Wednesday, February 28, 2007

know a good wine for this cheese?


get ready for it. here it comes. the velveeta-est blog post in the history of this online journal. i just have been overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude lately- for various people in my life, for relative health, for opportunities and beauty.

Last Sunday, we bolted out of bed at dawn to hightail it back up to Boston to attend the Wellness Community's Caregiver of the Year brunch. it was an appreciation ceremony for several outstanding cancer care givers, of which Miss Jackson was one. they read part of my nomination* submission and gave her an elegant glass award. the food was mediocre and the ceremony a bit contrived, but the sentiment and the no-words-can-describe-it gratitude was real for every patient and survivor in that room.

i'm also obliged to so many other people who have either made this past year endurable and/or continue to grace my life- my mama, jamie, bess, jonathan, leslie, anna, uma, andres, jimmy & shirley, gioia, katie, evelyn, kent, linda, peter, erin, marie... i could go on and on and on. how blessed am I?? also for the awesome nyc folks who unfold their hospitality to me each weekend as i seek shelter for the 11pm-11am shift when st. vincent's visiting hours are closed: jason, mike, adam, corey- thank you. school continues to go well, another aspect of life that i am so thankful for. and whoever you are reading this right now- thank you too! it's awesome to get comments and emails from you.

i was discussing with my massage therapist today (yes, thanks also to MassHealth for my free complementary-medicine massages!) about how much you value things once you've been denied them. I have always been nerdy, but I really love my studies now that I've had to endure a yearlong hiatus.

today was a glorious day here in boston, where the weather taunts you with a spring day only to laugh at you with a snowstormy forecast. i drove with the sunroof open and walked with the heat baking my "fluffy" (characterisation courtesy of chris doten) head of wiry hair. this is so velveeta, but i gotta say it: it was one of those days that puts a spring in your step and makes you just grateful to be breathing.

but of all of those things, i am most grateful for the smiles and chuckles uma has shown me over the past month. to think that it could have gone differently, to think that a lifetime without one more sarcastic eye roll was possible thirty days ago... it's almost too much to even consider. every day brings a little tiny iota of progress, for which i know we all feel enormous gratitude and hope. so, i appreciate the med team at the hospital and all of the people who have visited/prayed for/sent messages to Uma. she's gonna teach us the meaning of strength and, i have a feeling, the meaning of appreciation soon enough.

* This application could not have reached me at a more apt time. I nominate my sister, Jaci, as an extraordinary caregiver. When I was suddenly diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in February of this year, I had been attending The Fletcher School at Tufts and been an active, very healthy 26-year-old. Strange body aches led me to the campus clinic and their blood test sent me, bewildered and feeling fine, to the ER at Brigham. That night, when we found out my WBC was 750,000, was my sister’s 24th birthday. She and my Mom arrived the next morning and Jaci has not left since. I am not sure where to begin to describe the kind of loyalty and care Jaci has heaped upon me. Although I had friends and other family visit and pitch in tremendously, Jaci has been my caregiver from day One. She had been in the middle of earning her masters in California (where we are both from), working as a counselor, and teaching kids- certainly involved and invested in her life on the west coast. But she never questioned or backed off from her commitment to me. She slept in my hospital room or organized my friends in shifts during my one month internment. Since then, I’ve had radiation, chemo, and all the crazy personality-changing experiences and drugs that cancer brings. Through it all, Jaci has made me laugh every day, she’s held my hand at every biopsy/shot/spinaltap/etc, she’s encouraged me to use art/massage/acupuncture to alleviate the pain, and she’s been my brain and spokeswoman when I can’t remember pills/advice/or that there is a tomorrow. Not to mention she introduced me to Tivo, which is quite the saving grace of TV! I want to expand a bit more on Jaci’s sense of humor, which, along with her cooking, has probably gotten me this far-NO JOKE. She is so witty, so down to earth, so wise, in particular contrast to my asinine nerdiness or the melancholy months of treatment. We are still working through this, but, as I said, the timing of this award is so perfect. I am finally in between my Intensification Phase and Maintenance. Although Maintenance is still another 15 months of chemotherapy, we expect that I will have more independence and am considering moving back to California when I feel strong enough. It’s almost been a year. One year. Would I give up my life for an indefinite amount of time for someone else? Would you? Jaclyn did and does and now that I’m on the cusp of a new phase, I am eager to let her go and know that I have a model of strength, selflessness and courage that few could emulate, and a debt that I could never repay.


Erik said...

i am grateful for YOU, erica.

Erik said...
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