Bad Days Make the Good Days Better

When I was finally feeling like myself again, energized, alive and no more metallic mouth, it was time for my second dose of chemo.  It’s not easy walking into the doctor’s office for a self induced flu. 

But much of the pain in our lives is self induced, especially from small stuff like getting annoyed with traffic, a crowded theatre, excessive homework, husbands and hairballs.  As Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” wisely states, “So many people spend so much of their life energy “sweating the small stuff” that they completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life.”  It is true, taking precious time from our short lives sweating over traffic and hairballs only takes you into those dismal swamplands and further and further away from the wonders of life.  My stress is not going to make the car in front of me go any faster.  My stress will not make the cancer go away. 

I realize worrying about cancer is not the same as stressing over the car in front of me driving at a snail’s pace.  Cancer is real, life threatening, scary, and big.  The car with the old lady in it is just a simple annoyance.      

I have heard some people say that cancer has been a gift to them and in some weird dark way, I have to agree.  How you might ask?  First, it is a lot easier to recognize the small stuff when faced with big stuff.  Second, the small stuff just doesn’t seem that big anymore. 

But, what about the big stuff?  How does one learn to not sweat the big stuff?  Understandably, it can cause a lot of sweating. 

As I am writing this blog, my mom called.  Apparently, my cousin Tommy committed suicide this morning.  His story is a sad one.  He is a victim of unwarranted circumstances.  It is going to be very difficult to understand and process this one.  Tommy, you will be missed. 

When it comes to death, health, marriage, parenting, financial issues, etc., it takes a bit more work than simply not sweating.  Again, Richard Carlson points out, “When our familiar world falls apart, especially through the pain of death — of losing someone we love — we are shaken at our very core.  We realize, perhaps for the first time, that there is no easy or quick way out.  We must go through the process, which will be a little different for each of us — the common thread being pain.”

Yes, there will be miserable moments.  Yes, it may hurt like hell.  The pain can be overwhelming at times.  But in time, the pain will subside, joy will return.  Somehow, we will endure, become more resilient, and slowly heal.  The key word in Carlson’s statement is “process”.  Like everything in life, including my battle with cancer, it is a process. It will take time.  There will be moments of pain, and then, miraculously, the joy will slowly begin to seep back into your life like the sun breaking through the clouds after a rainy day.  It is inevitable.  You cannot hold back the sun.  You cannot hold back the beauty and magic of life.

I look at it this way.  Without the lows, we would not know the highs.  Without the big stuff, there would be no small stuff.  There is no good without evil, love without hate, hero without a bad guy, happiness without sadness, dark without light, or yin without yang.  Neither would be able to exist without the other.  It is all interconnected.  One gives rise to the other, hand in hand like couples in love. 

And like the tide, it ebbs and flows.  Life, love, health and money come and go.  Life is not stagnant.  It is crude, organic constantly shifting, changing, and morphing, in and out, back and forth, up and down.   

Knowing that there will be better days gets you through the tough ones.  And, as Reese Witherspoon’s character, Lisa, in the movie “How Do You Know” says, “Bad days make the good days better.” 

A few days before my second chemo treatment, I was on a high.  I was finally feeling better after my first round of chemo.  No more metallic mouth, my fatigue had subsided and I felt like I could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.  I threw a fabulous birthday party for Maggie, Daisy Chain, Maggie and the Maggots, delicious food, one-hundred cupcakes, family, friends and gorgeous smiles beamed filling my home and my soul.  The next day, I found myself driving around town, windows down, radio blaring, sporting my new do.  Nothing could bring me down, nothing.  It felt good to be alive.    

A few days later, I went in for my second chemo treatment.  I was hit hard and down for the count.  The chemo was winning.  I slowed down, slipped into my cute heart pajamas, watched “Mad Men” and took a couple days of rest.

Sunday morning, I flipped it and reversed it.  With some help from my family and friends, I woke up and began to pack for our annual homeschooling camping trip to Anza Borrego.  I felt like shit but I rather feel like shit with the people I love camping in the desert than alone in my home.  I put on my cute blue jean shorts and tank top, packed up our tent, and drove three hours to the desert, where I filled my life with wildflowers, big blue sky, endless night stars, flip flop walks, fabulous food (I could not taste but it looked good), rainbows and friends, lots and lots of friends.

This weekend, I’m down again.  I have a really awful cold and a chemo induced period that seems to visit weekly.  But I will get up again.  Like the tide, I will come back.  Like the sun, I will rise.  Like flowers in the springtime, I will bloom again.  I have faith in this process.  In fact, the longer I am on this planet, the more I have experienced, the more faith I have.  As Ann Morrow Lindbergh writes: 

We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in freedom. 

 

4 Responses to “Bad Days Make the Good Days Better”

  1. Mom Says:

    If bad days make the good days better honey, then you have a whole life of good days ahead of you..
    As usual your writing amazes me as you do as a woman. I love you lots.

  2. Raundi Says:

    “Everything is a cycle, you’ve got to let it come to you
    And when it does, you will know what to do” Conor Oberst

    So good, girl! Thanks. I needed to read this one today: )

    I Love you!

  3. clare Says:

    Not only do you make cancer look like too much fun, you make cancer look too beautiful. You get lovelier with each post. Did you get my surprize package from the Galapagos yet??? I hope so. Love you so much.

  4. Roya Says:

    Hey Yes Mom :) Just wanted to tell you I’m out here reading and soaking it all up. Mwah.

    –Roya

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