we are in…matters. It matters not just to us but other lives too. It could be a life you know, a life you’ll never know, or a life you will soon meet.

Tears of gratitude roll down my face as I sit on this airplane and think about the events that just happened. The first leg of my journey (a flight from FL to Atlanta) I fell asleep calculating up how much this little vacation, I just splurged on, cost me. I was starting to regret spending so much money before the sun, sand, and sea exhaustion caught up with me and I fell asleep.

I woke up when we landed in ATL. It was past dinner time and I had very little time to find something to eat before boarding my next flight. I kept walking from one small stand selling smooshed sandwiches for $10, to the next. I wanted one last good meal and maybe even a Starbucks coffee before ending my vacation but was bitterly disappointed with my options and time constraint. While browsing one of these overpriced food stands I overheard a man telling the woman working there something and waving a box of Benadryl in his hand. Automatic assumption was-she sold him something he was allergic too. I quickly moved on from that food stand and decided to eat the Atkins bar I had in my bag.

A short while later, I went and stood at my gate. I noticed a commotion and saw some people gathered around a middle aged man. It was the man from the food stand who had the Benadryl. I saw them asking for a doctor and telling people to call 9-1-1.

I plowed through the onlookers to the action takers, while reaching for the one thing I try never to leave home without…Prednisone. My uncle taught me years ago that a crushed up prednisone under the tongue can help with allergic reactions. I whipped out my medicine bottle and dropped the prednisone into the hands of a pilot who was the main action taker. I vaguely remember people telling me, “he has already had two Benadryl.” I stopped myself from saying, “and look how well that’s working for him” and continued to instruct the pilot on what to do with the pill.
As quick as I arrived “on the scene” I disappeared into the crowd, watching from afar as the man started catching his breath, speaking, and eventually laughing.

I was already boarded on the flight when the ambulance showed up. An announcement was made over the PA that this would be a peanut free flight. Shortly after the announcement was made the man walked onto the plane.

To summarize- I’m moved that I took that info my uncle gave me to heart, that I took this vacation, wound up on the flights I did, walked the crappy food stand path I did, overheard the conversation I did. It doesn’t even matter how much this vacation cost at this point, because everything in me knows I was supposed to take it. A life depended on it.

It feels good to know my presence in the world makes a difference to someone-even if they’ll never know it. I truly feel these things happen way more often than we will ever know. A random moment, a path, an action that changes the course of someone else’s life in a big way.

For example: let’s say you turn down a job offer. The runner up takes it. They meet the love of their life in the new town where they moved to after taking the job. Those two have a baby. That baby grows up and donates a kidney to someone who would have surely died without you turning that job down.

A little far fetched example but everything in this world is so grand and wonderful and interconnected and we never get to see half of it. But once in awhile you get to see a moment like today, a reminder that encourages you to keep going, an affirmation that you are on the right path and that you matter.

WARNING
This is a non-fictional piece of writing meant to relay a story of hope, not to be used as medical advice .