Alienation. It’s a lonely word. It’s a lonely place. I find myself here more often lately. It’s not all bad. It’s not as dire as it sounds.
There are two things in my life that are hard to talk about, let alone accept. Cancer. That is one thing that I have lived with, an affliction that’s impacted my husband and my mother. The other is mental illness. That’s been since day one. A long line of alcoholism, anxiety, and depression exists in our family. I exist between two taboos.
I grew up as the youngest of three. My two older sisters had me by a decade plus. One of them was my hero. She wore her jean jacket from The Gap like it was nobody’s business. She introduced me to The Beatles and Milli Vanilli. She taught me to drive stick. She brought me to my first bar, as a minor. (Magic Hat’s Fat Angel was horrible tasting, more memorable was the kick ass design of the tap handle).
We were close for a a long time. And then she got married and had kids. I was an afterthought, and rightly so. I get that now that I have my own family. I was just a kid and she had real shit to deal with. Naturally we grew apart. Things were never easy for her, though they appeared to be from the outside. She started to drink, she started to change. I remember one Thanksgiving I came to her house to help her prepare dinner. She offered me wine in a mug. She had her own mug of wine. She kept it hidden in a cupboard in-between basting the turkey and making the homemade cranberry sauce. I didn’t get it.
We don’t talk very often. Today she called me, a rare occasion. I picked up, unknowing as I stopped saving her ever changing numbers in my contact list. The person on the other end of the line was not my sister. And as much as I wanted to help her, as many times as I asked how I could assist, she grew angrier with me. I couldn’t reconcile the conversation.
Just like I cannot reconcile that my husband is terminally ill. There are campaigns and hashtags fighting against the idea of lung cancer patients being called ‘terminal’. I suppose you could say that we’re all terminal from the day we are born. Like a new car being driven off the lot, there’s no turning back. So given that and the statistics around lung cancer, I’m spending my energy on raising money for research, not hashtags.
Adversity strikes us all. It hits when we least expect it. It shows up when we’re already knocked down and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Life isn’t easy. God, is it hard at times. Sometimes it’s a fight just to get your kid to clip his toenails. But whether it’s toenails or cancer, or the quarantine 15, life is seriously so cool. Some days (ok, MANY days) I have to remind myself to open my eyes wide to seek the beauty before me. But it’s there, it’s so close and within our reach if we just ask for it, if we’re just open to receiving it.
Wherever you find yourself today, you’re not alone. Reach out, open your eyes to possibility, believe in miracles (they exist!). Here’s to being human and to our mighty struggle. Much love and SO much hope. xo.