Drowning out the love and light..... we have this, too. Feuding family nonsense and commotion and clutter and traffic and noise. Chaos and confusion. Spinning in a million directions. Trying to keep twelve balls in the air. Stressing because all are equally important and inevitably several are going to hit the ground. And in my case, several more are going to retreat to the recesses of my chemobrain, likely surfacing moments before I promised (or more likely am required) to do something.
Always remember, especially during this time of year, many are carrying burdens which may not be obvious. Be kind to all. It matters.Those words flowed from my brain and I sent them into the magical land of twitter. Admittedly, it was easy. I am carrying a mess of stuff but I wanted to remind myself that there are others whose stuff is a whole lot worse than mine. And then, I ran out the door, late for a doctor appointment after which I pointed my car in the direction of the shopping mall. I was determined to finish all of the gift shopping on Tuesday and I'm happy to say, I accomplished my goal.
— AnneMarie Ciccarella (@chemobrainfog) December 16, 2014
I did the gift wrapping on Wednesday. I was a woman possessed. This year, I will spend the entire week before Christmas clearing my mind of everything. My life has been consumed by much since 2014 was ushered in with the drop of a ball in NYC, just miles from my home. Yes, I feel like I've been a magnet for far more than I should have had to deal with. Yes, there are times I want to feel sorry for myself. And then, I remember. It could be worse, it is worse for some. I allow myself my moments but I can't, I won't wallow.
Back to my shopping day. On the way home, I stopped to put gas in my car. Up until about two years ago, fingers were constantly pointed in my direction over the fact that I do NOT pump my own gas. Period. When I got my license to drive, I lived in a township that did not allow self serve pumps. Thus, my first eight driving years, I didn't pump gas. Because I couldn't since I primarily stopped at a gas station close to home. That set the tone. Then, there were babies in car seats and the No Pumping Gas thing was simply a way of life. Not because I was too good to get out of the car, just because that's the way the cookie crumbled for me and gas pumps.
My kids made fun of me. There were times I almost ran out of gas. I remember a time I was in Miami visiting my daughter at college. There are NO attendants on US 1 and I'm almost embarrassed to say, at the time, I had no idea how to even open my damn gas cap. Yes, I was in a panic. I know I didn't run out of gas and I know I didn't pump gas, I just wonder how far out of the way I went to find a gas station with a full service island. That same daughter insisted I learn how to pump my own gas on a lengthy trip. "Out of the car, mom. You're doing this." Now I know. No more freaking out if I'm running low on fuel and the only stations are self serve.
That rule still exists today in that township and it was that township where I went shopping last Tuesday. On my way out of the mall, I stopped in Starbucks. I needed something to drink. The line was so damn long, I opted to get in my car and stop somewhere else. Realizing the tank was getting low, I stopped at a gas station. Two birds with one stone. Obviously, I wouldn't be pumping my own gasoline. I ran into the market to grab a bottle of water as the attendant filled the tank.
I jumped back into my car, grabbing a few dollar bills from the change in my hand. When the attendant handed me my receipt and my credit card, I thanked him and handed him four dollars. Four. Dollars. I thought nothing of it, truly expecting a reciprocal "thanks" in return. He was an older gentleman and his thank you was filled with such gratitude it took me by surprise. "Thank you. Thank you so much. This will help, especially since I won't be working tomorrow."
I had my wallet in my hand and a lump in my throat. I didn't do anything grand. I simply wanted to let him know I appreciated the fact that he was outside in the cold fueling my car. The passenger window was still open and he was already at the rear of my car. I was so touched, I yelled out the window, "Wait, come back!" and when he came back, I handed him a $20. "Thank you so much, you have no idea what this means," and then, "please take these back," as he attempted to hand me back the singles. I told him I didn't want them back and that I hoped he had a happy holiday.
It's the little things. The littlest things. I pulled away with tears in my eyes. I know what's happening in my life and yeah, some of this stuff is exceptionally difficult. But I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on the table and I'm not worried about how I'm going to stay warm while I'm working in the cold. Or if there will be gifts under a Christmas tree.
Start a kindness tsunami. Hold a door for someone. Offer to help someone who my be struggling with a few too many packages. Wear a smile. If you are fortunate enough to have spare change, hand it to someone who helps you or pay for someone's coffee.
That man's pure and heartfelt gratitude was a gift to me. He thinks I did something for him; In reality, he did more for me than he will ever know.
I wish each and every one of you joy and peace and a heart filled with love, throughout this holiday season and each and every day after. And to those who may be struggling, whether it's health issues or just plain stuff, know that you are never far from my heart and my thoughts.
To those who are no longer here, to the many friends whose voices I will no longer hear, whose words I will no longer read, my world is a better place because I was graced by the gift of their friendship. They are all sorely missed. This year hit hard. The losses have been enormous.
I hope 2015 starts off a little more calmly than 2014 did. This year has flown by, but it has been one where I've been tested and challenged. The sheer fact that this blog has seen a decline in posts tells a story. In 2014, I wrote one quarter of what I'd managed to write in the the two and a half years prior. I see this space as a place to join friends and the other side of that? I always made my best effort to respond to every comment. You read, you comment and I see every comment. That I hadn't had the head or the time to reply, isn't my style either.
And, No mom, there's nothing else happening that you don't already know about...... sometimes it's best if your things are only read by strangers. But my mom, as many of you already know is one of us. One of us, twice over, at 20 year intervals and now living with, and thankfully, responding to treatment of metastatic disease. It was close to two years ago that you all held me up as I walked around MSCKK in circles in the cruelest twist of irony, to learn that she had joined the ranks of the group of patients whose needs are most urgent. And overlooked by most.
You held her up, too in the comments left specifically for her. She was stunned. I wasn't. I always knew we are a group of friends. We might not meet face to face but our lives are forever intertwined thanks to the magic of social media. It made the world incredibly small and exponentially larger in the very same breath. It made it possible for the cultivation of friendships that would not exist.
So yes, in 2014, I've fallen down many times but I've gotten up every time. And, I'm still standing. Still here. You've been an integral part of that still standing thing. And yes, beyond all of that, I am and forever will be, grateful for the joy you bring to my life.
Thank you, thank you..... thank you. From the bottom of my heart and from deep within my soul, thank you.
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