Yesterday our little family of three headed into the city to meet my cousin Gene for lunch at the Bryant Park Grill. Gene is not my actual cousin, but his mom was my dad’s best friend back when they were in high school and now she’s one of my mom’s dearest and most treasured friends, and the truth is, we grew up together, in each other’s homes and lives and so yes, we are cousins in every sense of the word. Except maybe the dictionary definition.
We met by the tree in Bryant Park and then lingered over lunch. We talked. And talked. My husband and I had told our son about my diagnosis on Friday, so he’d had a little bit of time to sit with it and process what’s going on. When the conversation at lunch turned to my cancer, my son listened intently and asked me a few questions. It was good for him to hear us talk about it matter-of-factly, with no fear in our voices — confident, positive, no tears, no drama. As we sat at our tiny round table, warm and surrounded by holiday lights and the skyline, I felt the fear and trepidation of the last couple of days melt away. I felt safe and loved and grateful, for the day, for my family, for my life.
After lunch, we walked through the holiday shops in the park, did a bit of Christmas shopping, and then headed up to Toys R Us in Times Square. (I guess boys never get too old for Toys R Us.) Finally, we came home to a wonderful meal of soup and homemade croutons, a care package left on our porch by a dear friend.
In so many ways, it was a perfect day. But most importantly, it was a day where I felt entirely in the moment, present and focused, not the least bit anxious or worried or scared. We talked about my cancer, but in a way that made me believe I can do whatever needs to be done. I felt strong and alive and thankful for all of it.
I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the results of the MRI. Nervous about the bone scan and the need for another biopsy. I’ve had moments of sheer panic since speaking with Dr. P Thursday night. But yesterday, all that was gone. And today, I feel just as strong and confident as I did yesterday. I know the bone scan will come back clear. And the biopsy? In some ways, it’s simply a formality, the result may guide Dr. P in the operating room, but it won’t have much impact on me. I’m moving forward, I’m having surgery, I’m opting for an aggressive treatment plan. It’s all I can do.
The words sound hollow, overused; the phrases you cling to in times of great challenge, but I know there’s something to it, something valuable and uplifting in those words. I think it has a lot to do with gratitude, with finding your inner peace. I’m still learning, still trying to make my way through it. There’s a phrase used in recovery — giving it up to God. And while I’m not entirely sure about the God piece of it, I do think there’s something to letting go, to exhaling, to breathing out.
I loved the series Friday Night Lights. In fact, I have a close group of girlfriends who frequently ask each other “WWTTD?” (translation: “What would Tammy Taylor do?”) I’m thinking of it now because it reminds me of another great catch phrase from that series, the one that Tammy’s husband, Coach Taylor, always used to inspire his team before their Friday night games: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
I think that says it all.