christmas-concert-401843_1280Christmas Carols and Loud Whispers

I went to my daughter’s school recital tonight.  There were hardly any chairs left by the time we got there.  A woman acquaintance of mine motioned for us to take the seats beside her.   For the life of me I can’t remember her name!  Is that the chemo brain?  Or is it the age showing?  We started chatting and we got into a very interesting conversation before the lights faded and the music started.

The concert was bright and colorful and brought tears of joy to my eyes watching the innocence and excitement of the kids.  My phone was dead, so no pictures.  My older daughter told me that I would just have to capture the moment in my mind forever.  Wow, how did she get so smart?  The concert was wonderful, I captured it all.  I hope the memory stays solid and that another mother was there with her phone or camera charged.  The conversation I had with the woman sitting beside me definitely will stay with me.

She told me that four years ago she had to have the defibrillator at work used on her to restart her heart.    She said that it changed her life forever.  She had collapsed and woke up with people reviving  her.  When she came to, she was fine: but changed forever.  She went on to say that that moment for her made everything come into focus.  She realized she wasn’t happy in her marriage and that she needed major upheavals in her life.  She’s been divorced for four years now.

I was surprised to hear this story from her.  I had thought she was still married and had no idea of her brush with death.  It brought up a lot of emotions as I sat through the concert thinking about it.  I was almost envious.  I know it sounds horrible.  A woman almost has a heart attack and dies at work and I’m envious.  Well, I guess I compare everything against cancer.  Cancer doesn’t give you one jolt or one awakening, it keeps giving you challenges that lead to the awakening.  I have been undergoing a shift in my reality but it’s been a very demanding and debilitating process, something almost like going through a meat grinder.  I suppose my feelings of envy surfaced because it felt like her awakening happened  in an afternoon; while my awakening took some bad shit to come about.

When I sat and pondered this more, I know that we all have our own battles to deal with.  For some reason, the universe chose to give me this battle, not that one.  Perhaps she didn’t just wake up and walk off, perhaps the fear of it happening at any time is always present with her. Then she went through divorce.  Having done that twice I know it is never easy.  The bottom line is, we really never know how much someone else is suffering or in what ways. Comparison of others never gets you anywhere.  That’s a great rule to live by, but hard to comply with sometimes, especially when you have cancer.

They, whoever they are, say that there are no coincidences.  I was meant to sit beside her tonight and to hear her story. Hearing her story gives me more compassion for her and more of a feeling of sisterhood.  It also reminded me that I am not totally accepting my diagnosis as a thing that IS, and that there were no coincidences with getting it either.  I’ve come a long way in this journey – and much further to go.

For tonight I will be grateful for: singing, excited children, the teachers that teach them, and for that woman in the chair next to me.  I am grateful that although I still have a hard  time accepting my diagnosis, at least I am witness to the feelings about it.  It’s a step on this journey, one heart beat at a time.