The last couple days have been days where it was quite easy to pull my head back into my shell and say enough is enough and shut out everyone and everything. They were days I could easily hear my heart sighing over and over again. My friends Matt and Jill were trying to live through the second anniversary of their 24 year old son Andrew’s death. My friend Barb’s mother died after struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, another friend Stephanie watched her mother wilt from the vibrant woman she was into something she never had been while cancer took hold of her, Deb passed Friday morning. She was my age. I only met her a couple times, but I know too well this loss having watched my own mother’s death and having my own cancer diagnosis back several years. Times like this bring back those old thoughts of, “when’s it going to get me?” Neither of these women’s deaths should have come at the hands of these diseases and Andrew should not have died while riding a bike.

That literally was enough to send me into my shell, yet, I heard of another friend, Gale, losing her mother in law in those same days. Mothers and children, mothers and children, gone from mother’s and children’s eyes, only to remain in their hearts. My heart aches.
After that it doesn’t take much to get to this old turtle. It’s cold outside, the wind has been blustering for a few days now, people went places without giving me a thought, new meds for some stupid little something or other, I need a haircut, yes the list could go on and on.

My heart was aching, I know it couldn’t possibly ache nearly as bad as my friends right now, but it hurt, it hurt for them and selfishly it hurt for me. I could have sat here, and I did for a bit letting it all take hold, pulling my head back and my feet and arms too and shut it all out. Yes I could easily do that, so I forced myself up out of the chair, into the bedroom to get dressed and out the door I went, leaving behind the men, who just happened to be on my list as well. It was a minor indiscretion on their part, but my world was already shutting down so you know, “insult to injury”. Out the door I slammed into the frozen tundra and into my warmed up car. I took myself to lunch, I wasn’t quite out of my shell for this, so I went through the local drive through and sat in my car and ate in my silence and tears finally starting to well in my eyes. I was sad, but more importantly I was angry at myself for getting so depressed. I had admonished friends and family first thing in the morning, “Take a moment today to be grateful and not complain about anything.” And here I was, sitting in my car, all alone in my little shell, eating a fish sandwich, staring blindly at a stupid building in front of me, trying to keep the tears from falling down my face. I wasn’t helping myself. Well I felt a bit better after eating my long overdue lunch and started up the car and headed to Hobby Lobby. I perused the pattern books, looking for a hat for a party, I perused the material, looking for the right material, I perused the fusible web and yes I felt better. I had nothing in hand yet, but I was feeling better. I was feeling better, because I had stepped outside my shell and was looking forward, looking to things coming toward me.

I have lots of things on my calendar this year, one of which is a party to celebrate 30 years of marriage to the man I was a little hurt by that afternoon. After 30 years there have been little hurts from one of us to the other. It’s a hard thing to avoid living with the same people for 30 years, but you get over it. Your love for each other far outweighs little hurts. You forgive and move on. So yes a 30th wedding anniversary party is on “my horizon” as well as at that same party celebrating 10 years of being cancer free. I have much to celebrate. I also like to things a bit “tongue firmly implanted in cheek” this is going to be a Pirate Party. Because how else can you celebrate 10 years of surviving cancer without a few skull and crossbones. Too many have been lost for me not to live my life. I serve no purpose to pull my head into that shell and not live this life, to laugh, to smile, to giggle and yes once in a while let the tears fall and grieve for those lost.

I walked down the aisles of that store, into the model section and there in front of me was a Pirate ship! I grabbed it, smiling and said, “yeah, this is mine!” It’s going to look great at that party, to celebrate life! I headed to the checkout, 40% coupon and pirate ship in hand and my heart was light. It still grieved for all my friends and their pain, but I needed to pull my head out of my shell and move forward. GE DIGITAL CAMERA


About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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