Cancer, Family, Food For Thought, Inpsiration

The Cacophony of Silence

I wake up each day this past week to the realization that my mom’s little sister, my little brother and sister’s mom, and “Masi” to so many of us has passed. Each time my eyes open,  just for a moment I feel normal until it all comes rushing back. Grief chokes me into silence, and I strain to hear joy in our house. Down the hall, I sense mom wearily turning the newspapers pages, trying to put one more painful minute behind her.  Next to me, I sense my wife move around restlessly, her wounded heart mourning for someone who treated her like a daughter way before our relationship.

The house reeks of a deep sadness that had barely begun to ease up for my dad, yet now we are now back smack in the middle of a deep longing for another loving soul gone. It is fitting that she left we say because now my dad has company and for the past decades,  Baby Maasi was my dad’s partner in crime for music, grocery shopping, the farmer’s market and really anything  that got them outdoors when many of us didn’t feel like it. They were brother and sister by marriage, and in action, they took that relationship to an inspirational level. Yet the unfairness of their death galls me. What about us? How do we pick up the pieces?

And then for a moment, I allow myself the crushing idea of “why bother? I am gonna die anyway?”  And it does feel right, to not care, to just let things be, to lay back in bed, crawl up inside the blankets and just not feel. Then images of Papa and Baby Maasi come to mind, and it hits me that although both had health problems, they lived, no thrived! They did not focus on the unfairness of life or what they couldn’t do. They lived, and ensured those around them also did to. My dad and aunt never lost an opportunity to tell me they loved me.

So I let the silence linger for a moment, I stay in bed just for a minute longer, and then I let go. I get up. I push aside the blanket. Self-pity left behind as I get up to be present, to love, to let my mom, wife and family know they are not alone in this grief. This silence is not one they get to by themselves in. I can’t take the pain away, but that doesn’t mean I allow that to be a reason not to be there.

Life and death are part of my life. It will happen. Giving up  not only dishonors their memory, it is selfish and weak. So I get up, and I need  find ways to continue their legacy not bring it down.

Cancer

Milestones. #CancerFree

8d442e198bf127c5bb42e2c49a8a37a2Five years is a long time. Of not knowing if things will change or stay the same. To get the dreaded call after the annual visit. I cannot imagine the fear she felt after each visit. To always wondering if the dreaded C word was going to come back in her life. Unguarded moments where you wonder what you had done to be in this situation, but not realizing that God had  a bigger plan for her.

I don’t think I could have the courage she exhibited during the treatment. I watched helplessly as she battled chemo and radiation, but I always knew she was a strong one. A fighter. A rebel. She would not go down without a fight. She had great mentors, one who recently passed who taught her to live each day with joy and to never ever give up. To go on your own terms even when it felt like they were forced on to you. But now on February 29th she went from Cancer Patient to just patient, and for that I am grateful. I get to see her beautiful face and know that she is not to be messed with.

But now she is Free. And for that I will always be thankful.

Cancer, My Past, Myself

The Stench of Self-Pity Part 1

Is there a better feeling than waking up to the quietness of a beautiful morning?  When the eyes are still closed, but inside you feel full of gratitude and love for all that is in your life?  Think I am full of shit? Few years ago, I would have agreed and perhaps even said that I was just trying to be a creative writer.  Yet, last year around this time is when I was still recovering from my brain surgery and prior to that, my wife’s illness and then before that a stroke  around the time a loss of a dear dear friend reverberated through  my soul. So I could say life was not fair. I could have whined, and been angry.  And honestly, I did. I cannot even read some of the stuff I wrote around that time because the stench of self-pity suffocates me.  I felt so sorry for myself that I engaged in soul deadening behaviors like avoidance, and pretending all was well. I stopped reading, writing or really doing anything that gave me true joy. I fought with people in my life with such a vengeance as if it was their fault my life was where it was.

I probably would have continued if some of the strangest things came together to salvage who I used to be. It began with a subscription to The New Yorker. I have been buying books all my life, and there are always piles of unread books surrounding my homes, but subscribing to the New Yorker was a new commitment for me. I had no idea that each week, a magazine that was extremely well written with VERY long articles would come to my doorstep.  Each and every single fucking week. So I began reading. Around the same time, a forwarded You Tube link of BK Shivani’s “Healer Within” caught my eye.  At first, I was uncomfortable with the Indian accents, but her words struck me into submission with their clarity and accuracy.  I also began doing Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way as well as doing Lumosity brain games while trying to learn Spanish (still struggling).

I didn’t realize at the time, but I had begun constructing a new me….

To Be Continued….

Cancer, Myself, Preeti

Almost There

 

by Jemal Yarbrough

 

The mural next to these words marks a strong contrast to the real world facing me outside: grey, dreary, drizzling enough so even the dog doesn’t want to go around and sniff aimlessly. Just paid all the bills and miraculously have exactly 11 cents to my name, well to our names to be precise, so I have plenty to frown about, but I am not.  In fact, seems nothing can get me down.

