Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reviewing life, inspired by a bowl of mashed potatoes

Looking back can be really hard sometimes.

I have a dear mutant friend whose son has just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  I have been trying to provide support, encouragement and tips for what could lay ahead for them.  This requires that I recall our journey of three years ago in detail, revisiting the challenges, and remembering the fear. 

I am so grateful to be on this side of the nightmare.  I shake myself, shedding the worries that cling to those events.  I have to remind myself that our reality is different now.  Those trials are currently behind us.  May they always remain so.

Looking back can also be lovely

Last night at dinner, Brent thoroughly delighted in a side dish of mashed potatoes.  I was transported back to a time before our challenges, when the kids memorized poetry with me, and learned interesting things that had far less of a practical application than they currently do. 

"Mashed Potato/Love Poem."  by Sidney Hoddes

If I ever had to choose between you
and a third helping of mashed potato,
(whipped lightly with a fork
not whisked,
and a little pool of butter
melting in the middle...)

I think
I'd choose
the mashed potato.

But I'd choose you next.

We pulled out the poetry books from the bookshelf in the kitchen, and read through some of our favorites, right there at the dining room table.  In our home, we have always been drawn to two types of poems: those filled with beauty, and those bursting with humor.

This exercise was rather like recalling a dream for me, not in the moments upon waking, when the details are fresh and crisp, but after lunchtime with the fuzzy bits coming to your mind all out of order.  Last night I longed for the warmth and quiet of my bed, to somehow return to that now foreign story, filled with poems, innocence and promise.

But seldom can you revisit those sorts of dreams.

Looking forward can be exciting.

My life has taken a big turn, obviously, from what I had ever imagined for myself.  I am working with some terrific and passionate people in the non-profit world.  I am doing things that I would never have found the gumption to do, coming from that quiet domestic place that I enjoyed with our children. 

While I would have preferred to never have been wrenched from that peaceful life and thrown most unwillingly into a world of doctors and researchers, there is joy to be found in what I do now. There is optimism.  There is anticipation, mixed with utter bewilderment that I am trying, and actually doing some of these things.

It is very different from my former life which focused on home and hearth, teaching our children history and poetry.  But it is also very different from living on a pediatric oncology floor, so I am grateful.

Looking forward can be intimidating.

I think about the future, of our children going off to college. Of research.  Of the things that I would like to get done before we might become medically busy again.  There is a pressured determination that comes with LFS, to reach goals while you are afforded the opportunity.   I see it in my mutant friends.  I see it in myself.

But I suspect that most mothers have a similar sense of urgency, as their children grow up and prepare to leave.  Our family dynamic will be different when Alex goes off to college in a year and a half.  I am trying to make the most of this time together, particularly as we have missed so much of it in recent years.

The changes that we have gone through will prepare us for the transitions that will come. I know that change is the only constant.  I try to be open to what the future will bring.  I am really hopeful that it will again be filled with poetry, humor and beauty.

But Brent says that he would be satisfied if it simply offered an extra helping of mashed potatoes.

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