As most of you know by now, I have been in two years of medical hell. Recently there was good news and that was a rocket ship to hope. I still have to take nasty dangerous drugs for five more months, but the lung disease looks like it is ready to depart my body.
Last week I went to the dermatologist, which I do every year since I grew up fair-skinned on the beaches of Southern California and like all my friends slathered on baby oil and baked my white skin on a striped towel on the sand as many weekends as I could manage. In the last two years, being distracted by emergency open heart surgery and life threatening lung disease I got behind on my other doctor appointments. Truth be told, I was so doctor weary I put some things off. So, it had been 18 months since I had seen my skin guy instead of a year.
Now I have cancer. It is on my nose, and I have to have surgery to remove it and reconstruct the damaged area. My doctor held my hand while I cried in his office. He knew what I had been through. He would rather have given that news to anyone but me. I was so, so grateful for his wonderful kindness and empathy, it is rare in doctors.
I came home and cried. My kids were not home, thank goodness, because I sobbed. There was a pity party here the likes of which I hope none of you ever witness. My husband brought home sushi and wine.
The next day I told both my kids and they came home. We listened to old music from car trips, song lists we had always loved. We danced and hugged. We ate stupid food and laughed. They are so weary of the stress of worrying about me, it is not how a teen should spend their time. We pretended all of it was some finished discarded fiction.
I am weary of sharing bad news, of being that “one” that scares my loved ones.
On Saturday I removed the bandages from the biopsy, and as usual I had an allergic reaction to the adhesive and my face was bright red and blistered. I had to go to an art party, so I slathered on some makeup and went. The party was to pick up a totem I had just made in a class taught by Katy Diver. This class was so much fun and I would recommend it to all of you. We made ceramic components that stack on rebar that you place in your garden.
Here is my totem.
In the last few days I have been once again questioning why I do what I do and what I should do now. I think I have some answers. Creating art is as close to bliss as I can get. It is powerful, fun and transformative. Making a totem, single pieces that stack up to create a cohesive piece, seems so metaphorical to me. Isn’t that what we are all doing? Each experience is one of those components. Some are pretty, some are sentimental or funny, some are simple, some are placeholders. Collectively they present our story.
And why do I photograph the sunrise and the sunset? It is because they are the brilliant prismatic parenthesis that frame each miraculous day. I need to take notice of the beautiful things that transport me.
I do not have this trauma thing wired. These are the ways I want to feel, they are goals, not achievements. In fact, I am faking it till I make it on some of these practices, remembering what a wonderful therapist told me years ago that has become my mantra: “Action is the opposite of depression. What would a happy person do? Do that.” (Dr. Michael Yapko).
So for the next few months it will once again be worrisome and dicy for me and my loved ones. This one is unlikely to kill me, but I am nervous about the unknowns, skin grafting and more surgery. I will try as hard as I can to be creative, loving and grateful. My tribe becomes more and more important. Your encouraging words do too, so please leave them here, even if you already have many times in the last few years. I hope never to have to do the same for you, but will if you need me to.
I get to start teaching again and for that I am SO grateful. See my Classes page HERE. I adore all of you who show up and take these creative journeys with me, thank you.
The best to all of you.