The heart is light, can’t stop smiling, and looking forward to the week ahead. It’s funny how certain things don’t matter as much when so much has happened.  Friends who you cared about deeply barely a bleep, strangers who you ignored now dear acquaintances, but you know over all, that you matter a lot to many out there, and that’s enough.   Each one in our lives contributed the way they could, or better yet the way they were meant to.  This was our battle, and they were just the small break shops that give you water and food so you have the strength to keep going.  Blaming those for not running with you was not only realistic but completely unfair.  True, the damage is done but I know my friends, they will bounce back since those who know me well know that I hold no ill will.  More like, it was a cry for help but I managed to push some away and for that I will always be sorry.  The choice to continue is really up to them because although I am sorry, I am not going to be a slave to regret for the rest of my life.

I finished my first short story in years, and while I am tempted to share it here, I know it still needs to be tightened up more.  Who knew in the whirling days of chemo and radiation, an idea would be born. On this dreary day, my heart shines, smiling at the thought of her being almost done.  Nothing else matters really.  All the old accusations, decisions, bad thoughts, put away to stand clear for the finish line.  Who knew that in a matter of weeks, we will put this saga behind us and while the results are not 100%, they are good enough for me. Can/t worry about what’s not there or has not happened.  Actually, that’s not true. It is 1005 over in a week, and what will come next, I cannot worry about.  For now, I have her to love fully, full-time, and always. Also  my dear friends and family who are always there.  We are almost there, thank you for coming along this bumpy ride.  Hope I didn’t scar you too much. 🙂

 

Cancer, Myself, Preeti

Almost There

by Jemal Yarbrough

The mural next to these words marks a strong contrast to the real world facing me outside: grey, dreary, drizzling enough so even the dog doesn’t want to go around and sniff aimlessly. Just paid all the bills and miraculously have exactly 11 cents to my name, well to our names to be precise, so I have plenty to frown about, but I am not.  In fact, seems nothing can get me down.

The heart is light, can’t stop smiling, and looking forward to the week ahead. It’s funny how certain things don’t matter as much when so much has happened.  Friends who you cared about deeply barely a bleep, strangers who you ignored now dear acquaintances, but you know over all, that you matter a lot to many out there, and that’s enough.   Each one in our lives contributed the way they could, or better yet the way they were meant to.  This was our battle, and they were just the small break shops that give you water and food so you have the strength to keep going.  Blaming those for not running with you was not only realistic but completely unfair.  True, the damage is done but I know my friends, they will bounce back since those who know me well know that I hold no ill will.  More like, it was a cry for help but I managed to push some away and for that I will always be sorry.  The choice to continue is really up to them because although I am sorry, I am not going to be a slave to regret for the rest of my life.

I finished my first short story in years, and while I am tempted to share it here, I know it still needs to be tightened up more.  Who knew in the whirling days of chemo and radiation, an idea would be born. On this dreary day, my heart shines, smiling at the thought of her being almost done.  Nothing else matters really.  All the old accusations, decisions, bad thoughts, put away to stand clear for the finish line.  Who knew that in a matter of weeks, we will put this saga behind us and while the results are not 100%, they are good enough for me. Can/t worry about what’s not there or has not happened.  Actually, that’s not true. It is 1005 over in a week, and what will come next, I cannot worry about.  For now, I have her to love fully, full-time, and always. Also  my dear friends and family who are always there.  We are almost there, thank you for coming along this bumpy ride.  Hope I didn’t scar you too much. 🙂

Cancer, Myself, Preeti

Run This Town

Rocky IV
Image via Wikipedia

 

by Jemal Yarbrough

 

Cue “Run This Town” by Jay Z from his Hits Collection Vol 1, put it on repeat, flash to another waiting room, another place where nurses don’t look at you or can’t remember her name, surrounded by some smiling, others crying, some just blank and others just there.  Time ticks.  The music goes on and the heart expands, and in those 4 minutes, you look around the dreary room and say “we gonna run this town tonight.”  Flash to the car, hitting 100 miles an hour, feeling like 200, and you keep the song on repeat, nothing else will do, this song, this Anthem, gotta break the rules, I don’t care, I am gonna run this town tonight.  I pledge the allegiance to her, this is almost over, a small bump, blip in the radar of life, we got this baby.  Almost there.

Time becomes meaningless, only the music remains, the thoughts only her, willing her to hear your heart, almost there babu,  the finish line is coming up.  All your love, all your work, everything you got, give it to him now (quoting Rocky 4, Duke’s speech to Rocky in the last round versus Drago), and then another line hits me (He’s cut, you see, he’s a man, he’s not a machine.  He’s hurting. No pain, no pain!) and suddenly Cancer is our Drago, you ain’t so bad. We are coming to the final around soon, and your are cut, and guess what: we run this town.  No pain. All our love, all our happiness, all our dreams, all our hopes, desires, just around the corner.  We have just begun, we didn’t pick the fight but we are going to end it with a knockout.  The only way to live baby because we run this town.